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I'm crap at long term relationships...

(22 Posts)
paleviewofhills Tue 18-Nov-14 08:14:24

This will seem stupid and insignificant compared to most of the threads on her, but I need to get some thoughts down about my relationship, and I suppose I wonder who else is in the same boat? This may be a bit jumbled; I'm not quite sure what I'm trying to say!

I've been with DP for four years. We have no kids together although I have a child from a previous relationship. We have only started living together fulltime in the last year, and for one year of our relationship dp was working and living away and we saw each other every few weeks.

I believe I love him, but am finding it really, really tough at times. I was on my own (as a single parent) for several years before dp, having come out of a very dysfunctional, borderline abusive marriage with an alcoholic. I built up a life for myself, a new career, a home of my own, freedom and independence. I find myself pining for those days back again, when I didn't have to compromise or back down in the face of someone else's wants. I find it suffocating sometimes - dp is quite 'clingy' at times for want of a better word and I know I push him away sometimes because I just want...I don't know!

But he's a good man. He's kind and supportive and he loves me. Ds gets on really well with him. We do make each other laugh. We have stuff in common. He's not perfect but nor am I - I just think I have a gene missing when it comes to being able to sustain a LTR. I want to want to be with him forever, iyswim? But the thought of years and years of compromise and negotiation and having to take someone else's wants and needs into account all the bloody time just makes me feel... like giving up. He can be patronising, verbally pats me on the head, drives me insane.

There is something wrong with me, isn't there? I must be selfish to want it all on my terms - everyone else manages to compromise and live with another person and make it work, don't they?

I think I would be just as if not slightly more content on my own, but I'm scared of what that says about me. And ds would be gutted - dp has been a steady force in his life when his own father has been erratic, to say the least. I don't know what to do. I can't break up a basically good relationship with a fundamentally good man just because I feel like I'd be ok on my own, can I. It would break his heart. But I don't know if this is what I'm supposed to be doing with my life.

Sorry, this is total ramble! I feel awful even saying it. He would be horrified. Any advice out there? How do I make myself feel happy with what I've got, when what I've got is good?

BertieBotts Tue 18-Nov-14 08:29:15

Oh I can so relate! I also struggle with the normal compromise and stuff. I genuinely don't mind living in a shit tip for example yet it really stresses DH out. It's a good thing because it leads to a happy(ish) medium but sometimes I think, ugh, I wouldn't have to do this if I lived alone.

But - you say you can't break up a relationship with a good man because you'd be happier alone - yes you can! You are not some kind of prize for good effort in relationships by him. You can and should live the way that you want to.

Not everybody IS happier coupled up. Our society is geared towards that but it's not the only way. Good is subjective.

Can you quantify "clingy", things you've had to back down over, patronising/pats on head? Those are jumping out to me a bit but it's hard to say - it could be that he is railroading a bit, but it could just be that you're finding the normal compromise/accommodation of a LTR hard (which is fine - not everyone likes the same things.) Or it could be that your personalities aren't really suited - one person's clingy is another person's reassuring, some like to live in each pockets and others are more aloof.

IME you shouldn't have to work that hard to "make it work". I still think I'm shit at relationships but with DH it works because he doesn't mind telling me straight about housework/whatever and we also spend a lot of time doing our own separate thing at home rather than always doing stuff together, it works, and overall I'm much happier in the relationship than I was or would be not in it. It seems callous to put it as a loss/benefit analysis but if I did that, the benefits are definitely much higher.

LittleMissDisorganized Tue 18-Nov-14 08:46:52

Hi OP,
I've wondered the same. I met my now-DH when I was 30, nearly 3 years ago. Before that I'd had two longish relationships for 2.5 and 1.5 years. I nearly broke up with DH just over a year ago, when we were about to get married and he lashed out at me saying there was something wrong with me because I couldn't sustain a relationship beyond the 2 year mark.
I brought it all up in the counselling I was having and I am a bit further on - in that, I married him - and he puts up with my need to talk and process a lot, and we both get a lot out of being together. But I don't half crave space - mentally and physically, and I can't say dealing with his family is at all enjoyable, and he can be secretive and I just think, am I missing something, is it supposed to be like this?

I wish I felt stronger in my abilities to be on my own though. It must be hard for you with your son, if you feel the best thing for him may be different with the best thing for you. But you are his constant, and what he needs are additional constant adults, whether family or friends, in his life. These don't need to come from a couple relationship. Thinking of you, it sounds a confusing place to be at the moment.

paleviewofhills Tue 18-Nov-14 08:49:13

That's exactly it bertie, that feeling of 'ffs if I was single I wouldn't even need to have this conversation/consider this issue/do this thing'. Partly it's exacerbated I think by the fact that I don't want more kids or to get married again so there's no 'reason' to be doing this if that makes sense? Probably not!

The patronising bit - he thinks he's being funny and he knows it winds me up - this morning for example we were talking about something he wants to do just before Xmas which will be expensive and a bit inconvenient (but it's important to him and I understand why he wants to do it, so have said yes to it) and he said well done sweetie, I'm so pleased when you agree with me' or words to that effect, and it just makes me feel murderous. I just think, oh fuck off you patronising twat blush And then worry I'm a bitch who can't take a joke.

Sorry am on phone!

paleviewofhills Tue 18-Nov-14 08:53:54

littlemiss - yes, it is confusing. I am the same as you. Previous ltr lasted three and a bit years, ended it for many of the same reasons as this, felt overwhelmed. Then spent a long time regretting it and possibly as a result ended up in madly unsuitable marriage hmm.

I think I have rescuer tendencies, and once they're 'rescued' I lose interest. That's appalling. I don't want to be like this! I want to be happy with where I am and what I've got.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 18-Nov-14 08:56:34

Just because someone is a nice, steady, reliable guy (most of the time) it doesn't make them the right guy. Just because you are imperfect (and who isn't?) it doesn't mean you have to settle for something that isn't making you happy.

I take the view that we go through phases. Meet someone in a particularly challenging phase of your life and they may fit your needs at the time but it doesn't mean they will keep being a good fit ad infinitum. Let things run past their sell-by, or stay with that person on the basis of not wanting to break their heart, and the danger is that you end up so resentful that nothing they do is right any more.

You've given it a year living together. Maybe it's time to accept that it's not working?

BertieBotts Tue 18-Nov-14 09:08:18

Oh god that patronising "joke" would drive me insane too. Have you told him you don't find it funny and instead find it maddening? DH can wind me up sometimes but not to that degree - and that would remind me of previous relationships which DH is careful to avoid (once early in the relationship he as a joke pinned me against the fridge - sounds like a horrible "joke" but it's his personality, he does it to DS and DS giggles away and loves it, he'd never hurt anyone) - anyway I completely freaked out and he was horrified and now doesn't joke around in that way with me. Other ways yes but not in that particular way which upsets me.

Do you feel that you "rescued" DP?

paleviewofhills Tue 18-Nov-14 09:17:04

I do to am extent (though that may be me showing my patronising tendencies!) - when we met he was in a part time job and lodging in a room; I paid for him to retrain for his current career, he has moved in to my place, for a long time I paid for most things - although to be fair that side of things is more equal now he is in full time work. But I have always been the breadwinner/financially stable one in all my adult relationships. And it probably does breed some resentment on my part - but that's my responsibility surely?

It is really nice to get some understanding btw -I thought I'd be flamed for being a selfish cow.

BertieBotts Tue 18-Nov-14 09:19:49

I don't think it necessarily means you're patronising but it is a red flag for the relationship in general - it means that you probably don't feel particularly equal/in this together kind of thing.

MorrisZapp Tue 18-Nov-14 09:20:07

I think relationships generally are a compromise. I love my own company and in many ways, my ideal life would be a solitary one. That won't be reality for a long time as DS is four just now!

DP and I do loads of stuff separately. He's equally happy with that though. He says and does plenty of things which to me are the verbal equivalent of nails on a blackboard, but I tune it out now. La la la, happy happy happy.

I know in my heart that if DP left I'd be devastated, and also suddenly have an awful lot more work to do. I do want to live with him. But people are annoying, aren't they? Just think your thoughts and dream your dreams. Nobody is allowed in that protected special place of your interior life, that's just for you.

LadyBlaBlah Tue 18-Nov-14 09:22:38

Ha ha ha can totally relate.
Rofl @ murderous.

I have bf after hideous man and we are strictly no moving in, no marriage, no babies, no sharing of finances.

He's fine with that so we are happy.

LTR and standard expectations on hetero normative coupling makes me run for the hills. I don't get the requirement.

So if you are missing the gene, so am I.

Joysmum Tue 18-Nov-14 09:30:42

I just think I have a gene missing when it comes to being able to sustain a LTR

Nowt wrong with feeling unable to maintain a LTR with someone not right for you.

There are some really lovely blokes out there, doesn't mean every woman should would to be with them, or be with them forever.

My own parents are like this, mum left dad because although he was lovely, he wasn't the one for her. They are great friends now and dad is with the love of his life and can appreciate why mum left all those years ago. If mum hadn't left, dad would never have known true love.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 18-Nov-14 09:31:05

"but that's my responsibility surely?"

Not entirely. In any relationship, there will be things that start out as minor irritations that you're happy to overlook. Over time - and especially when you go from dating to cohabitation - some of the minor stuff becomes a lot less endearing and can end up causing serious problems. Once you're conscious of these things, it's foolish to battle on believing love conquers all or dismissing it as 'my problem'. You have to be honest with yourself and also the other person, either finding solutions or walking away

Hasle157 Tue 18-Nov-14 09:57:37

I hate the 'you're with a lovely bloke so should stick with him' perspective. Mine is an angel in the eyes of everyone and in my reality he's also lovely but messy, unorganised, difficult to talk to, scruffy and lacks a back bone. I think about my life as it was when it was just me all the time, when I didnt have to clean up after someone else or guess what they're thinking, or argue with them for not fighting my corner with his friends and family. Some of us just like being on our own... I think it's important to have as many individual hobbies as you can and as for compromise... still working out how to get round that one!

Ladyfoxglove Tue 18-Nov-14 10:16:56

I can really relate to your way of thinking. I'm the same. I tend to lose 'me' when I'm in a relationship and feel suffocated and depressed. Since using Mumsnet though I've learned a great deal about myself and relationships. 1. It's OK to end a relationship for whatever reason. You can't stay with someone just because they're a decent bloke. 2. Look honestly at yourself. Is it you? From my point of view, I suspect I may have Aspergers after several people on here (very kindly and gently) suggesting that's the reason I have difficulty sustaining a long term relationship. 3. Don't get pressured into a relationship (or stay in one) simply because that's the social model we've been sold as women. It's OK to be on your own. Just food for thought.

SelfLoathing Tue 18-Nov-14 11:07:49

to want it all on my terms - everyone else manages to compromise and live with another person and make it work, don't they?

Actually, no. There are plenty of relationships where one person is in charge/a total taker and the other person is a total giver. Both ways - sometimes the person in charge whose needs come first is a man, sometimes its a woman.

For some people this works well. Personally, I wouldn't respect someone who did my bidding 100% of the time. But it is possible to have a relationship like this if that's what you want.

TheCowThatLaughs Tue 18-Nov-14 11:18:10

I feel the same as you op, I've had 2 very long live-in relationships (totalling 16 years and I'm only late 30s!). I now have no desire whatever to compromise or give and take with anyone. As a result of that, I'm now single grin. LTR are not compulsory and you're not a bad person if you don't want one at all, or just don't want one with a particular person.

paleviewofhills Tue 18-Nov-14 13:43:35

I think you've misunderstood me a bit, self loathing - I don't want someone to do my bidding. I'm just questioning whether I'm personally able to manage the inevitable compromises that go with a long term, cohabiting relationship.

I definitely identify with the idea that a relationship means losing 'me' - that really chimes with my experience.

You have all given me so much good and interesting stuff to think about. I wonder what you all think about the idea of happiness being a choice? I sometimes think I could/should choose to be happy more often!

I feel terribly disloyal to dp though, even thinking this stuff sad.

BertieBotts Tue 18-Nov-14 17:41:56

Thinking is harmless. You can think about whatever you like and it doesn't mean a thing. It's a nice safe testing area, if you like, for all of the things you're too scared to do or say. Think away smile

MadeMan Tue 18-Nov-14 18:00:40

"But people are annoying, aren't they?"

Oh yes, I know that feeling very well. grin

MissRueful Tue 18-Nov-14 23:56:44

I am like this too in LTR. I want to want things to be OK but they never have been. I have tried a few times but I end up craving aloneness. There is very little contentedness for me. I found out recently I have aspergers so I suppose that explains it. It can be depressing to think I just cannot hack relationships. In my experience the men have moved on very quickly and I have wasted a lot of time thinking I would "break their hearts"!

BrowersBlues Wed 19-Nov-14 00:00:31

OP I could have written your post. This whole notion has been on my mind a lot recently. I am late 40's, had two 7/8 year relationships and two 2 year relationships. I pretty much, bar one, terminated those relationships. I just think I am a completely independent person. I remember when I was about 7 I honestly believed I would like to leave home and live on my own.

I would have to say that my mum wasn't exactly the happiest of parents. I feel for her now because I understand what she went through. She had 7 children through the 60's. She had worked before she married but because of the marriage bar she had to give up work. Where I was reared in that era contraceptives were illegal (aka outer fucking space). My mother is lucky that she didn't have 13 children.

Whether it was as a result of my upbringing or maybe I was just born that way but I am independent, probably to a fault.

I have been with really good supportive men but I somehow end up feeling a bit suffocated. I think as I get older I have a chance of meeting someone who I could put up with (interesting choice of words). In all honesty I like making decisions for myself.

When I am single I miss company and for a while, even years, I love companionship, intimacy and the rest, but I just find it hard to sustain.

If someone I was with had my tendancies I would be very worried that they wanted to leave me and were perhaps cheating. Honestly you can't win in this life.

I really don't know the answer but I hear you loud and clear.

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