#302: The Marriage of Facepalm & WTF?

"Without you my soul would sink into the yawning maw of the abyss."
The first of what will likely be many Captain Awkward Dot Com greeting cards.

I’ve been in an editing bay all day and not able to respond to the many kind emails and donations that came in over the course of the day. Hi! Thank you! I will send links to the movie out over the next 2 days!

This…was also in my inbox when I got home tonight.

Dear Captain, my relationship isn’t perfect, my boyfriend is mostly selfish, dirty, stubborn and feels he is the only one that has a hard day at work… a male trough and trough I love him quite a lot (why if not love would make me put every day with that kind of person?) but… I’m sure I have to leave him just like a coyote that has to chew it’s own paw, this is why: he is 36 and I’m his most meaningful relationship in the subject of commitment, but I have forced that commitment by being nagging and I mean really nagging, we moved together almost 2 years ago but a year into living together I brought up the “are we going to have kids soon right?” and he didn’t wanted kids like ever, and I do want kids so I gave him a year to think about if He would change his mind or if we would have to end our relationship, quite a chunk of time right? well last month the time ran out and after a shouting crying and silent staring (not hard to know who did which) he agreed to try to have a kid next summer June 2013, and it was a relief because I want to be with him, but guess what? we don’t have sex… it has been a problem almost from the beginning of our relationship and it’s getting worse and worse talking doesn’t work, begging doesn’t work… I have being even violent but I don’t want to force him I believe consent is the only way… not that he thinks the same when he wants sex (once every few months) he is forceful and I feel like it’s my only chance to have some and I should be up to whatever He would like, there is also the humping he would hump my leg like a dog and have a good time for himself even if I protest…

Oddly I have leaned to take this like normal (I know you are having a facepalm moment sorry) but lately he reluctantly proposed (of course no ring) and not really wanting a wedding or planing he would go with whatever I decide so he has to put no effort and it wouldn’t look like he is happy or excited to be there…

So what can some one as stupid as me do?

Tnxs a lot for the time reading this mail and there are more details if you care for them.

-Bunny in Distress

Dear Bunny:

Not to be Dear Coquette, but I’m trying to find one good reason to marry a dirty, selfish, stubborn guy who won’t have sex with you when you want to but violently humps your leg when he feels like having sex and who doesn’t want any of the same things you want out of life.

Maybe you could read your letter out loud to yourself? Or to someone local, like a friend or a therapist, who could say, with a full range of necessary vocal inflection and facial expressions:


Why would you do that?

Why would you “nag” to keep him in your life?

What are you looking for us to tell you?

Congratulations on your, uh, engagement?”

“Whatever makes you happy.”

“Nobody’s perfect!”

Inertia: It’s powerful!

Are you trying to make yourself (and your future child) permanently unhappy as some kind of bizarre performance art?

I like what you said about being a coyote that maybe needed to chew off its own paw to get out of the relationship.

Chew faster.

P.S. In case this was an actual, sincere question, I think this LW is in a similar situation of knowing it’s over without quite believing it’s over, and this letter has some practical advice about planning for a breakup when you live with someone and have to deal with money & other logistics. Breaking up with someone familiar is very hard, but it has to be easier than browbeating a gross dude who doesn’t actually like you into unholy matrimony.

P.P.S. I want to say something encouraging about how there is probably someone better out there for you, and there probably IS someone better out there for you you should probably take a break from this whole thing until you’ve figured some shit out. Why not read this thread about good relationships and how people treat each other well as a primer? I know what it’s like to feel stuck and like you don’t want to or can’t start over, but you can do better for yourself (and future hypothetical offspring) than this. Alone & happy with yourself would be a version of better. Trust in the future.

P.P.P.S. Violence and calling yourself stupid are bad. Stop it.

98 thoughts on “#302: The Marriage of Facepalm & WTF?

  1. He will not get better. He will get worse — a lot worse. Please don’t mix your genes with this terrible person. Picture your life after you have a baby. You’ll be livng with two selfish, dirty, demanding babies. And the adult one doesn’t want to have sex with you.
    If you want to have hope of a good life with children and a partner who loves you AND your children, you’re going to have to look elsewhere.

  2. Oh sweetie. This one thing jumped out at me and I NEED to address it:

    “my boyfriend is mostly selfish, dirty, stubborn and feels he is the only one that has a hard day at work… a male trough and trough”

    Most men are not like this. I repeat: MOST MEN ARE NOT LIKE THIS. I have tons of male friends and former lovers who are gentle, caring, considerate, clean, snappy dressers, feminists, everything that you could want in a partner. PLEASE don’t think that you have to put up with this incredible level of bullshit just to have a man in your life. There are literally billions of men out there, and many of them will be willing and able to treat you like a human being.

        1. Are they also the ones who piled vertebrae on people’s noses in their graves? Not that that reflects on their suitability as spouses.

          1. I don’t… think so? The one I saw was massive amounts of pollen around Neanderthal bones, suggesting they may have been buried with flowers.

    1. Yes, seconded! My husband is a feminist, incredibly caring, and can clean a bathroom and himself like a champ. He is my best friend AND my lover, because he’s awesome!

      Get thee gone, LW. You don’t need a dude who doesn’t make you happy.

    2. Mr.Firpa is a sweet, snuggly, caring, hilarious, awesome dude who is our resident House Spouse (and GOOD AT IT– I mean, damn, I did this for most of a year once and I was pretty okay, if I worked my ass off, but he ranks me on this big time), a wonderful, caring husband, and a loving, attentive father to our little one. He is also a male through and through.

      Dear LW: I would like to stress to you that none of the qualities you may feel are necessary to make you feel attraction to a guy are automatically chained to the quality that we generally call “acting like an asshole”. There are a lot of VERY MALE dudes out there that will make you go HUMMINA HUMMINA who are not assholes. This is not one of them.

      1. I just want to ditto PomperaFirpa’s last paragraph. Traditional masculinity does not have to come with an equal serving of assholery.

    3. Agreed, but reading this letter I got the impression that English was not the writer’s first language. Some of the turns of phrase sounded like it to me. Anyway, if that is correct, the LW might be from a culture which upholds notions of gender which remain very conservative, in comparison to the U.S. My personal experience is with eastern Europe, where even very loving, involved family men tend to draw a distinction between “mens” and “womens” work. Nice men (not “Nice Guys” but good people) do this casually, and it’s more of an unconsidered division of household labor than them dumping on women (like this guy sounds like he’s doing to the LW) and if there isn’t a woman around, or their wives are busy, they do these tasks, no complaint.
      But these cultural norms can make unpleasant guys super entitled, and then they turn out like the guy the LW describes.
      I don’t mean that I think she can’t do better- she totally can, even working within a more hardcore patriarchy, if that’s the culture she’s part of. And possibly I’m totally off the mark with that deduction, but if I’m right, it could be another thing that’s going to make it hard to handle this guy, if he has the weight of a gender-divided culture behind him.
      But, like I said, the LW can so do better and should totally find a nicer guy to be with.

  3. I don’t know what you get out of this relationship. You have to get something, right? (Does he shit gold bricks?) But the idea of having a kid with him, I mean, imagine being tied to this man for the Rest. Of. Your. Life.

    I don’t care who you are, you deserve a relationship where at least *one* of your needs is met, and not met with grudging and pushing and crying.

  4. a) “males” are not all like that even a slight bit of the way through
    c) you may have come to accept this as “normal”, but your writing to the Captain (inclusive of arm-chewing-off reference) would indicate to me that maybe you understand on some level that this is not “normal” nor remotely what you want out of a relationship?
    d) DTMFA

  5. The content of this letter is making the guy out to be the bad guy but if I’m honest, the LW needs to realise that she sounds just as bad if not worse. She doesn’t have terrible choice in men, she has terrible self esteem which is manifesting in the worst way. I think that’s an important distinction to make.

    LW, I trust you love your boyfriend, but he didn’t pull a bait-and-switch on you. You nagged him into the relationship meaning that he quite clearly was not a good fit for you from the very start. You must have known this, hoping he’d change into the man you want him to be. That’s a huge mistake – people rarely change. So you have to ask yourself why you are doing this to yourself? That’s not a problem with him, I think the problem is a little closer to home.

    A man who tells you he doesn’t want kids, doesn’t want to have kids. He was honest with you and you should respect that answer even if it’s not what you want to hear. A child is a lifetime commitment which should be borne out of love and want from BOTH parents not out of ultimatums. Do you want to have a child with a man who doesn’t want one? Is that fair to you and to the child? Would you like to be brought up in a household like that? Children don’t fix relationships. In fact, they make them harder which is why you need a great deal of love in a relationship before having them.

    I agree with Cap’n in that you need to leave this relationship. It’s toxic to both of you. After you leave the relationship, I really think you need to work on yourself so you’re ready for the love you want.

    1. I’m with you here Primadonna.

      I don’t *want* to be harsh, but really it was the LW’s behaviours that jumped out at me…

      LW, the importance of consent is not limited to sexual activities. Consent in any form of social contract or relationship is pretty much inviolable. You say that you believe “consent is the only way”, yet you have “nagged” your partner into being in a relationship with you, “begged” him and been violent ((!)) for sex and berated him into having a baby with you.

      You said very clearly “I have forced that commitment by being nagging and I mean really nagging”. What you are basically saying in this letter is “I want a, b, c and d to happen. I know my partner doesn’t want the same. But I don’t care. I want him to be with me, have sex with me, marry me, and have a child with me no matter how ‘reluctantly’, and I’ll perform any behaviours to get what I want. I will beg, nag and berate, his choices be damned”. These are very coercive behaviours, and consent cannot exist if compliance has been coerced.

      Speaking of consent: he perform sexual acts “even if [you] protest…”?

      And you want to bring a child into this clusterfuck of coercion and abuse?!

      Please please please leave ASAP, and get some therapy to get to the root out why this is ‘normal’ for you. Hopefully you can then get some help, move on and form a/many respectful, mutually consensual, loving relationships in the future.

      Best of luck

      1. This a thousand times over. You parsed out every red flag I was getting from this letter in a more eloquent way than I could have.

  6. Please, LW, get out of this relationship as quickly as possible.

    Under no circumstances should you conceive a child with this man.

    It seems that the LW has literally no idea what a good relationship looks like and has some quite alarming beliefs about men in general. Perhaps these beliefs are coming from family members or maybe from popular culture but in any case, they are wrong. Many men want to commit to someone they love, maybe get married, have children. They want to be good partners. It’s not necessary to trick, coerce or nag a man into commitment – if you feel the need to do so that just shows the relationship is not worth it.

    I recommend the LW heads over to http://pervocracy.blogspot.com and reads all the Cosmocking posts. Cliff Pervocracy does a great job of examining the strange ideas about gender and relationships that pervade mainstream culture.

    I’d like to write more but my children need me at the moment. And I’m glad to say that my husband wanted to bring them into the world and is involved in their lives. Ladies who want children, choose their father wisely!

    1. One of the Cosmockings even deals with the leg-humping thing. I can’t seem to find it, but basically it says that it’s definitely not on and is essentially sexual assault.

      1. <a href="http://pervocracy.blogspot.com/2011/1Cosmocking: November ’11! Part Two!

        It’s not normal and not okay to hump someone in their sleep. (Unless you work it out in advance, but obviously that’s not an option in Cosmoland.) And it doesn’t strike me as an innocent expression of dudely appreciation. It strikes me as a passive-aggressive way to punish for her not putting out, to prove that she can’t stop him from using her body anyway. If I were her, I’d be very clear about saying “Please stop trying to do sexual things with me after I’ve said no. If you don’t commit to stopping this, I don’t feel safe sleeping in the same bed as you.”

  7. “Love keeps people together even if they don’t like each other, so the less I like him the more I must love him, yes? And the fact we can’t stand each other and don’t want any of the same things, but we have stuck it out so far, means we must be really super-truly in love and Meant To Be, yes?”

    NO. NO NO NO. I hope this particular letter is trolling, but I have heard faint strains of the above non-logic far too often in reality.

  8. What the Captain said. Also, even if this guy was clean, giving, considerate, and eager for many consensual sexytimes with you, he doesn’t want kids and you do.

    You cannot nag or hector or berate someone into sex. Or into having kids. Or into being the person you want them to be. Nagging, begging, yelling, and violence (!!!! DO NOT DO THAT, SHEEZUS) are not signs of a healthy relationship or a healthy way to deal with not getting what you want.

    Your choices are to accept him as he is and live a childless life with a “selfish, dirty and stubborn” man who never wants to have sex with you unless it’s to hump your leg, or to end this and find someone more compatible.

    I second the thought above that I *hope* this letter is trolling. If it’s not, I suggest you make an appointment with a good therapist to work on why this situation is a form of normal for you.

  9. LW,

    My heart aches for you. You sound very unhappy. The sooner you take steps to change your life the sooner things will improve. Please don’t wait.

  10. Oh God, LW, this relationship sounds like a train wreck. I don’t even know what to say.

    Look. You are clearly each terrible for the other. It doesn’t make either of you bad people, but you need to not be together.

    And honestly, if someone was pressuring me to have children with them when I didn’t want kids, I would probably avoid having sex with them too.

    1. The violence on her part and the leg humping on his part do kind of make them bad people, though.

      I mean, I’m sure they have redeeming features and so on, but still. Ugh.

      1. Let’s not call them bad people, even if they do bad stuff. They’re bad together. They bring out the worst in each other.

        1. “They bring out the worst in each other.”

          That’s exactly what I was thinking, which also reminded me of a “green flag” thing that I should probably post in the other thread. Mr. Other Becky makes it easier for me to be my better self, and my mother-in-law has told me that she thinks I bring out the best in him. I disliked the “You make me want to be a better man” thing in As Good As It Gets, but I like the idea of a good partner making it easier to be a better person.

          That is really, really not the case here.

  11. I’m thinking maybe you grew up in an abusive household? And over the years you absorbed the message that men are dirty, selfish, stubborn, self-centered, (and mean?) and maybe violent, but hey — if you’re a heterosexual woman and/or you want kids that’s just what you have to deal with? No.

    Or maybe someone told you you were not pretty enough, or smart enough, or that you were too fat (or too skinny!), and that’s why you feel like you’re lucky to get a man, any man, even if he’s dirty, selfish, stubborn, self-centered, and maybe violent, has to be nagged into “commitment” or sex or having a child with you? Again, no.

    Yeah, men can be dirty, selfish, stubborn, self-centered and too lazy or depressed for sex and maybe violent… just as women can be all those things. They can also be kind and supportive and generous, pull their weight around the house and be completely non-violent… as well as fun/funny, sexy, good for a snuggle… And you deserve one of those. You do.

    What’s more, your children do. They deserve someone who feels joy at their birth, who doesn’t just think of them as annoying, loud little parasites sucking on the family bank account, who would give them a kidney or move to a different neighborhood with a longer commute but where the public schools are better or whatever it takes to make sure they have a good life… all that stuff.

    They — and this is perhaps the really hard part for you to hear — also deserve a mom who knows she has value, who knows what a home should be. Who, by example, can show her children how to treat people, and what kind of treatment she should require of anyone she’s in a relationship with. Who knows that violence has *no* place in a family. Ever.

    And the thing is, you’re not there. I hate to say this, but not only is this not a guy you should have children with, but you are not yet ready to have children. Do you deserve that kind of happiness? Absolutely. But you don’t get it just by having a child. You get it by having a child and knowing what the heck to do with him/her, so you’re not just adding stress to your life (kids are stressful!) and perpetuating the low kindness expectations into another generation.

    I don’t know how you learn those things… but I think first you need to start by getting rid of this guy, who is not good for you and does not deserve to be the father of your children (and they don’t deserve *that* for a father). Take some classes… work out more… get therapy… whatever it takes for you to feel like you are someone who deserves better than your current guy. Then find someone who appreciates you, and wants to have sex with you, and wants to have children with you, and will be kind to them and to you. I swear to you, he exists. But you’re not going to find him without a little work.

  12. Everyone else, the Cap’n included, has given great advice to you, LW. I just wanted to add a note for the Cap’n herself:

    This is the second time in as many letters that you’ve framed pregnancy as basically being a container for the male’s seed, and while that’s a pervasive frame in our culture it’s…really not how it works. I blame Hesiod, myself, but there’s no reason we should still be thinking of it that way, with all the biological knowledge we’ve gained since the 7th century B.C.E. This is how I describe it to my students when I want to lay a paradigm shift on them–instead of thinking about a baby as something that a man plants and a woman just gestates, think of it as the man dropping off half the blueprints to a building, while the woman supplies the other half, AND does all the construction work, AND supplies all the raw materials. Out of her own body.

    Back to the LW–thinking of it in this way, do you really want to commit your body and your future to someone who 1. has demonstrated that he’s not emotionally committed to the project and 2. doesn’t have to be physically committed either, whereas you do?

    1. I believe that when a father-brother loves a sister-wife very much he puts his man-seed in her and if sky-god is willing it makes a baby in her magic woman-vessel. When the birth-time is near the vessel cracks open and hopefully the man-child is born who will carry on the family name!

      Or it’s possible I could be joking, very darkly, about the horror of having a baby with an abuser or a guy who “violently humps your leg” aka “your live-in rapist” in a dark, fucked up Ridley Scott kind of way that’s not coming across well.

      I see why it’s problematic (the first paragraph would be funny if it were not in fact the actual stuff people believed for a lot of human history and were not the actual platform of the actual Republican Party in the US, right?) and I’ll be more conscious in the future. Thanks for the biology/history lesson.

      1. Thanks for replying to my lecturing with openness and humor. I’m sorry if I came across as pedantic at all. It’s just one of my feminist-mama hot buttons. 😀

        1. Your biology lesson is appreciated here. Not only does having children affect [person(s) raising them] for as long as they’re alive, birthing them is also of a long-lasting pain. 🙂 I for one rarely had cavities until Little Spawn sucked all the calcium out of my teeth.

          Then there’s PPD and all of the other fun stuff that may come along in the aftermath, and man, that’s hard to ford without a decent support system, much less a passive-aggressive, consent-tripping man-child who didn’t want to drop off his half of the blueprints in the first place.

          1. Yeah, what is it with the teeth? I didn’t have a single cavity until I was past 30, neither did my sister. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that we both had our first child in our late twenties.

          2. Well, they do make a whole new person worth of bones out of your calcium supply, so that’s probably to be expected, but boy am I not looking to my next dentist appointment. I feel like some kind of super-sonic BLAST ALL POSSIBLE PLAQUE toothbrush should be de regueur at baby showers.

  13. Oh, honey, NO.

    Let’s look at his actions in this. He is dragging his feet on everything. He is dragging his feet on a wedding, he is dragging his feet on the baby thing (oh, honey, NO). Have you ever had to bodily haul an unwilling toddler who has gone dead-weight on you in order to make you put forth the maximum amount of effort in order to get the minimum amount of what you want? Because that is what this guy is doing.

    He doesn’t want to marry you. He doesn’t want to have kids with you. He doesn’t (mostly) want to have sex with you. He does not want the life that you want. He doesn’t want you. In fact, he has practically painted a giant billboard saying I DON’T WANT YOU, GET OUT but he’s not adult enough to say the words, and you’re not being adult enough to hear his intent even though it’s completely clear.

    This isn’t love. This isn’t a relationship. It’s an extended sulk. It’s a tantrum. I don’t know what you’re hoping to accomplish by forcing yourself on someone who doesn’t want you, but this isn’t going to magically turn into a loving family any more than pouring water on a dead plant will make roses bloom.

    Here is what you need to do:

    1) Say: “This isn’t working. I’m leaving you.”
    2) Figure out what stuff is yours.
    3) Find a place to move it to.
    4) Line up help to move it.
    5) Move out.

    You do not need to chew off your own paw to get out of this trap, because it’s not trying to hold you and, if anything, it’s trying to jettison you from its jaws. The only thing holding you here is your own head, and you clearly know better.

    Believe me when I tell you this: the life you want is not here. You are going to have to go on an adventure to find it. Every fairy tale starts this way: the hero has to leave to find what he or she wants. Be brave, be the hero of your story, and go find your happy ending. You’re not going to find it here.

  14. I really hope this is trolling, it is too depressing otherwise.

    In case it isn’t, then GET OUT NOW. This guy makes you miserable, you probably make him miserable too. Don’t be with someone who (um, clearly?) doesn’t want to be with you.

    You don’t need to chew off your own paw – the trap is of your own making! Walk away!

  15. LW I am not trying to claim that I understand exactly what you’re going through–or that my ideas below are best for you as well. Here’s the thing; I am a widow of two years in my mid thirties. I know there are things I could do if I absolutely was so determined to have children that I compromised on what might be the best (I mean the safest healthiest most positive) circumstances for me to have them. I know that if I don’t explore any of those compromises I may never have a child. Some of these compromises could probably be healthy or positive. Some won’t. I know if I am at the possible compromise of marrying a man like yours and having children versus NEVER having a child, I can’t do it. It won’t be right or healthy for me or my children or ther potential father. I’m not asking you to go my route. What I am asking is that you consider what compromises stand between you and marriage and children or all three, and reevaluate which of them are really going to be joyus or healthy for you and potential kids and life partner. I could be drastically wrong here but I can’t see anything in this relationship as you describe it that would qualify as a positive or healthy compromise for any woman to make.

    Oh. And, yes, to let loose my screaming agreements with Captain et al:

    MEN ARE NOT ALL LIKE THAT.(Also driving my capitals is the truth that I really loved my husband and he was wonderful–not a saint, but wonderful).


    And yes, I think you might be a great deal happier if you could explore, through counseling, what would truly make you happy in your life, in a partner, in a family…and yes, how to stop enabling this guy. I don’t want to cry bad bad your fault here–he sounds, well, horrible. —

    AND, while I’m with Darcy on the Neaderthal men concept I would go a step further and argue that they would have had to have a HUGELY higher standard or they wouldn’t have survived winter in mixed groups.

    Maybe there’s stuff you can explore in counseling that will help you make up your mind about him…all wellness and luck to you.

    1. I’m sorry for your loss LAGF… I can’t imagine how hard that has been for you *jedi hugs*

      1. Thank you so much. Yes it totally sucks. I just hope to hell it’s not a distraction from trying to answer the lw. Jedi hugs gratefully accepted and returned!

        1. lifeafter …

          I don’t want to derail this thread, but I did want to send you some internet encouragement and love. I lost my husband at 30, before we had the kiddos. It will be fourteen years this fall, since he was killed (I just redid the math in my head twice and twice because I still cannot believe its been that long), and things do change.

          I find myself in a full house these days … a husband of 4 years, a 20 year old who I took in when she was a teenager, her adolescent sister who is with us for the summer. Life is richer than I imagined it could be. My girl fills up all the empty mom-parts of my heart.

          And I realized last week that I had missed what would have been the beloved former husband’s 50th birthday, and it took me right back to the early days. And then I soldiered past it. Year two is the worst … it can get easier after that.


          1. Thanks Karnacopia–and CPA lady–anything I can ever do to be helpful, just…I donno–leave a comment on my blog? Thank you again and I am so glad for all the wonderful stuff that has come into your life.

    2. I’m so sorry for your loss.

      I thought you might appreciate Snickollet’s blog, http://snickollet.blogspot.com/–she lost her husband to cancer in their mid-thirties and has written a lot about her feelings and grief process during and afterward. Right now, as well, she is running a giveaway for widows (that sounds weird, but it’s an opportunity for widows to go and spend time with each other).

      Anyway, I’m sure there’s much more out there on the internet, but she’s a very perceptive writer, so I share the link in the hopes it might be helpful in some way.

  16. LW – I think you already know what you want to do (the imagery of a coyote gnawing its paw off to get out of the trap is a big hint…).

    I will bet you cash money right now that your boyfriend will never actively try to have a child with you. When you get to June 13, there will be another set of reasons why this can’t happen now and you need to wait another year or (and!) he will ignore what you agreed until you are forced to raise the subject again. If you do get pregnant, it will be an accident or you will have made it happen, either by nagging him into it or by sabotaging your birth control (NOT RECOMMENDED!). Children are a tie you can’t break (not without hurting them, anyway), and they flourish when they feel loved and wanted. Do you want to be tied to this man for the rest of your life, or would you rather find someone who thinks you’re amazing, loves you, respects your work and opinions, and thinks they’re lucky to be having sex (and children!) with someone as awesome as you?

    You sound like you need to build your self-esteem up (you’re not alone there, especially after a relationship that is dragging your self-esteem down), but I don’t think you can do that while you’re still in a relationship with this man. Think about the Captain’s wise advice in previous threads: “people who like you will act like they like you”. Is your boyfriend acting like he likes you? It doesn’t sound like it, from what you’ve said. You say you love him – what do you love about him? You’ve said that he’s “selfish, dirty, stubborn and feels he is the only one that has a hard day at work”, and that he doesn’t want to have sex with you except very occasionally, when he wants it on his own terms. I think you may be afraid of leaving this relationship and not finding anyone else, but being in this relationship is actively stopping you from having the chance to meet someone who might actually like and love you. Being with someone who doesn’t want you has a drip-drip-drip effect on your self-esteem – it slowly wears away your self-confidence and belief in yourself as attractive and loveable.

    I was recently talking to a woman who had decided to leave her husband ten years ago, but thought that she’d sunk ten years into the relationship and couldn’t walk away from all that time she’d spent on it, so she stayed. Ten years later she ended the marriage so, she said, instead of sinking ten years of her life into a relationship that wasn’t right for her, she’d ended up sinking twenty years into it. She was positive and happy that she’d done the right thing for her now, but said she really wished she hadn’t wasted the last ten years trying not to waste the first ten years.

    Don’t waste years (years when you could be happy, finding someone who thinks you’re amazing, and having the family you want with them) trying not to waste the years you’ve already put into this relationship.

    Just for the record, I don’t think the LW is trolling. I think English probably isn’t her first language, based on some of the phrasing in the letter, but I am just guessing at that.

    1. There are a fuckton of native speakers who just can’t write worth a darn, for various reasons. Writing and speaking are very different skills.

      1. This is true, but there are different patterns in the types of errors that native vs. non-native speakers tend to make.

          1. Hey, stop analyzing her language usage. She’s reading the thread and can tell us where she’s from if she wants to.

    2. I know someone who’s in their late teens now. Their parents hate each other; they’ve heard their mother wishing aloud that her husband would die. That relationship is probably beyond repair. Everyone involved, children included, would be better served by a household that does not eat daily at the table of hatred. It would probably make that teenager’s year if their parents split up, just to avoid the regular fights and toxic atmosphere.

      If anyone here thinks that staying together “for the kids” is a good thing — FUCK NO. GET OUT AND GET ON WITH YOUR LIVES. Maintain a civil businesslike relationship when communicating as necessary to enable the kids to spend time with the other parent, absolutely. Remaining in a marriage that has long ago died and started to stink? There is a reason that one takes out the trash.

  17. I think this week has a theme, and that theme is “Being in a relationship, any relationship, with just anyone of your desired gender: not actually awesome.”

    LW: there are men out there who want kids, who want sex and will be gentle about it, who will not be dirty or selfish or inconsiderate, and frankly, even if you don’t find one of them, at least you won’t have to worry about violence or nonconsensual leg-humping or feeling like you should chew your own arm off.

    1. 100% agree with this. Being in a relationship because you’ve convinced someone to be in one with you is not better than being single. Relationships are good when all parties involved want to be in them. Otherwise, they do not work.

      LW, if you break up with this person, you might find an amazingly awesome person who treats you well and enjoys your company and has life goals that match up with yours. Or you might not find anyone you like. But either way, you will not be in this relationship anymore, and that has to be a plus.

      1. And I have to give a loud “amen!” on the idea that being single is NOT, I repeat, NOT the worst thing that can happen to you. I’ve been completely alone since I left my abusive ex, and that was a gamble that I was willing to take.

        You deserve better, LW. More importantly, you deserve to give yourself better.

  18. Tnxs a lot to Captain awkward and everyone that commented on my letter, Sadly I\’m not a troll, and I do see what a crap of a relationship I have… well after writing this letter I also send it to a very good friend, and she read it and she say almost the same that so many of you here.

    I\’m planing to move out, it\’s not going to be easy of course but I plan to go out there by myself and see if I can make rights of this 3 year experience.

    I know I did wrong in this relationship and I\’m gonna blame my negotiation skills for the blame in nagging usually I ask for anything I want and ask and ask until I find a compromisse <– thats good for business but quite bad for relationships.

    LOL and yes english is not my first language usually I have a better gramar but I haven't had a good night of sleep in the last week.

    Again tnxs to everyone and I would write about how the break up went.

    1. I’m sorry I suggested you were a troll, LW – it was less the writing style than the “OMG, THAT IS OBVIOUSLY VERY BAD” stuff in the letter. Like, you were sad there would be no engagement ring, but matter-of-fact about The Humping.

      Good luck getting to the next steps of wherever you’re going.

    2. Big hugs to you, and congratulations! This may not have been an easy decision to make, but I think you will be a much happier and healthier person after you have left.

      Please let us know how it goes, and please stay safe…Your comments about the forcefulness, insistence on sex when he wants it, etc. make me think he might not react well to your decision. I know Captain Awkward and her commenters have written some excellent advice in the past about how to plan out leaving, if you think that is the case.

      Best wishes. There are so many better people to make a baby with. Or some people just do it on their own. But when you do eventually have a child, you will thank yourself a million times over that you didn’t do it with this guy, in this relationship.

    3. Jedi hugs to you. And congrats for doing the first hard part – deciding to get out. It’s totally not easy but from this letter it sounds like it’ll be worth doing. Best of luck to you and be safe.

    4. The very best use you can make of your three year experience is to decide what made you unhappy in it, and resolve not to make those mistakes again. You’re clearly feeling pretty bad from it; please take care of yourself for at least a few months before looking around again for a relationship. It will be good for you to have some relief from Other People’s Demands so you can regain your sense of what you want and need in life.

    5. LW, in a relationship, it is very important to have boundaries, to negotiate, and to compromise. You’re not wrong in doing those things (in fact, if anything, I would say your boundaries aren’t strong enough). I think your problem is more one of approach.

      A relationship negotiation is different than a business negotiation. The main difference is that in a business negotiation, it is sometimes a good idea to deliver an ultimatum, but in a relationship it never is. If you feel yourself getting to the point where you need to say, “do this or I walk away,” you should just walk away, because even if they do it, they’re going to resent you for it.

      To negotiate in a relationship, you should stop thinking of compromise as concessions you win from an opponent, and more as gifts you give to a partner. You compromise in a relationship by talking to your partner, finding out what they want, and giving them as much as you feel comfortable giving (but no more). If you’re in a healthy relationship, they should be doing the same for you.

      The reason for this is because you’re in love, and when you’re in love, you want to do as much for another person as possible. You compromise without strings attached, because what you’re looking for is reciprocation, and not transaction (ie not “I’ll do X so long as you do Y,” but rather “You want me to do X, and I want you to do Y, and we’ll both do those things because we want each other to be happy.”)

      Which is not to say that it will be always be easy or fun, but you should be able to trust your partner enough to tell them that you’re unhappy and know that they’ll try their best to rectify it without the need for an additional carrot (your happiness should be inducement enough). If that trust isn’t there, that is a major sign that you’re in a bad relationship (or at least, not the right relationship).

      If the above sounds really scary, it should, because being with someone in this way is a good way to get taken advantage of, and you shouldn’t necessarily rush into that level of intimacy with everyone you date, but presumably, if you want marriage and family (ie people you can trust to be beside you on your death bed, when you literally have nothing to offer), then that level of trust can be extremely rewarding — with the right person.

      1. I just wanted to clarify something about the above post. You shouldn’t be doing all the work in the relationship. It’s more that you should avoid accounting compromise, because if your partner is upholding their end, you shouldn’t feel the need to keep score.

      2. John F., this is so well stated. I had many battles about compromise and negotiation with my abusive ex. Basically he saw any compromise(on his end) as acquiecence, although I was expected to say yes to everything, all the time. Plus, also mind reading was expected.

        A healthy relationship involves lots of negotiation and compromise, done in good will, and no score keeping and angry ultimatims.

    6. It wasn’t ZOMG THIS WRITING that me hope it was a trolling attempt, it was ZOMG THIS SITUATION IS AWFUL. And I was *hoping* it was a troll.

      I am so, so glad you are getting out of this. It does not sound like a good situation and you deserve better than that.

    7. LW I am a fan of this blog so I check in to it a lot. I don’t know what the Captain’s decision will be if you do post an update but I will read the hell out of it if it goes up. Anything you can do to balance blaming your self with forgiving yourself is good–I mean, when you have feelings of blame rather than condemning your action or the feeling may it is worth a try to say “Yep, I feel that way, and no I don’t have to concentrate on the blame now; I’m concentrating on fixing it”–I’m a great procrastinator and I find that telling myself I don’t have to do something helps a LOT. (again what works for crazy lady of New England may not work for you.)

      Oh and English is an insane langauge to learn, speak and write. I’ve read it from the ground up and I’ll vouch for that. Stark raving nuts. with pompoms and cherries.
      Good health to you and I wish you well.

      1. Regarding English, and the many many sources from which it has borrowed vocabulary, grammar, and syntax, I once heard a linguist say that English is a language that mugs other languages in back alleys, picks their pockets, and only takes the lint.

    1. I enjoyed the article. The only one I quibble with is the bit about being “2 legs holding up one body”. He spent a lot of time talking about how you have to share and work together, but no time whatsoever on what happens when one leg isn’t holding up its fair share. The shares don’t have to be equal, but you still need both sides to do their part. (Enter the housekeeping and parenting debates…)

      1. I think the point he was making wasn’t that he was going to show you how to balance your workload. That’s something that every couple struggles with but isn’t something someone else can really fix.

        He’s saying that while you work on balancing the load, which is something you will probably be constantly re-doing throughout your life together, you shouldn’t carry around a mental bulletin board of black marks and gold stars. And I think he’s saying that if negotiating a balance isn’t something you can both come to honestly and with the interests of each other in mind, you probably shouldn’t get married.

        I think that is probably the hardest one on the list by far, because workloads and circumstances are constantly in flux. But I think his point about the attitude is important. If I hold every time I let the dog out instead of my partner against my partner, that’s a lot of little inequities. And if he holds every time he picks my underwear up off the floor against me, well, we’re both going to come to any conversation we have about sharing the load with a huge amount of baggage and self righteousness.

  19. “we don’t have sex… it has been a problem almost from the beginning of our relationship and it’s getting worse and worse talking doesn’t work, begging doesn’t work… I have being even violent but I don’t want to force him I believe consent is the only way…”

    Uhh . . . I’m not 100% certain what that means, but what I’m hearing is “We don’t have sex and I’ve tried everything, even being violent.” Um, did the LW just confess to attempted rape? I mean, if you’re being violent to try to get someone to have sex with you, that’s rape, right?

    1. Yeah, I cauaght that too and honestly I’m not sure why we’re being relatively kind to the LW in the comments here considering that this isn’t usually a group that’s been shy about coming down hard on LWs.

      This LW confessed to attempted rape, some of the “poor you” tones in the responses here have got me confused and honestly a bit concerned.

      1. There is NOTHING good going on between these people. Not being a therapist, rather than digging too far into any one detail (do you see the part where we were offered & declined more details?) I went with an umbrella “Leave now and for fuck’s sake don’t make a baby.” But you’re correct – violence (and the threat thereof, and constant nagging/browbeating/threatening) AND violent unwanted humping are BOTH super-rapey and not okay!

          1. She didn’t call them bad people. Doing bad things does not make one a bad person. These could potentially be two good people in a bad situation.

            Calling people bad people and saying what they’re doing is bad are completely different things.

            Well in my opinion, that is.

          2. Ugh, I feel kind of dirty saying this, but… she attempted to rape him. At least once. I’m sorry, I think raping somebody makes her a bad person. Not a bad person forever, not so bad a person we don’t have to say anything to her except YOU’RE A BAD PERSON OMG WTF, not a person who is bad in every aspect of their character, but… a bad person, yes. It’s possible that she has even moved beyond the stage of her life where she was the sort of person who did that – I didn’t get a lot of remorse around that comment but she didn’t seem to really have worked through the exact implications of her use of violence in an attempt to get sex, either.

            I really cannot get behind the idea that attempted rape is something that comes from two good people in a bad situation.

          3. I really cannot get behind the idea that attempted rape is something that comes from two good people in a bad situation.

            Agreed. I found that really jarring as well.

  20. I’m going to be a bit harsh in this response, but I hope you’ll take some of it to heart, LW. I come at this as someone who has experienced both sides of badly dysfunctional relationships.

    Some of what you’ve described in your letter goes beyond “you two aren’t great for each other, you should probably split up and seek some therapy” terrority. Some of the behaviors you describe in this letter are, in fact, straight up unacceptable and abusive. Coercing someone into finally agreeing to having kids when you knew from the start they didn’t want them is unacceptable. And yes, constant nagging mixed with “shouting” at someone is coercive behavior. Hell, shouting at someone to get what you want is unacceptable and abusive behavior. For the love of God and all that his holy, and despite your throwaway line about consent being the only one, getting violent with someone because you want sex is UNACCEPTABLE AND ABUSIVE. You mention that he will violently hump your leg despite your protests, and that too is unacceptable and abusive. I would extend the same advise to him. I focus on you because you’re the one writing the letter.

    Do not take getting out of this relationship and getting therapy as a suggestion: take is as a requirement. And please don’t think that getting out of this relationship and going to a couple therapy sessions is “enough” to make you better, either. This behavior is not only unacceptable and anywhere from borderline to straight up abusive, it’s also something that is likely to continue into the next relationship if you don’t get to the core of why you think this is the best way to handle your relationships. Do not get into another relationship until you feel that this behavior will never happen again.

    As I said, I am saying this as someone who has been on either side of extremely dysfunctional relationships. I have experienced someone’s issues acted out on me as abuse, and I have also been the person who was unable to act like a healthy, happy adult in a relationship. I’ve been guilty of gaslighting behavior in the past, and I don’t think that you entered into this relationship thinking “I’m going to mistreat this person until they do what I want”. I don’t think you’re evil, or beyond help, or anything like that. But I think it would be very tempting (as it was for me) to leave this particular relationship and think everything will be okay next time. It won’t, and as I said before, you’ve got to dig deep to find out why this behavior is something you’ve been gravitating towards. You can’t keep treating people this way.

    1. I really like this answer, Katniss, (way better than the “Are you bad? You might be bad” debate). Thank you for saying it so baldly.

      1. Thanks! I was so heated up thinking about the letter during my day at work that I wrote this down on my bus ride home and posted it the second I got home. I’m glad it was appreciated, because the letter struck a lot of chords with me.

        1. For the record (HUGH) I’m not defending anything the LW does. She threatens/attempts rape. He assaults her repeatedly. This is very bad. In the OP, I wrote “Violence and calling yourself stupid are bad. Stop it.”

          If you think the LW and partner are bad people, go ahead and think it. You’re not wrong, but I don’t think it’s a productive message when you’re trying to convince someone of something, like “Leave now” and “Don’t make a baby with that guy for sure, possibly ever.” I agree that some of the comments glossed this over, and I’m glad Katniss spoke up.

          I’ve had at least one LW who ticked off the entire sociopath/narcissistic inventory one box at a time. Saying “Wow, you are kind of terrible ” was…unconvincing…when talking to that person. Taking a cue from Jay Smooth (by rephrasing “That thing you did was racist” vs. “You are a racist”)allows you to argue about the actions instead of the person’s idea of themselves as good.

  21. I have got to agree with the comments/commenters making the point about rape. It’s a troubling revelation to me that I glossed over that in my comments. I am with you guys in that both parties here have gone past the point of consent. I agree that that is deeply wrong. For myself, because I am more than capable of letting anger range overfree, when I comment, that the more kindly and positively I can frame a point or suggestion, the better and more healpful it may be in general…but I’m glad Hugh and Katness and others have reminded me of the problematic factors of trying too hard to be heard and not hard enough to tell the truth. Thanks guys.

  22. Urgh, WordPress’s nesting is the pits. It’s better than almost everyone else’s, but it still sucks.

    I wanted to comment on the good person/bad person + attempted rape conversation that was happening up there somewhere.

    “I really cannot get behind the idea that attempted rape is something that comes from two good people in a bad situation.”

    REALLY? You’ve never been super-horny and tried to *persuade* a partner? “Maybe if you start kissing he’ll get into it?” “Maybe if I stroke her back like she likes, she’ll warm up?” Or “Well, we’re naked and I know they want to wear a condom, but maybe if I just…”

    If you have never done these things, then you are a better person than I am.

    I do not condone these things. They are all bad and rapey and I feel terrible for doing them. But they don’t mean I am a bad person now. They don’t even mean I was a bad person then. They mean that I was young and badly-educated about consent and that I made bad choices that could’ve really hurt people.

    There are no ‘bad people’, but even if there WERE, what benefit comes from making the distinction other than making ‘good people’ feel smug?

Comments are closed.