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[Relationship] Need some outsider perspective...

FiggyFiggy Fighter of the night manChampion of the sunRegistered User regular
edited March 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
I need some insight from an outsider who won't have bias or try to sugar coat this.

I've been in a relationship for almost 8 years with this girl. We now live together. I'm 25. She's 23.

We've lived together for almost 2 years now. She is a teacher, currently on short-term contracts (think 'in between substitute and contract teacher') and I am finishing up (3 weeks left) a journalism diploma, after getting a bachelor's degree in english and visual arts (been out of high school for 7 years now -- 6 of those in post-secondary)

Financially, she's better off than I am, being paid well in her chosen field--debt free. I've got a pretty substantial student debt load, and journalism is much harder to break into, especially right now. I had an internship with a major newspaper fall through because they had to lay off some union employees, which means all interns are automatically nixed. I've got another paper lined up (this is all unpaid) I've had stuff published across Canada in several papers. I currently serve as the managing editor at a college paper right now. I did work in university in journalism. I've done online work. I've got exceptional grades...I serve in a restaurant a few nights a week... basically I'm just trying to saw that I'm not a dead-beat just coasting around college/university... we split all expenses 50/50.

Anyway, recently my girlfriend and I have been getting into arguments. It happens maybe once every two weeks or so, but it's usually along the same theme: I don't spend enough time with her, or I'm not doing enough around the house or "taking initiative."

I've recently been spending a lot less time on the PC playing video games. We've joined a co-ed soccer team together. We rent movies and watch them together all the time (5-6 rentals a month). We joined a gym together and go a few times a week (or try to). I feel we do spend a lot of time together. I try to find things around the house to do, so that when she gets home she'll be pleasently surprised to see all the laundry done, or the kitchen cleaned, or the living room floor vacuumed and hardwood mopped.

From what she's been telling me, she now feels she is not happy. I feel that she seems to be coming up with new excuses every time, as I take great efforts to address the previous problems she has put forward. She says she feels our relationship isn't as strong as it used to be. She says living together is not like she imagined it would be, and she thinks we butt heads far too often. She says she is excited to come home and see me every day, but when she gets home she just finds herself not excited any more or disappointed. In a discussion about this she basically said she doesn't know why this is the case.

I'm much more laid back than her. When we get into arguments, I'm the one trying to diffuse the situation, find out what is really bothering her, and discuss ways we (or most of the time I) can make things better. I can probably be called anti-confrontational and would much rather just apologize, correct the situation, and move on than get into a fight over something trivial (dishes, laundry, etc)

I had a shitty childhood, and so when something like a sink of dishes that might be left undone will upset her to no end, I don't let much stress me out. If there's a money situation where she is worried, I'm the one easing the situation and re-assuring her that things will work out--and they always do. I know how bad things can really be in life, and I feel that my life now is 100 times better than when I was a kid... so I don't let things bother me as much, or so I feel.

Basically, I have a feeling like the relationship is on its way out. While I'm thinking ahead a few months and trying desperately to scrape together 5-6k to buy her a ring, she's telling me that I "seem to love her more than she loves me." When I ask her if she feels she wants to end the relationship, she just shrugs.

What's going on? Am I in a relationship where we're just "comfortable," and we're afraid to end something we've grown accustomed to for so long? Does she really not have the same feelings for me anymore, but she is afraid of ending it?

XBL : Figment3 · SteamID : Figment
Figgy on

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    ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited March 2009
    It sounds like you guys are comfortable, and she doesn't want comfortable. She wants shiny and new.

    Which is fine, but I wouldn't go ring shopping.

    Honestly, it sounds like she's done. :/

    ceres on
    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
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    eternalbleternalbl Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I think it sounds like she wants you to show her you really care. Its cool to come home to a clean kitchen and all that, but its not exactly romantic. She wants a candlelight dinner, or take her to a play or something.

    She might even be a little unhappy that she can push you around, or so it seems. I agree with your 'its not worth an argument' attitude, don't get me wrong, but a woman also needs to feel that her man can take care of business at the same time. If she's being unreasonable about something you should let her know.

    OTOH, if you've known someone for a long time it can be hard to re-establish boundaries in your relationship.

    eternalbl on
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    FiggyFiggy Fighter of the night man Champion of the sunRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    ceres wrote: »
    It sounds like you guys are comfortable, and she doesn't want comfortable. She wants shiny and new.

    Which is fine, but I wouldn't go ring shopping.

    Honestly, it sounds like she's done. :/

    Yeah, I'm not planning on ring shopping.. but I've been kinda planning on getting it "in the near future" for the past year or so. It's been a financial issue more than "do I want to propose" issue.

    Fuck.. she's even been pestering me to propose for the last couple years. That stupid Beyonce song gave her some musical ammunition in that regard.

    So, if things are really on the way out... it gets a bit tricky.

    We've got just over 5 months left on our lease... neither of us can afford the place we're in now on our own (especially not me).

    On my end, I'm kind of afraid to move out on my own... I would probably ask to move in to the spare room at my older brother's house. For various reasons, I can't move back "home."

    We've also got a ton of shit we've bought together (HD television, bedroom set, various furniture, etc. etc.)

    Yes.. I know that "there's some material shit" is not a reason to fret about breaking up.. but this isn't as easy as "I think we should see other people" and that's that.

    Also, to give a bit more perspective, the most recent argument (yesterday) was about her tax return. She has been asking me to do her taxes for a few weeks now. I told her a few times I would look into it, but I wasn't really comfortable doing it myself because A) She wasn't a student any more and I couldn't get an online-freebie thing B) she has investments that make it a bit trickier.

    Last night she kind of got really frustrated, wanting it taken care of. I quickly went online, we called H&R Block, etc. I told her, "It's going to be like $80-$100 if you take it to H&R Block, but it starts at $10 if I do it online myself. I can probably do it online."

    On the phone with her mom, maybe 30 minutes later, me sitting in the same room.. she says, "Yeah.. and I want to get my taxes taken care of. I've asked mynamehere a million times and he hasn't done it."

    I kinda got pissed at that, because she's bad-mouthing me to her mother.. talking about me as if I'm not sitting right the fuck there. I basically said, not so calmly, "Uh no, I told you exactly how it will work. I told you it will cost maybe $10 or more if I use the online service. Don't sit there and tell your mom I'm not helping you."

    Anyway, that ended up blowing up into a bigger argument about the whole "happiness" stuff. She went upstairs to go on the computer or something, and I did her taxes on my laptop... I got her $3500.. yeah you're welcome :P

    Figgy on
    XBL : Figment3 · SteamID : Figment
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    FiggyFiggy Fighter of the night man Champion of the sunRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    eternalbl wrote: »
    I think it sounds like she wants you to show her you really care. Its cool to come home to a clean kitchen and all that, but its not exactly romantic. She wants a candlelight dinner, or take her to a play or something.

    She might even be a little unhappy that she can push you around, or so it seems. I agree with your 'its not worth an argument' attitude, don't get me wrong, but a woman also needs to feel that her man can take care of business at the same time. If she's being unreasonable about something you should let her know.

    OTOH, if you've known someone for a long time it can be hard to re-establish boundaries in your relationship.

    I can see you being 100% right on all fronts there.

    We're living on our own, not exactly in high paying jobs.. I'm still a student.. and I don't like going out as much as we used to. We used to go out for dinner 3-4 times a month. We'd go to see practically every movie we had an inkling of seeing at the theatre. We'd go to bars every weekend.. etc. We just don't have that kind of disposable income anymore, and I don't like dropping $80-150 at a restaurant.

    I can understand she feels the romance has died a bit, and she probably feels resentment because I'm more in a poor financial state than she is... so it's almost like I'm the one holding us back from enjoying the activities we used to enjoy.

    About letting her know when she's unreasonable: she is very, very, very stubborn. I do tell her many times when I feel that she has unreasonable expectations.. in my opinion. Her usual retort is along the lines of, "Should I not tell you how I feel? You told me you want me to express what I'm feeling. It's how I feel. Am I wrong for feeling that way?"

    Sometimes.. I wish I liked guys. :P

    Figgy on
    XBL : Figment3 · SteamID : Figment
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    AlyceInWonderlandAlyceInWonderland Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    ... maybe she should do her own taxes? or learn to do them so she doesn't blame other people for her responsibilities? Or maybe I'm just not understanding the situation. Why did YOU have to do her taxes?

    AlyceInWonderland on
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    FiggyFiggy Fighter of the night man Champion of the sunRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    ... maybe she should do her own taxes? or learn to do them so she doesn't blame other people for her responsibilities? Or maybe I'm just not understanding the situation. Why did YOU have to do her taxes?

    Well, I kind of take care of those sorts of things. She's not really the brightest bulb in the chandelier when it comes to math.. bills.. etc.

    In her defence, if I would have said when she first asked, "I don't think I can do your taxes properly this year," she probably would have just taken them to a place and paid the money (it would have been almost $200 actually, after seeing how much she's getting back). Instead, I kind of made it known I would do them.. I just procrastinated until it finally got to the point it did last night.

    Figgy on
    XBL : Figment3 · SteamID : Figment
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    AlyceInWonderlandAlyceInWonderland Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I duno...I kind of suck at math a WHOLE lot too (my boyfriend is more of the math type), but I did my taxes for the first time this year, and my boyfriend showed me how to. I used turbo tax, and eveything was easy once explained. She should learn how to do them, and shouldn't bitch about you not doing them because it's actually HER responsibility. Learn how to do it, or deal.

    Sorry if I'm being an asshole... but that kind of bothers me.

    AlyceInWonderland on
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    FiggyFiggy Fighter of the night man Champion of the sunRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Well, maybe I could have taught her. She gets overwhelmed with stuff like that... and to be honest... I wouldn't want her doing them on her own. I can see her fucking something up and getting audited down the road. That's no fun.

    Still, I have a feeling it wasn't really about the taxes... and I'm worried she's just truly and positively unhappy in the relationship.

    Oddly, I'm not all that emotionally wrecked about it. Then again, emotional shit takes a long while to click for me. I've learned to build walls against getting hurt like that... and I would probably miss her a lot once it all sunk in.

    Should I talk to her about this some more, or should I give her time and see how things fall?

    Figgy on
    XBL : Figment3 · SteamID : Figment
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    admanbadmanb unionize your workplace Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Figgy wrote: »
    About letting her know when she's unreasonable: she is very, very, very stubborn. I do tell her many times when I feel that she has unreasonable expectations.. in my opinion. Her usual retort is along the lines of, "Should I not tell you how I feel? You told me you want me to express what I'm feeling. It's how I feel. Am I wrong for feeling that way?"

    Sometimes.. I wish I liked guys. :P

    That sounds more passive-aggressive than stubborn, to me.

    It sounds to me like she doesn't have any specific problem with you or the relationship, she's just... cranky. Either because she's not happy in the relationship, or because there's something else that's stressing her out. I don't think you would make things worse by calling her bullshit. You might find something out. :P

    admanb on
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    FiggyFiggy Fighter of the night man Champion of the sunRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Trust me, calling her "bullshit" would make things much, much worse. Anything that she would conceive as me invalidating how she feels would turn things into a much bigger ball of yarn.

    It's possible that she's really stressed out. She's teaching full time now, coaching a soccer team at her school to try and get recognized, thinking about getting a house (well fuck not now!), and all sorts of shit.

    Figgy on
    XBL : Figment3 · SteamID : Figment
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    eternalbleternalbl Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Figgy wrote: »
    eternalbl wrote: »
    I think it sounds like she wants you to show her you really care. Its cool to come home to a clean kitchen and all that, but its not exactly romantic. She wants a candlelight dinner, or take her to a play or something.

    She might even be a little unhappy that she can push you around, or so it seems. I agree with your 'its not worth an argument' attitude, don't get me wrong, but a woman also needs to feel that her man can take care of business at the same time. If she's being unreasonable about something you should let her know.

    OTOH, if you've known someone for a long time it can be hard to re-establish boundaries in your relationship.

    I can see you being 100% right on all fronts there.

    We're living on our own, not exactly in high paying jobs.. I'm still a student.. and I don't like going out as much as we used to. We used to go out for dinner 3-4 times a month. We'd go to see practically every movie we had an inkling of seeing at the theatre. We'd go to bars every weekend.. etc. We just don't have that kind of disposable income anymore, and I don't like dropping $80-150 at a restaurant.

    I can understand she feels the romance has died a bit, and she probably feels resentment because I'm more in a poor financial state than she is... so it's almost like I'm the one holding us back from enjoying the activities we used to enjoy.

    About letting her know when she's unreasonable: she is very, very, very stubborn. I do tell her many times when I feel that she has unreasonable expectations.. in my opinion. Her usual retort is along the lines of, "Should I not tell you how I feel? You told me you want me to express what I'm feeling. It's how I feel. Am I wrong for feeling that way?"

    Sometimes.. I wish I liked guys. :P

    Dude, money is worth about half what a good imagination is when it comes to having fun.

    Sorry, maybe I worded that poorly. But I wouldn't be terribly concerned about financials if you decided to give this a go.

    Edit: on calling bullshit, well. If someone called it bullshit when I pulled it I wouldn't be happy. Easy way to defuse a situation like that though is:

    "Whats up?" Don't acknowledge the negativity as being towards you at all, and really mean it and care what she has to say afterwards. You'd be surprised how quickly someone who was irate can calm down when they realize someone is actually listening to them.

    eternalbl on
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    FiggyFiggy Fighter of the night man Champion of the sunRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Well, like I said earlier, I feel I've made an effort to take part in things she likes to improve things... like the co-ed indoor soccer.

    I have never played soccer in my life. I have shin splints. These two factors combined make indoor soccer both painful and embarrassing.. but she loves it when we play together so I do it. It's not particularly expensive... $90 each per season (13 games or so).

    Little things like that are fun, and we go for bike rides sometimes in the warmer weather (soon again!)... I just feel like it's not the real issue.

    On my end, I feel like I try to "correct" things she is upset about and then there is a whole other problem she comes up with. When I tell her this stuff when she says we never hang out any more, she gets mad. She says I'm "missing the point."

    I don't feel I am.. at all. She says we never spend time together, I tell her I spend nearly every waking moment with her when I'm not working or in class. She says, "You're not getting it."

    I feel like marking on a calender every time I have free time I don't end up spending with her and showing her that one day... "Well, the green dots are when I had free time I spend with you. The red dots are when I had free time I did something by myself...... notice how there's like 2 red dots?"

    Figgy on
    XBL : Figment3 · SteamID : Figment
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    Lizz the BlizzLizz the Blizz Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    It may sound odd, but I think I may sort of know where she's coming from.

    I went through a similar time about a year ago now. Back then I had started working only a year ago, and my boyfriend was also still in college, finishing up his final year. We'd been together for almost 5 years then.

    Starting work was, for me, a huge change of perspective. Life shifts its focus from a series of short-term goals with almost instant satisfaction (school projects, finals, surviving until the holidays) to a series of long-term goals which require an entirely different approach (get a job I enjoy doing and am good at, start and keep up saving money, perhaps buy a house, get married and get children). You're thrown into the 9-5 schedule where you (or so it seems at first) barely have enough time to get stuff done around your home while actually having to schedule doing the things you like to be able to even do them. For me, it was also the point in life where I had to start taking the relationship absolutely seriously. Not that I hadn't been doing that for years, but the shift to these long-term goals forced me to reconsider whether I really wanted to do all this stuff together with him.

    For myself, I got horribly cranky about it and conjured up the same sorts of issues with my boyfriend, since he was the only one I could really unload that stuff on. I was unhappy, I was missing my friends, I was missing my freedom, I felt directionless and unable to achieve things the way I used to, I got constant "Is this really it?"-thoughts about life, and in general, I just really really needed to find myself some proper short-term goals. I craved some sort of change, some sort of progress in my life, and at times I initiated arguments with my boyfriend, just because our relationship was the only thing I felt I could affect in the short term.

    Mind you, this is what it felt like to me, before I was able to adjust (much thanks to the boyfriend in question).

    So, at some point, when the tensions between us came to a head, I just blurted all this crap out at him, along with a huge amount of insecurities I'd kept secret for years, and cried a good bit. He understood. After that, he pretty much proposed to me and life has changed into a huge rollercoaster.

    I'm not saying her reaction to things is exactly the same like mine was, I don't know you or her at all, so I have no way to really tell. But I wouldn't simply take her claims of being unhappy in the relationship as a sign for you two to break up. She may not fully realize just why she is feeling so frustrated, and your relationship is one of the only personal aspects of her life she can blame it on right now.

    You don't have to put up with it. If this is in fact how she feels, she is not dealing with it correctly, and in a way, that is not your problem. I know it took ME a long time to realize what was really going on, though, and at this point in my life, I'm the happiest in my relationship I've ever been. Much happier even than when it was still "new" and "shiny". There might still be hope for you two as well. :)

    Lizz the Blizz on
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    ToefooToefoo Los Angeles, CARegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    My last serious relationship was exactly as you have described. Lizz nailed it with her post though...perspectives change, and when you spend most of your time together then it's going to be you that she unloads everything on.

    It can still work out, but you need to stop being the "doormat" that you are portraying yourself as. The number one thing in a relationship is honesty, so when she is being honest and griping about what's bothering her then you need to (politely) tell her what bothers you about that. It sounds like at least you're in a better situation than most...with me, I would come home from a 12 hour shift to come home just to clean and cook, THEN be berated about what was bothering her.

    In the end, this is something you need to sit down with her and talk about. 8 years is a LONG time, and not something that is easily thrown away by either of you. Make her a nice dinner one night, sit her down and discuss what is going on. If she is genuinely unhappy with the relationship then you may need to let it go...but I have a feeling that this new lifestyle is just a bit much for her to handle. Especially with new teachers, adjusting to this new working life is very very stressful.

    Toefoo on
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    GrimmyTOAGrimmyTOA Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Hey. A little advice from someone who might have missed something in the ongoing conversation that is this thread (but tried not to). WARNING: A lot of this will be a bit Devil's advocate-y. I'm certainly not blaming you for all of your troubles.

    I agree that talking it out is one of the most constructive things you can do at this point. It's key. You need to tell her how you're feeling (she certainly seems to have no problem telling you how she's feeling). Lizz and Toe hit that part right on.

    I also, though, think that she might feel like you're taking her for granted a bit. The whole taxes thing, for example. You said that she asked you to do them a few times (after you said that you would), and you didn't get around to doing them (from her perspective) until you guys had a fight about it. You've also mentioned that the dishes in the sink don't bother you as much as they bother her. Stuff like that... well... imagine that it's seven and three-quarters years ago. Your brand-new girlfriend asks you to do her taxes (all right, you were in high school so that probably wouldn't happen, but bear with me). I'd guess that the taxes would be done by the next morning and wrapped in a big bow for her to look at. Seven and three-quarters years ago your brand-new girlfriend comes over to your place to watch a movie. Have you left a huge pile of dirty dishes in the sink? Hell no! You've scrubbed the place from top to bottom (or at least you've hidden everything that's actually disgusting) because She's Coming Over.

    Apart from anything else, she feels like you've lost sight of that over the last eight years. It's not about the time you spend together, or what you do, or the taxes, or the money (although that can be a huge issue and is one that you should be aggressive in dealing with). It's not about correcting behaviours. It's about the sense that somewhere along the way, you guys settled into a mode of life that she doesn't like. One that allows the everyday realities of cohabitation to drown the spark that made you two fall in love in the first place.

    Some miscellaneous thoughts:
    Promise less, deliver more. Don't promise to do the taxes and then not follow up. Girls hate that stuff. Either do the taxes or don't do the taxes, but decide quickly and tell her up front. (This doesn't just apply to taxes.)
    Stand up for yourself. If you're going to do something together, make it something that both of you actually want to do. If you don't want to do it, let her know. Otherwise you'll just half-ass it, and she'll know. They always know. Insist that she shows you the same courtesy.
    It's not about the time you spend together. It's never really about that. It's more about her wanting to feel like you want to spend more time with her, even if you don't have any more time to spend. She wants to feel like every instant you spend with her is your absolute first choice. Her company is a gift from God (or whatever). Don't treat it like an obligation.
    Living together is hard work. Meeting each other halfway doesn't always work. Try to meet her three-quarters of the way. See if you can encourage her to do the same.
    Eight years is a long, long time to be in a relationship. Especially in your mid/early-twenties. She might be feeling like she gave up her wild years to be with you, and that can be frightening (even if she has no interest in wildness, per se). That's just something to think about -- I don't have any pithy words to help with that one.

    Anyway, this has gotten really long and preachy. It wasn't intended to be either. Good luck! I hope that everything works out for you two.

    GrimmyTOA on
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    FiggyFiggy Fighter of the night man Champion of the sunRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Thanks for the advice all. We're planning a "getaway" over Easter weekend... we discussed things a bit more and she said she wants to get away from all the obligations and the routine of our life for a day or two.

    We'll see how things progress from here. The argument is over, we've talked about it, and she has said multiple times that she doesn't want to end it.

    I guess now we wait and see if the same issues keep resurfacing.

    Thanks again guys! I'll resurrect this thread if I need more of the sound advice! And Lizz, that's basically what she expressed to me today, what you were feeling.

    Figgy on
    XBL : Figment3 · SteamID : Figment
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