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Unsure of what to do about relationship - any views much appreciated

(76 Posts)
AndLibbyMakesThree Thu 27-Feb-14 10:57:52

I met C on a dating site, and we've been together for about 15 months. He's kind, caring, intelligent, active, we enjoy lots of the same things, he's fantastic with my son, who has special needs, and I adore his DC.

However, there's one problem which is really getting to me. He has a tendency to get frustrated/cross, and I find it really difficult to deal with. It's happened in various different situations, and some of them seem very minor things from my point of view. I'm not used to it - my previous partners have always been quite laid back, and it's simply never been an issue before.

We've spoken about it several times, and he tells me he's improved a lot from how he used to be. Apparently he used to shout a lot, and he almost never does this now. I appreciate that he's probably much better than he used to be, but at the same time, I hate the fact that nice times can be spoiled by him snapping or being cross about something minor. I think one problem is that we're a bad combination in this way - I admit I'm over-sensitive and very easily hurt, whereas I think many people would just let it pass them by. (I should point out that he's not aggressive, or verbally nasty, usually just a bit snappy, so I'm wondering if it's me making too much of normal behaviour and expecting him to be perfect).

After the last occasion, at the weekend, we haven't seen each other. I've told him that I'm not happy being in a relationship where this keeps happening. I feel this is his issue, not mine, and it's something that he has to work on (if he wants to). But I'm not sure he can work on it while we're together, as I'm the one who keeps on getting upset by his behaviour, and I don't want to continue in that way. I'm also scared it will get into a 'treading on eggshells' situation.

But at the same time, I feel terribly sad about losing this relationship. In many ways it's great, and I wonder if I'm making far too much of a fairly small problem, and throwing away a good relationship over it. He has so many good points, and I know how hard it is to find someone I like as much as him. I'm also far from perfect myself, yet he isn't giving me ultimatums to change or he'll leave me, and I hate the thought that I seem to be doing that to him.

Sorry for the length of this, but I'm feeling very sad and confused, and would really appreciate any views. Thanks.

HotDAMNlifeisgood Thu 27-Feb-14 11:05:40

Can you give a couple examples of times where he's snapped or been cross?

AndLibbyMakesThree Thu 27-Feb-14 11:13:44

Yes, I suppose it's hard to say without me giving examples. I think I'm just a bit wary of outing myself. I also think the examples sound really silly and minor.

But anyway, one example was that we were queuing at an airport, and he was being moody and non-communicative because we had to queue. Obviously no one likes queueing, but I was all happy because we were going on holiday, and his reaction really spoilt the beginning of the holiday.

Another example is when he came round last summer (after we'd had our first big disagreement and were both a bit upset) and he threw his coat on the floor in a fit of temper because I hadn't given him a kiss as soon as I'd opened the door.

Another time he was cross because the sound of one of his DC singing (nicely) and a fire engine going past were too noisy for him!

It's so hard to pick examples (obviously there are others I could give), and I appreciate these sound so trivial, but I guess that's partly what I want help with - is it me not being able to put up with normal behaviour, or should he be able to control his reactions better?

HotDAMNlifeisgood Thu 27-Feb-14 11:32:38

First example: he's a downer. Up to you whether you can ignore it and not let it affect your own mood.

Second example: more troubling, as it's aimed at you. A punishment of sorts.

Third example: he doesn't adapt to reality with much good grace, does he?

It sounds like your question is more about you, though: how should you be reacting. I'm actually really interested in hearing what others say, as I've been wondering myself where our standards for relationship partners end and perfectionism begins. But ultimately, it sounds to me like you're just going to have to make a personal choice about what you can and cannot accept in a relationship partner. It's not wrong to be put off by behaviour that puts you off, iyswim.

AndLibbyMakesThree Thu 27-Feb-14 11:40:34

Thanks for your reply. That's an issue I have too - obviously we can't expect partners to be perfect (especially as we're not) but where do we draw the line?

I find his reactions affect me badly. I'm very sensitive to atmosphere and hate it if anyone's feeling sad, cross, left out, etc. In that way we're a bad combination! So while he might be feeling fine 15 minutes later, I'll often be feeling upset by his reaction for the rest of the day.

One of the worst things is that I can't see it improving much. I feel this is who he is, and it's unlikely he's going to be able to massively change a part of his personality, especially as we're both in our 40s.

Lweji Thu 27-Feb-14 11:42:54

It's not a good relationship if you keep getting hurt.

He sounds too much work and my feeling is that if you ever live together or more, his behaviour will get worse very quickly.

For your sake and of your son, you should leave him now. Even if he does improve it is likely that it will be for your benefit and to hook you.

HotDAMNlifeisgood Thu 27-Feb-14 11:46:19

PS: Cod psychologist hat on. It sounds to me like he's quite the perfectionist himself, you know: being moody because there's a queue, because there's noise, because you didn't follow the ideal reconciliation script he had in his own mind...

So even if he's not asking you to change in so many words, he sounds - from those three examples - like someone who gets upset when reality doesn't match how he would prefer things to be.

Aussiemum78 Thu 27-Feb-14 11:49:30

The second example is the one that stands out. After an argument he felt the need to throw down his coat and be stroppy because you weren't all over him? He sounds arrogant and a bit intimidating.

The airport could go either way but is concerning - he made you feel bad and the atmospher was tense? It's not your fault. Normal is to grumble about the line, not sulk and make you feel uncomfortable.

I'd be worried he will get worse and you will be running around constantly trying to appease him and avoid his moods.

Squirrelsmum Thu 27-Feb-14 11:56:23

He chucked a tanty because you didn't greet him at the door with a kiss?
He sounds like hard work, good on you for putting you first, hotDAMN is right, I could easily see this a few months down the line where you wouldn't be game to put a foot wrong for fear of him having a hissy fit over it.

You know what you can handle and you don't want to handle this.
I couldn't be doing with it either to be honest.
You have a gut instinct for very good reasons.
Listen to your gut. It knows best.

AndLibbyMakesThree Thu 27-Feb-14 11:58:04

Thanks for the replies - I haven't talked to anyone about this IRL so it's very interesting to hear what people think.

Lweji, I too fear this might get worse if we lived together. I'm guessing he was on his best behaviour when we were first together, and I'm worried it could get worse rather than better.

Hot, I think you're right that he gets upset when reality doesn't match how he thinks things should be. However, when it comes to me, I would say he's very accepting of my and my faults, which is one of the many things I really like about him.

Aussiemum, I did feel a bit intimidated by the coat incident, not to mention totally shocked. And your last sentence is one of the things I worry about - for example, if we went on holiday again and there was a long queue, I'd instantly feel anxious.

waybuloony Thu 27-Feb-14 11:59:58

I think Hot has it spot on by saying he's a perfectionist. Obviously no-one is perfect but he has very high expectations of you...can you cope with this pressure, particularly when it affects you so deeply? I fear it will get worse...

I can relate to this as it sounds like my relationship with DH. It's hard work and starts to affect your self-esteem when you realise you (or your DC) can't ever live up to their ideals.

It just sounds like you're not compatible.

I can be a grumpy cow sometimes. I'm lucky to have a DH who just rolls his eyes at it and knows it will only last a few minutes and then I'll apologise (does your boyfriend apologise?)

You can get wrapped up in thinking about whether your boyfriend is right or wrong to act this way, but in the end it doesn't matter really -- I think you've explained quite well why you just don't fit together. It's a shame if things are nice otherwise but this is not a small problem and it won't go away.

AndLibbyMakesThree Thu 27-Feb-14 12:03:19

Squirrelsmum, I feel very definite that if it comes to me adapting my behaviour, that's not on. But it's so hard, as these occasions obviously aren't all the time, and it's hard to chuck a relationship away when everyone has faults. For example, my ex didn't do this kind of thing, but he had no get up and go and loved his mum far more than me. And I'm never going to find someone perfect.

Hellsbells, my gut is torn between wanting to continue with the relationship for its many, many positive points, but not wanting this aspect of it. I wonder if it's possible for him to work on himself so that I could be with him but without this side of him - or is that just asking too much?

AndLibbyMakesThree Thu 27-Feb-14 12:07:27

Waybuloony, strangely enough he doesn't seem to expect me or DS to be perfect at all. He's very tolerant of my many faults, and that's one of the reasons I feel so bad making such a bad thing about his. I don't think he expects me to be perfect, it's more perhaps that he gets upset at other things in life going wrong.

dreaming, thanks, it's really helpful to hear about it from the other point of view. I think you're right, many people wouldn't be bothered by the way C acts, but I feel very hurt by it. He'll usually apologise at some point if I bring it up, though not straight away.

HotDAMNlifeisgood Thu 27-Feb-14 12:08:16

my gut is torn between wanting to continue with the relationship for its many, many positive points, but not wanting this aspect of it. I wonder if it's possible for him to work on himself so that I could be with him but without this side of him - or is that just asking too much?

It's about what you can (and cannot) accept, not about what he can change.

Can you let go being emotionally affected by his moods, roll your eyes and let it slide, or not?

It's ok if you can't: you are who you are.

Lweji Thu 27-Feb-14 12:09:50

He's not that accepting of you if he threw a strop because you didn't kiss him immediately.

Does he make you feel like you have many faults and he is so nice to accept them? hmm

I don't think it is a problem of perfection, but compatibility. I can see this becoming a really big issue in your relationship with time, as it already is becoming to you. I think the longer you let it go, the harder will be to leave and the more damaged you'll become by it.

AndLibbyMakesThree Thu 27-Feb-14 12:12:44

HotDAMN, that's interesting. Why isn't it about what he can change? I'm not disagreeing with you, but I just thought that as it's his behaviour which isn't great in these situations, he should be the one to change, rather than me having the choice of putting up with it or walking away. (I've already accepted I can't change his behaviour as it's not me who causes it). Could you explain why you said that, please?

AndLibbyMakesThree Thu 27-Feb-14 12:15:50

Lweji, the coat incident has been the worst of our time together and definitely wasn't acceptable. But no, he doesn't make me feel I have lots of faults, far from it - he seems really happy with me. But I know myself I have faults which I'm working on.

I think you could be right and it's a compatibility issue, which is very interesting as I hadn't quite thought of it like that before. And you're also right in that the longer we're together, the harder it is to leave. Hmmm, lots of food for thought, thanks.

HotDAMNlifeisgood Thu 27-Feb-14 12:18:14

Because he is who he is too. Since you can't change his behaviour, the only thing left is to accept it, if you can.

This isn't going to be easily changeable behaviour for him either. This is about his personality, pretty deeply ingrained. He might be able to check some of it, in specific instances, if he feels sufficiently motivated to, but it will keep coming out in many different ways. Do you want to counter them all? Have A Talk about each incident that comes up?

Sounds exhausting.

Lweji Thu 27-Feb-14 12:21:40

In the same way that you can't really change who you are.

He could complain that you are too sensitive and should just let his behaviour slide.

AndLibbyMakesThree Thu 27-Feb-14 12:23:12

HotDAMN, your last post really resonated. That's what we've done before - A Talk about every incident. And yes, it's exhausting and impacts on the rest of our relationship. And I totally agree (and have said to him) that I think the behaviour is deeply ingrained and would be very hard to change. I thought perhaps he'd be motivated to change it for the sake of our relationship, but it seems he hasn't, and that makes me sad.

Lweji Thu 27-Feb-14 12:24:10

Whatever faults a partner has, they will be increased when the relationship becomes more intimate and people relax.

If we can't accept those faults, then we should move on.

People can work on their faults (or characteristics) but only if they want to and recognise it as a problem.

AndLibbyMakesThree Thu 27-Feb-14 12:26:17

Lweji, obviously you and HotDamn are saying the same thing, and I guess you're both right - it's no easier for him to change who he is than it is for me to change who I am. (I've tried to stop being over-sensitive for years but with virtually no success).

Is this kind of behaviour quite common? Have I just been lucky not to have come across it in other partners?

MorrisZapp Thu 27-Feb-14 12:30:19

You find yourself acting in 'cheer up' mode, trying to jolly him out of his bad mood.

Then in a few more months the bad mood becomes the default setting, and cheering up is your full time job.

That's my experience anyway.

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