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Am I flogging a dead horse?

(27 Posts)
Aethra Mon 29-Oct-12 15:06:52

So, it looks like my 3 year relationship with DP has come to an end. Throughout the 3 years there have been some serious issues, which have stood in the way of him moving in with me and the DCs - largely his concerns about feeling he had to "fit in" with my life rather than having his own. This was largely down to me having 2 DCs and him not having any. He became a part of the DCs' lives and naturally, the timing of our social arrangements and what we did together tended to be determined by when the DCs were at home and when they were with their dad. Often I couldn't go to "his" things because of the DCs, e.g. DD's birthday party was arranged, subsequently DP's mother's 60th was arranged for the same day. So I couldn't go to his mum's party as was holding DD's party.

Whenever the future was discussed he would always bring up this thing about having to accommodate his life to mine and me not having to do the same. So some time ago I suggested we both move to a new place together - so that we'd both be starting somewhere "new" rather than him just having to slot into my house and mine and the DCs' lives. He's got to know all my friends and family - I don't really do anything without him. In contrast although I have met his family and one or two friends, generally if he sees them he goes alone - usually because things are arranged when I can't go because of the DCs.

I really wanted us to be a family unit. The DCs wanted him to move in as well. He didn't want to move somewhere new together when I suggested it, so nothing happened. Then he decided to buy his own place, which he's just done. We had a big talk last night about why he felt the need to do this, and he trotted out the same stuff about needing something "just his" and not wanting to "sacrifice my life to yours". [Which I thought rather extreme.] Said he was passing time with me and "waiting to see what happens" because at the moment (and throughout the relationship) he feels too uncertain about our future to make a step like moving in.

That's the short version - there's loads more but it all boils down to him not really being sure about the relationship because he isn't my no.1 concern (the DCs are) and life with me is always subject to considering the DCs. I can't change this so it seems as though the sensible thing is for us to part. But I will really miss him. So will the DCs. It makes me feel so sad. All my previous relationships have ended dramatically with bad behaviour (infidelilty etc), so I've never struggled with when things are over. But this time I just keep wondering if I'm giving up too easily. And I don't know how to adjust myself mentally to not being together any more, when I have been happy with him and always hoped we would end up together. I think though that when someone tells you they're just passing time to see what happens, after 3 years together (and we are both late 30s), he's unlikely to suddenly wake up one day and think "I can't be without her!" Right? Or AIBU?

CailinDana Mon 29-Oct-12 15:11:15

This "I don't want to sacrifice my life to yours" malarkey is a MASSIVE red flag. Basically what he's saying is that he doesn't want to be in a relationship, or he wants to be in a relationship with a woman who kowtows to his needs first, even before those of her children. It is a very immature attitude and one that is likely to get worse rather than better, especially if you end up having your own child together.

Ending a relationship that seems good is extremely difficult. You need to go through a grieving process. But I definitely think you're doing the right thing.

CogitoEerilySpooky Mon 29-Oct-12 15:12:03

YANBU... When you're trying to dovetail three lives with one life, everyone has to be grown up about it, make sacrifices and accept that there has to be compromise. If he has to be someone's #1 concern he will find that practically impossible if children of any kind are in the mix. I don't think you're giving up too easily. He doesn't sound like a team player let alone a family man and the remark about 'passing time' with you is clearly the honest truth.... you've been OK until something better came along

EldritchCleavage Mon 29-Oct-12 15:25:28

I think you've just swerved a disaster, to be honest. Let him go.
Resenting your children (which is what it boils down to), needing you to drop everyone else to put him first? Very bad signs.

Alittlestranger Mon 29-Oct-12 15:52:54

The relationship is over. Your instincts are right, he was never that committed to it and is unlikely to change now. To be fair he seems to have been pretty upfront about all this. Only really fair to shout red flags if he was claiming he wanted a future and proper family with you while also buying his own place etc.

mutny Mon 29-Oct-12 16:02:13

I think its over tbh. Your kids will always come first and he will have to slot in with you and them.
At least he is being upfront, some people just move in anyway and then decide they don't want to.
If you want to stay together its never going to be serious. He will only every be a boyfriend

Aethra Mon 29-Oct-12 16:03:30

Alittlestranger, he has promised he wanted to live together etc. After the first year together, we discussed this, and at the time he was keen but wanted to wait until he had changed job and settled in there. Then he wanted to wait till we had had first holiday together with the DCs. Then he said he couldn't move in because my home is too far from his work (about an hour and 20mins door to door - same commute as I do). And why should he have to move to where i live, where he would never choose to live otherwise as it's so inconvenient? He would be leaving a place quite near to his family and coming to live 60 miles away with me, where the only thing for him would be me. That's when I suggested we move somewhere new together. Then he wanted to get his own place first, but said it was "as an investment" and once he'd got it he would move in with me. When he got it I asked when he expected to move in with me and he said he still wanted to but not until I relocated somewhere more convenient.

It's always been "I do want to, but just not yet." When I've said I didn't think he really wanted to be in this relationship, he insisted he did.

Last night he started off saying he still did see us moving in together but that I had been really unsupportive of him buying his place on his own and I should have supported him more. But I didn't want him to buy a place on his own!

CogitoEerilySpooky Mon 29-Oct-12 16:11:56

It's a case of 'actions speak louder than words'. Like you say, he's been saying the right kinds of things but back-pedalling at the last minute. He raises an objection, you deal with the objection.... there's a new objection. Everyone tests the waters. No-one should leap in with both feet. But, if he's thought about it and decided it wouldn't work for him. he should be honest with you rather than stringing you along, getting you to make changes and then accusing you of being unsupportive.

OneMoreChap Mon 29-Oct-12 16:12:09

I always told DW that DC would come first. That's what he should expect.

[DD tried to make a "choose her or me point" at one stage. That didn't turn out as she expected 6 years in.]

I might be able to see him buying his own place, so you both have capital invested - and somewhere to go if it turns out wrong... but he doesn't sound that invested in the relationship.

Sorry, OP I think your feelings are right.

Alittlestranger Mon 29-Oct-12 16:17:10

Sorry to hear that re the background OP. Changes my assessment of him but not sadly of the life expectancy of the horse.

OneMoreGo Mon 29-Oct-12 18:07:36

What a time wasting twat he is. I feel quite angry with him on your behalf, tbh. He has wasted three years of your life, pretending to be in it for the long haul but really with one foot on the floor at all times, passive-aggressively giving the impression he is willing to join forces but secretly not interested in what he claims to want at all.
It is right you should draw a line under it because he sounds so lukewarm about you and your kids, and I agree with the poster who pointed out the red flags as well. It is harder to end a relationship in this sort of situation vs when there has been overt abuse or infidelity, but nonetheless I think you are still right to end it because he is just not that bothered. His actions are speaking very loudly here - listen.

sarahseashell Mon 29-Oct-12 18:08:23

OP you're definitely right to walk away from this one - he's doing nothing for your self esteem, except damaging it. He's always known you've 2 dcs and is just BU. My guess is that if you were someone else without dcs he'd just be making excuses about other things.

If you walk away you will adjust, build up your own social life (you sound lovely btw) and I think you'll be glad to get shot of him in the longer term. Of course he may well come to his senses once he realises what he stands to lose.

Aethra Mon 29-Oct-12 21:10:37

Thank you all. I just find it all so perplexing. Nothing about my life has changed since we got together. I've always had the DCs, always been completely open about that aspect of my life. And it's not as though DP has been generally resentful of it - he gets on so well with the DCs and has done so much for them and with them. But then says things like: he hasn't wanted to move in with us because the DCs just treat him like a visitor, not as a stepfather. Well, yeah! When you live here and BE a stepfather, they'll treat you as such. While you appear only at weekends, you're Mum's boyfriend who we'd all like to see more of. But he seems to expect the reward before earning it.

I just feel really sad because even though I know in my heart of hearts that none of these individual things he says is really "the reason", he's a lovely lovely man and I really wanted us to make a life together and believed we would. It's so hard to let go of that. I feel as though it's my fault. When I said to him that all I'd wanted was for us to live together, he said "make me want to then". Which makes me feel like a horrible person.

dequoisagitil Mon 29-Oct-12 21:35:27

"make me want to then?" Ugh, what an arseholian, entitled thing to say.

It's not you that's the horrible person. He's just not that into you, he wants you to be falling over yourself and his expectations of your dc - to treat him as a stepdad before showing them any commitment, much less you - it's just bizarre & unreasonable on his part.

You will be better off without.

ImperialBlether Mon 29-Oct-12 21:47:45

I know this is a hard thing to say, but I think you're better off without him. I can understand someone not wanting to take on a ready made family but they shouldn't let themselves get involved in the first place if that's what they don't want.

I'm glad he didn't move in; your children would be a lot more upset if he did.

I think you should move on. By all means look for someone new with similar traits, personality wise, but try to avoid those who really don't have the ability to be happy with a family.

plumedematante Mon 29-Oct-12 21:54:56

This 'lovely, lovely' man says something as idiotic as 'make me want to then ?' and you STILL think he's lovely?

The mind boggles.

I'm sure he is fine, I'm sure he is nice. But he has sent you a VERY clear signal here. He has bought a house on his own, despite knowing that you wanted to live with him. He has actively chosen to do that. He has made it loud and clear what he wants.

I know it is shit and i know this hurts. It probably hurts less than it was going to though.

I think you are well rid... he seems uncertain and uncommitted.

You can - and will - do better.

Aethra Tue 30-Oct-12 08:08:23

The thing is, more or less from the start it was a serious relationship where he (not me) was pressing to meet the DCs, and as soon as he did, we started spending every weekend together (though the DCs are often at their dad's at weekends). He has always given the impression of wanting that family life. When I say he is lovely, I mean: he goes above and beyond what any other partner I've had has done in terms of thoughtfulness, doing things to help (fixing stuff round the house etc.), and encouraging the DCs with their interests and schoolwork. Being cynical I might say it's very nice for him to have family life at the weekend and then live as a single man with only himself to think of Mon-Fri. But when he is around, he's been so involved.

When we had this big talk about why he's never moved in and why he's now bought his own place he said that our relationship is all about me and my needs and the DCs' needs and what suits us and it's all take take take and he's got nothing more to give. Maybe that's true? Is it unrealistic to think that a person with no kids of their own would accommodate the existing set-up of the little family unit they have chosen to attach themself to?

CogitoEerilySpooky Tue 30-Oct-12 08:21:45

It's not unrealistic. Many people with no children would love the opportunity to be part of a ready-made family, especially if it means getting to spend a lifetime with the person they love. As I said earlier, it always requires a great deal of responsibility, compromise and sacrifice to be a parent and it's never easy parenting someone else's children. After three years, he's had plenty of opportunity to assess whether he can rise to that challenge and overcome any obstacles but it's clear that he either can't or won't.

He's choosing to put the blame at your door which I think is unfair and unhelpful. You've been consistent by the sound of it & you haven't promised things you've gone back on. Wheras he's gone through a series of impulsive 'I can make this work.... no I can't' flip-flops and been very fickle.

Ultimately, he's making a choice for his own reasons and I think you're owed some honesty

Aethra Tue 30-Oct-12 08:28:43

Thanks Cogito, very insightful post. Do you know us in RL by any chance??

I think that's it: in the argument conversation we had, he was busy telling me that I'm unsupportive, I'm always taking and never giving, my DCs only regard him as a visitor, etc., all of which just makes me feel he has been a great partner, ticked all the boxes, and I have really let us both down by being so demanding and one-way in my approach to the future. If he just said "this isn't going to work for me because I need to be the centre of attention in my own life and I never will be with you", I would find that so much easier.

I would really like us to have some sort of a friendship (after an appropriate gap) because he's been an important part of my and the DCs' lives and I don't want them to feel he just doesn't care for them any more. Is this possible or am I deluded (the only ex I've ever kept in touch with before is exH and then only because of the DCs).

CogitoEerilySpooky Tue 30-Oct-12 08:36:34

I don't think it's possible to remain friends with people post a relationship. Not immediately, at any rate. There's always the danger that you'll carry on holding a candle for the other person and you'll find it tough to move on with your life.

Aethra Thu 01-Nov-12 23:11:17

So, has anyone ever had a long-term relationship actually end after an unsatisfactory yet inconclusive (at the time) argument about future prospects? i.e. you just never talk again?

I have not heard a peep from him since Sunday night. Haven't contacted him either, but that's because since he told me in the last conversation that I was unsupportive and basically a shit girlfriend, I thought probably nothing more to say unless he changed his mind and rang me. He hasn't. In the 3 years prior to this, we have spoken on the phone every night and seen each other nearly every weekend.

Is this a common occurrence?

UltraBOF Thu 01-Nov-12 23:17:27

I think it's common not to talk if you've split up, yes. Or as part of a gameplay to make the other person cave and start begging and offering concessions.

You are best of out of this, honestly. Don't chase him.

ponybaloney Thu 01-Nov-12 23:23:31

Sounds like he is sulking and waiting for you to eat humble pie and try and make it all better.

Aethra Fri 02-Nov-12 07:57:52

Thing is, UltraBOF, I don't know if we HAVE split up or not. Although very negative things were said, I deliberately stopped short of saying "it's obviously over then" because I try to avoid making big statements in the heat of the moment. He didn't say that either - just shouted a bit about how rubbish I am and then went quiet and said "well it's late, we should both get to sleep" and that was it.

He does have form for sulking ponybaloney and last time we had a big row I caved in 2 days later and texted him and we ended up carrying on as if it hasn't happened - had a brief discussion about the argument but never resolved the underlying issues. This time I haven't contacted him because I can't see myself glossing over an issue as major as him buying a property on his own and saying I should make him want to move in with me.

How long does radio silence continue before you assume it is definitely off and not just him sulking? And are there any actual grown-up men out there who don't do this shit? I don't want to be having the same relationship issues at 40 that I had at 23!

nkf Fri 02-Nov-12 08:01:07

Yes, it's over and for the right reasons. It wasn't what he wanted and therefore it's not what you wanted. Still hurts I know.

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