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On Ask Polly: A Chilling Cautionary Tale About the Dangers of Getting Involved With Attached People

Bad news: You picked a rum 'un.

Good news: He outed himself to you as a rum 'um after only slightly more than a year of marriage, rather than wasting decades of your life with his emotional fuckwittage, and (for instance) cheating on you when you had kids together, or when you were faced with a serious illness, or whatever.

Bad news: You picked a rum 'un.

Good news: There are people out there who aren't emotionally empty, but who are seeking a real, loving relationship. With your (hopefully) new found, hard won knowledge and understanding of yourself, you'll be in a far better place to set out having relationships with those folks.

I've been married and divorced myself. It's useful to give yourself time to grieve and heal, but please don't convince yourself that the ending of your marriage makes you some kind of comprehensive failure who will never find love again. It is possible for a marriage to fail without making you a failure for life. And out of the two of you in that marriage, at least you were giving him all you could of yourself emotionally, right?

You just need to find other, better people to do that with. There's no reason that can't happen for you in time. Unless your convince yourself that you are somehow a huge failure and shut down those possibilities. So again, don't do that. Grieve. Get support from friends who are able to support you. Learn what you need to learn from this about yourself. And then when you're ready, move on.

Posted on August 27, 2014 at 1:20 pm 3

On Ask Polly: I Want to Get Laid But I'm Afraid of Oppressing Women

LW, let's say you said to a lady (let's call her "Jane"): "Jane, I like you a lot. I'd like to take you out on a date sometime."

And Jane says: "Oh! Yes. I'd like that too."

Great! No problem. Everyone is happy. Enjoy your date!

If Jane says: "Oh. I'm flattered... But I like you as a friend. I'm not looking for more."

And then at that point, LW, if you badger her about it, if you pressure her, if you whine at her, if you lash out - then you would be being a jerk. If you have done this in the past you are right to not want to do it now.

But if you take a breath, and then say something like, "I see. Thanks for being honest with me." And then generally behave like a chilled out person, then that is FINE too. No problem. No harm, no foul.

And at least you'll have given her and you a chance to talk about the situation and clear the air.

LW, you are making a lot of noise in your head about this (ideas being deconstructed to death!) And then you are relating to those ideas as if those are somehow more important, more vital, more interesting than the actual flesh and blood person, the delightful lady who is sitting beside you, trying to get handsy with you under the blanket! What about her agency and desire? What about yours?

Try talking about your feelings with whichever lady you happen to fancy. Give you and her a chance to clear the air and see what you both want. And also get your friends to support you - people you can debrief with, and who will encourage you. When you have good friends on your side, it's much easier to manage the ups and downs of dating.

Posted on July 24, 2014 at 12:03 am 0

On Ask Polly: My Boyfriend Won't Stop Raging About My Sexual History

LW, no. No. No. No. No. No.

That is what my gut is saying when I read your letter. Just look at what this relationship is doing to your self esteem. He wants you to keep apologizing for being a real human being who (like other real human beings) has a sexual and emotional history. This isn't love. This is control.

Yes, it wasn't cool that you didn't warn him about the herpes. (I wonder why you didn't? You say you should have, so why didn't you? I would spend a bit of time pondering that - not in a self-hating/scouring kind of way. But because it's useful information. If you understand yourself, that gives you more tools to handle things differently in the future. It can also be a bit of a diagnostic. Imagine if you were with someone who you felt you could tell about this part of you? A close friend, partner, etc. How do you hope they'd respond? What would that look like? Are there enough of those sorts of people in your life? If not, why, and how do you find more of them?)

But even if you didn't warn him and now he's feeling hurt, look at what he's hurt about. It's not that you felt you couldn't tell him for some reason, and he's hurt and wants to understand why, in order to see if you can rebuild trust together. It's not even so much that you took an informed choice away from him in terms of the two of you sleeping together. It's that part of your past which he can't control - your previous sexual history - is "sketchy" and "on his dick"?! WHAT.

You don't owe this guy the opportunity to slut shame you at every opportunity now. It's one thing to be sorry for not telling him in advance (rightfully.) It's another thing to be sorry that you have a sexual history to tell him about. Do you see the difference?

As for diagnosing him as having BPD (or not)... Well, it might give you a handle on how you see the situation, and you might want to think about what brought you into this relationship and holds you there (again, not in a self-hating way, but as useful information about where you are at the moment. If you go to therapy, you might want to look at that.) But if he does have BPD, then he has to want to do a lot of work in therapy to try and overcome his wild emotional swings, splitting, etc. Does he want to do that? You don't give any sign that he does. So honestly, I don't really see how this information is going to help you in terms of the relationship becoming better. You can't single-handedly lift someone else out of a personality disorder. They have to do the heavy lifting for themselves, and often with professional help.

Consider, please, that you do both you and him no favors if you stay in this relationship in such a way that you facilitate his continued abusive behavior towards women (slut shaming! Controlling!) As long as you keep apologizing to him for being yourself, you both get to avoid reality - him that other people have independent existences to himself, and that can actually be healthy and OK. You that you aren't a horrible person who deserves to be punished and regarded with suspicion at every turn.

Honestly, I'd say get out. Get out and also get help from friends, because if he is suspicious and controlling now, he may make it hard to leave.

Posted on June 12, 2014 at 7:26 am 4

On Ask Polly: I Was Dumped After a Freak Accident and I Can't Move On

@Regina Small Oh and I just thought about something else you highlighted: if that is how he views "childish", or being a child, if that is how he see the adult-child relationship playing out, imagine what kind of a godawful parent he would be! Good grief. The kind of parent who needs to feel they have power over their child, who needs to feel in control. Who can't stand ever being shown up by their child (rather than the kind of parent who is proud their kid learns something they didn't, or couldn't.) The kind of parent who will punish a child's independence and capability, by tearing down their child's self esteem in the most painful way. The kind of parent who can't stand their child being a separate person, who resents their child for having needs, being vulnerable. Someone who can't put their child first, when that is what children need a good amount of the time.

My God, LW, you really have dodged a bullet. Imagine if you had kids with him, and then your kid ended up in hospital after an accident, and HE BAILED ON THEM LIKE HE BAILED ON YOU.

Let's hope he and current girlfriend don't ever have children, because those poor kids. My god. It's horrifying to imagine.

Posted on May 7, 2014 at 7:49 pm 2

On Ask Polly: I Was Dumped After a Freak Accident and I Can't Move On

@Regina Small Yes. Yes. Yes. I think you nailed it with this comment.

And also, all the nice things she describes him doing for her - or more like WITH her - in the letter? Camping? Eating the take out she bought for them? Going on hikes? Those are things that sound like they would be FUN for him anyway, so no real effort to do them. Like, it's no effort for me to eat free take out with someone who adores me, you know? The times LW really needs him to show up and make an effort for her, his fragile ego can't handle it, or he's panicked because she needs him to be a adult with an ounce of empathy and some ability to care for another fucking human being when the going gets tough. And of course he can't do that. He knows on some level he is deficient in the human being department. That is a horrible, damning thing to know about oneself. So he lashes out and hurts her the worst possible way he can, because then he can protect himself from that self knowledge by feeling powerfully self-righteous (all that stuff about LW being "childish" for having actual human needs, like an actual fucking human being - of course he can't stand that. He can't do it and he can't tolerate it in others.)

LW, him cutting and running when you're in your 30s and after 11 years is a terrible, painful blow. But imagine how it would be after another 30 years, when you're in your 60s? What if you got diagnosed with some chronic illness then, and he pulled his bullshit at that point? As terrible as this time feels, I think you dodged a bullet with him bailing on you so comprehensively. He's given you as clear a sign as he possibly can that HE'S NOT UP FOR IT. I don't just mean up for a relationship with you in particular. I mean with human beings in general. With himself, certainly, as an imperfect, vulnerable human being. In a way, I don't think you should take his actions personally. This is how he rolls. He would have done the same with anyone else (and is probably doing it with that poor new girlfriend.)

LW, I think he was right about one thing: there are guys out there somewhere who are much better for you. I don't know if it's the guy who lives 2 doors away, but I think that's the part you can believe from your ex - you can do a lot better than him. Better men exist. Better human beings exist. You have a lot of love and commitment to offer someone. Start by offering it to yourself first. Don't waste time trying to confront him - you won't get what you want from him, because he doesn't get human-being stuff. Look at his track record of giving you what you want when it requires him to practice self-reflection, or caring for others when it's difficult. Not great, right?

He's not the one who can care for you. But you yearn for care. That's how you understand how to care for others. You give them the generosity you yearn to receive (artists mooching on you in your studio, etc.) Offer yourself all the commitment and care you wanted to get from him. Offer yourself even a fraction of the care you gave him. Accept caring from friends and others who love you. When you get good at practising all that, you will probably start noticing that there are guys out there who are actively seeking an equal, caring relationship with other human beings, including you.

Posted on May 7, 2014 at 7:27 pm 4