Just a phase or?

Discussion in 'Advice (Dear AE...)' started by mlacey80, Nov 25, 2016.

  1. mlacey80

    mlacey80 New Member

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    So... I've been with my girlfriend almost 3 years. For at least 6 months - maybe more? I've been having doubts. But I'm not sure why exactly. Sure not everything is perfect (more on that later), but overall we have it pretty good. She is super nice and considerate to me (most of the time hah). She recently dropped me off and picked me up at a bar so I could go have fun and drink with friends. She's pretty thoughtful, buys me things she knows I will like, etc. She even has tried to get into some of the same interests as me over time. We travel well together and laugh and have a similar sense of humor. So in some ways, probably the best girlfriend I've ever had.

    Some not so great stuff - she is horrible with money so when she buys me gifts I end up paying for them in the end because she goes broke and I have to pay for everything. She's a little bit clingy (calls 5-6 times a day sometimes). She's lazy. She's super rude to other people and doesn't like a lot of people including some of my friends which is why I go out solo sometimes. We also tend to argue A LOT but usually over stupid stuff, and often it's more of a "fun" argument to see who wins more than anything. If I want to vent about something stupid or silly, sometimes I can't because she is like "what's the point - how does that affect me?" Especially true if it's about a friend she doesn't like.

    Overall though, things are good. I just don't know if there is future potential. I want to get married and have kids but the arguing and money issues and laziness scares the crap out of me. Then again, no one is perfect and some of the good things we have are missing in other relationship. I know I have to take the good with the bad and I don't want to throw away all the good because the relationship is now perfect..
     
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  2. Bluenote

    Bluenote Well-Known Member

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    It doesn't sound to me like what you are going through is phase. It sounds as though you have legit questions about having a long term future with your gf.

    Reading between the lines of your opost, you are asking a series of questions:
    1) Do I think this woman is mother to my children material?
    2) Do I feel comfortable marrying this woman and spending the rest of my life with her?
    3) Things with us are OK, but not perfect. Is that a big red flag, or am I just falling into a "the grass is always greener on the other side" trap?
    4) Things with us are OK, but not perfect. Should I risk blowing up something OK in the hopes of finding something wonderful?

    As you can see, these questions are all somewhat related. But let's take them in order, from the biggest deal breakers, to the more flexible ones.

    1) Do I think this woman is mother to my children material?
    It is true that people look for different things from relationships at different times. That wild, fun sexy girl that you were on again off again with in college, is probably not the person you want to settle down and buy a house with. It is completely legit (and very responsible of you) to be looking at your gf and saying "is she mother material?"

    It might be helpful if you expanded on what your concerns are. Is it that you think laziness does not mix well with having kids? Are you afraid that she will set a bad example and teach them to be rude, to not get along with other people? Are you worried that her money issues will jeopardize the children? Get all your concerns out and really take a look at them. Are there deal breakers on the list?

    Obviously, there is a difference between what people do and who they are. If it is just a few things someone does - those can be worked on and changed. A wonderful person can have shit money skills. But you don't throw the baby out with the bath water - you find a way for that wonderful person to get better money skills. However, if there is whole list of issues, it goes beyond just needing to develop a few skills.

    If your gf needs a whole personality makeover to be mother material, that goes beyond a few things she does into the core of who she is. And that is a big, fat, screaming red flag. "Honey, you would be a great mother - if you just totally change who you are." People don't usually change who they are. If given ultimatums, they sometimes 'act' different, but the act slips away when the outside pressure goes away. If you can't find someone who will be a good, responsible mum, you really shouldn't have children - it's not fair to them to bring them into a screwed up situation.

    2) Do you want to spend the rest of your life with this woman?
    Obviously, the answer to that is related to question 1, above. If you can't imagine a lifetime of frequent money issues, fighting about stupid stuff and dealing with her chronic laziness, then this really isn't for you. You really have to take a look at her issues and ask yourself - can you compromise on these? Are these things too big of a deal breaker?

    3) I don't think that you are just falling into a grass is always greener trap. It sounds like your gf has some real flaws. But you are the only person who can say if those flaws are deal breakers for a mother / wife. And only the two of you can sort out - are these things she can change, or is this really about her whole personality?

    4) Should you blow up the OK to hold out for wonderful? Honestly, it doesn't sound like you would be blowing up something 'ok' to me. It sounds like what you have is 'ok for now, but would be bad as a wife / mother.' So the question more is:

    5) Things are OK for now, but I don't see her as a wife / mother. Is it ok to end something that is good enough now, because I know it won't be good enough in the future.

    The answer to that question is yes - it i ok to end a "good enough" relationship because you know that it isn't right long term. In the end, that type of relationship is doomed anyhow. Ending things is less painful for all involved than trying to raise children with someone who is a lousy parent. It is fine to have some kind of standard and say "I want to be with a woman who will be a good mother, a good wife, who works hard, someone that I really click with." Honestly, that is not an unrealistic bar to set.

    I don't know if your gf meets that bar. Really, only you can judge that. You really need to think about your concerns with her and ask yourself - are these little habits that she can get over / I can live with, or are my issues really about the core of her personality.

    Good luck and post followups if you need.
     
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  3. lorienczhiu

    lorienczhiu Well-Known Member

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    You don't need an iron-tight reason to break up. There is no perfect reason, no cumulative score of disappointment and character flaws, no laundry list of problems that adds up to automatic breakup recommended. The only reason to end a relationship is that you want to end it.

    And, my friend, it sounds like you want to end it. Just for fun, let's look at that laundry list:
    Pros: reasonably considerate, gives you rides, buys you presents, is good traveling companion
    Cons: poor at money management (you pay for on presents), clingy, lazy, rude, doesn't like your friends or treat them kindly, somewhat impatient/inconsiderate (re: the venting), lots of arguing

    That is a a lot of things that sound like they make long-term stability and day-to-day functioning a little stressful inside this relationship! And it seems like the good things will become less important if you decide to merge your finances through marriage and have children, while the bad things will become more important (and therefore more difficult). The question that is important to ask yourself, I think, is: if nothing changes, will you be happy in this relationship? That means:
    - If your partner always mismanages money, will you be okay with taking responsibility, handling the budget, giving her an allowance if necessary, covering her debts?
    - If your partner is still rude to your friends, will you be happy with your support network when you start a family?
    - If arguing remains a key part of your dynamic, will you be comfortable and happy with that around your children?
    - If your partner always does less than what you perceive as her share (she's "lazy"), will you be happy taking on the lion's share or reminding her to help out when your responsibilities increase (babies: a ton of work no one wants to do!)?
    - If your partner never wants to be a sounding board for you, will you have the outlets and support you need to navigate challenges ahead?

    My answer to those questions might be different than yours. Maybe the rides to the club and the thoughtfulness of the presents you pay for and the traveling adventures are so great that you are willing to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to Being The Grownup. For me, I look at the things she doesn't handle or isn't willing to do, and see a real red flag in terms of her readiness to do some actual hard work to be your partner; that work includes learning to handle money so you don't have to be stressed or bail her out, find ways to cultivate mutual friends so that you have a common support network and community, and handle her anxiety around your relationship without having to call you a half-dozen times a day. None of these things are dealbreakers, but they are all indicators of how willing she is to be uncomfortable, challenged, or to make a change on your behalf. Marriage is long and full of challenges, because life is long and full of challenges, and you want to know that the person in your corner is willing to do some real work to build, maintain, and grow your love even when things are not easy.

    No one is perfect, but there are women out there who love to travel, are considerate gift-givers, make you laugh - and taught themselves to budget the second time they ran out of money, have the social skills to be around people who are not their favorites, and don't argue for fun. "Taking the bad with the good" is important, but you still get to choose the bad you will put up with - and what you want are flaws that you can live with, that don't really bother you that much at the end of the day. (My wife can't multi-task in the kitchen; I find it hilarious and sweet rather than irritating when she burns the toast or boils the coffee every time she tries to make me fancy breakfast. When she gets mad she shuts down, but I grab a book and wait until she's ready to talk rather than getting upset by it. Et cetera.) You are the only one who can decide if working around or tolerating her flaws is okay with you, but it's really, really okay if you decide that it's not and go looking for someone whose particular brand of imperfection is a little less stressful to you. You're not being overly picky or unrealistic if you want someone you can trust with money, who does her share, who doesn't argue so much, to commit to and raise children with in the long term.

    Good luck.
     
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  4. mlacey80

    mlacey80 New Member

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    Yep! Those are pretty much exactly the questions I'm asking myself.
    1. I think some of my concerns are things she will grow out of and some I'm not sure. Ie., her lack of money skills she may grow out of and learn how to handle money better but also that is not a guarantee. The money stuff has been REALLY stressing me out and and I'm paying double for everything all the time essentially. Other things like the laziness, etc., may change to some extent as well since she's not working right now. But it's also frustrating when someone is not working and then most days doesn't do anything around the house either so I come home and have to clean and stuff too. Though she has been better some days recently about doing house stuff. She DOES hire a maid to come clean even though she can't pay rent. Ugh.... But those things seem like they would be REALLY stressful with children in the mix.

    Thanks for the reply! :)
     
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  5. mlacey80

    mlacey80 New Member

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    Yes! The relationship can be stressful from day to day. It comes and goes. Lately not as stressful but over the past 6 months or so I have definitely felt it. That's also about how long she's been not working so many a job will help?
    No, I wouldn't be okay covering debt, etc. Maybe if she really trying really hard and something bad happened but just being lazy and bad about money is not working for me.
    The arguing point is a great point and yes I feel like we would argue around our children. Even if it's "silly" stuff, that affects kids.
    I'm okay not necessarily having "equal" work, but really really lopsided would be bad.
    I've been trying to find new sounding boards lately. I've been going out regardless of if she wants to go out or not. It's turned in to a lot of nights with me flying solo to see if that helps our relationship or not, but I'm not sure if that's the best path or good in the long run. Separate friends are okay, but never going out together with other people or having them over the the house wouldn't work. Ie., I have to get the guest list approved every time I'd want to invite people over and many of they get vetoed.

    Thanks for you input!! :)
     
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  6. lorienczhiu

    lorienczhiu Well-Known Member

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    Maybe. But I do think it's really important to look at right now, what is happening in your relationship and in your lives in this moment, and think about your happiness if it doesn't change.

    Because let's be real: sometimes people are out of work for years. Sometimes going back to work just stresses them out more. Some people are chronically unemployed. And sometimes we look for surface-level problems to explain deeper behaviors. The dynamic that's going on right now is important to look at honestly: what does it say about how she thinks about her responsibility to you? to herself? to your home? and by extension, what will it mean about how she values and thinks about your children? your household? your marriage?

    Her behavior so far tells you a lot about how things will continue. So, if what you have right now is what you get forever, is it something that you want?
     
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  7. Bluenote

    Bluenote Well-Known Member

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    @mlacey80 , honestly, your gf's behavior is throwing up red flags for me of a 'bait and switch' relationship.

    I am going to page @Spygirl , who has a lot of insight into this kind of stuff from her work.

    The classic bait and switch is pretty simple, the gf is charming for you and puts in work with the relationship, that is the bait. But to everyone else, she can be rude, lazy, inconsiderate. Then, once she really has her hooks in - co own a house / joint accounts / married / kids / whatever combination - boom, time for the switch. She quits being charming and putting in work, preferring to let her partner carry the load. The partner is then stuck between a rock and a hard place - 'do I divorce this woman, take the financial hit and raise the kids as a single mum? Or pretty much carry this woman, but avoid the hassle of a divorce?'

    First off, look at your gf's behavior over the long term of your relationship. What is the trend? Has she gone up and down with how much she has contributed? Or has it been a gradually downward trend? When you confront her about her behavior is she better for a little while, only to slip back? Was she more considerate or responsible before you moved in together, or when you first moved in together? If so, those are all warning signs that you are in a bait and switch type situation. The downward trend is her behavior and it is likely to continue - to keep following that downward trend. That she pretended to be a certain person to 'hook' you, but now is starting to show her true colors.

    The scenario you have described - gf doesn't work, doesn't clean, 'buys' things that you actually pay for, picks dumb fights - is not sustainable in the long term. It sounds like you are doing the majority of the work in the relationship (say 75% : 25% depending on how much she contributes financially).

    Do you think you can achieve your life goals - having kids / owning a home / having financial security for your family / whatever - if 75% of the work is going to fall on you? Do you think you can do those things if her current behavior - over spending and expecting you to pick up the tab, dumping the cleaning on you, picking dumb fights - will continue?

    What will happen if she keeps following the downward trend? If the relationship his 90% 10%? If her overspending balloons into bills you can't cover for her? If bailing her out for extras - like gifts, cuts into things like savings, or things you wanted for the kids like piano lessons? Or if she overspends on the kids and they learn to be very entitled from watching her example?

    Much of the time, I am 'relative' about relationships. As long as everyone is a consenting adult, people can be happy in lots of different styles of relationships. There is no one 'right' way to have a relationship. But there are some wrong ways. No one is happy in a relationship that is built on dishonesty, that is exploitative, where there is abuse.

    I am not saying that your gf is abusive, but I do see red flags that there is big time deceit on her part. That she is pulling a bait and switch on you, with no intention of living up to her promises long term. Of course I can't prove that - it is just my gut feeling. But if I were in your shoes, I would negotiate a path forward - she looks for a job, pays the rent and expenses 50 / 50, does chores 50 / 50, (or gets a break on expenses for doing more chores) no more overspending and dumping the tab on you, sticks to a household budget. If she doesn't keep to that plan, I would dump her and move out as soon as you can get out of the lease.

    Good luck and post more if you need.
     
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  8. Spygirl

    Spygirl Well-Known Member

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    I've been paged...and wow, do I have a lot of thoughts about this kind of stuff. Let me give some examples then follow up with my thoughts:

    Example #1: Personal, though not to my own situation. My brother married a woman whom I despise (and this is one of the reasons); when they met, she had a decent masters level degree job counseling veterans (he's a veteran but they didn't meet through work). They moved to a different state, had a daughter when suddenly wife wanted to be stay at home mom. My brother was in vocational rehab and getting a stipend from the gov't due to his military medical issues and was in classes obtaining degreed training in IT. She worked, but rarely. They faced massive financial issues because (1) for her to be a counselor in her state she needed to take an additional class or two to gain licensure; and (2) my brother's stipend while in school was not enough to cover the bills. Facing foreclosure on their home, what do they do? Decide to have another child (she was also 41), when their financial situation was dire. And yes this was a "decision" because they hate each other so much that having another child required them to actually sleep together. Flash forward to today; my brother is doing everything financially -- good job but can't get ahead. Meanwhile his wife decided she wants to be PTA mom of the year and stay at home mom but she will not take any efforts to get a job (thinking she's entitled). Life doesn't work that way -- he pays for her car, house, cellphone, insurance. He is filing bankruptcy and she sits and still expects him to pay for everything. She refuses to work -- with an attitude as to why should she contribute when he doesn't want to be with her (this is her logic not mine). I see her woe is me posts on Facebook all the time and have refrained from telling her what a piece of shit I think she is (she has done some despicable things in terms of moral character too).

    I bring this up as one of the worst case examples of someone who won't contribute to a relationship (or even act like an adult as divorce is looming);

    Example #2 - my wife and me. I make more money than she does, and we knew this going into the relationship. However, we have a realistic view as to what it takes to contribute to a relationship -- while she can't contribute equally on a financial level, she will do things like -- help me with some of my office administrative things or do the laundry (her choice and I never asked her to do this). So from a contribution standpoint, we contribute equally though those contributions aren't equal in terms of money. The difference to me is the effort -- while in our relationship she went back to school and got her Masters and much of her income supported me while I took no salary to start a business. And, we both learned during times like these to have the same perspective about management of money (when we first met, she was a spender....I was a saver and this did cause a few issues) Now that we've been able to define goals we are on the same page as to what to do with our money.

    The point to all of this is expectations. I couldn't be in a relationship where I felt as if someone were taking advantage of me; I'm not about supporting someone who doesn't want or try to help herself and the relationship. There's a difference between being in a temporary situation -- say being out of a job -- and choosing not to contribute (i.e. my brother's wife). Sure..money isn't always equal -- but don't you expect someone to at least try to meet you as much in the middle as she can?

    YOU have to ask yourself as to whether you're giving more in this relationship, not only in terms of money, but in terms of emotional support as well. Is she even making an effort to be supportive? Does she understand that being emotionally supportive also means addressing the financial stressors you're experiencing as a result of her situation? Is she being respectful of you enough to say "Wait a minute...i'm doing these things and it's causing my g/f to be upset?" My wife worked at Target for the first several months of the relationship until she got her licensure and job in this state because she wanted to feel as though she were contributing. It wasn't much..but it's the principle. If this woman isn't contributing now, when you throw children into the mix --especially if you're the one doing all the financial contributions as well as the raising of them, the resentment you may be feeling now certainly will be overwhelming.

    As for the arguing -- well, I don't understand why someone would constantly want conflict unless she's not happy....

    Most of all, you need to figure out whether these are true character flaws on her part (my mother has always been irresponsible with money and at 70 still is...and never grew out of it)...or whether she can overcome this issue and contribute to your relationship meaningfully, if not on an equal financial plane.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 27, 2016
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  9. Emm

    Emm Well-Known Member

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    Yeah... I'm going to be more blunt than the others, sorry...
    But your girlfriend comes across as lazy, rude and selfish.

    Sure it's great that she buys you things but if it's more than she can afford, and she's not working and she uses you as the financial fall back repeatedly that's not a nice gesture at all. Coming from someone who's not working it sucks having to be careful with money but that doesn't mean I don't find ways to make my girlfriend feel adored without breaking the bank.

    If you walked into a bar and met a girl who made you laugh and who you had fun with and then you realised she hated all your friends, was self centred enough to not even feign caring about your day to day issues unless it was directly related to her, was obviously rude to others and had zero ability to realistically manage money or have impulse control (or creativity about making you feel special sometimes)... (God this sounds so much like my ex it's unbelievable)... Would you want to start a relationship with that kind of person? Because honestly if you wouldn't start dating someone like that then why would you continue to date someone like that?

    If those things matter to you, which I'm assuming they do, then you need to walk. They're all pretty fundamental core values that won't change in a person.
     
    #9
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2016
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  10. mlacey80

    mlacey80 New Member

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    Well that pretty much hit the nail on the head! The good thing is she does help out in some other ways that I didn't mention. Ie., I have a side business and she does a lot of work for me to make my life easier with that. Which is great, but doesn't really make up for the other stuff. She's also trying to find a job but having a rough go of it and I wish should would have just taken a low paying job for the time being until she found something she wanted to do (and she has no idea what she wants to do).

    I just found some questions from a book called Too good to leave, too bad to stay and they hit me...

    Would you say that to you, your partner is basically nice, reasonable intelligent, not too neurotic, okay to look at, and most of the time smells alright? Yes to most of that, but I wouldn't use the term basically nice to describe her unless it applies to me only. Also not a big choice of her scents she uses but that seems shallow to me...

    Does it seem to you that your partner generally and consistently blocks your attempts to bring up topics or raise questions, particularly about things you care about? This definitely happens though maybe not consistently.

    Do you feel a unique sexual attraction to your partner? Not really but also seems shallow. She gained a lot of weight (like 50#) since she started dating. Makes it for me to be attracted as horrible as that sounds.

    When the subject of intimacy comes up between you and your partner, is there generally a battle over what intimacy is and how to get it? We don't talk about it much but when we do it's no productive.

    So yeah. I think I know what I need to do...
     
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  11. TheScandinavian

    TheScandinavian Well-Known Member

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    I think you should break up with her. Yes, you even said that she's got flaws and we all do but money is a HUGE factor, let's be real here. Financial stability is crucial for everybody, especially if you want to have kids. Maybe you're just killing time with her, which would be fine if she is doing the same. However, I still suggest you break up with her as you two need to be alone to understand yourselves and later on, each other better.
     
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  12. greylin

    greylin Well-Known Member

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    I think you already don't like her in a big way and you can't expect her to change. So, I would not continue down the path and her disappointing you. I think you guys are better off going into separation counseling mode. I do recommend counseling. It is time you at least clue her in on how unhappy you are and how shaky you feel for your future. For me, my biggest nightmare would be my gf having to ask someone in a forum whether or not there is a future for us. I think if that happens, I would understand the degree of breakdown we must have had in order for her to have to ask for such help. I think I would feel very badly of how I must have been as a partner to cause that.

    But I hope you indulge me with some other thoughts I have about this:

    I think you are wanting to leave her but she has done enough nice things for you that you feel guilty. I don't want to judge her because there is already a running ledger here of what she contributes to the relationship and what she doesn't. It sounds like she helps you with the side business but you would rather she brings in cold hard cash.

    I think she is depressed. The weight gain and the messy house could be telltales of that. A person who is out of work for a while fears rejection. She is comfortable working for you and she is taking care of things enough that you don't have to worry about it. I hope you pay her for her work because that will help boost her confidence. And whatever moneys she gets from working for you is her budget. You don't share credit cards or bank accounts, so she can not overdraw your end of things. I have met married couples who have completely separate bank accounts to keep money spending habits congenial. Money is certainly a sore spot for a lot of couples. When the summation of your relationship becomes a ledger, it is very troubling. I hope you guys dig your way out of this and find happiness again.
     
    #12
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