Giants vs. Patriots

Dear Dr. Darcy:

I am a young single father. I have been involved in a relationship for close to 2 years now and have been living with this woman for almost a year. She has been unbelievable with my son. I believe she loves me and I know I adore this woman but we are struggling big time. We've never had a stable relationship. She was married when we started dating so we dealt with all the drama that came along with that for a few months. There were lies here and there so we have absolutely no trust. Every time we begin to build trust we do something to ruin it (the last few times it has been more me then her).

She hates my mom. Which is very difficult for me. My mother has been a single mom all her life… She has struggled to make something of herself on her own, no one helped her, she came here from a different country, suffered through a lot of racism and endured many things throughout her childhood. She is a very strong but blunt/loud woman who can be very overbearing. But she made it being a single parent minority woman in a man’s world. I know all of her flaws which always petrified me when it came to bringing her around a girlfriend but somehow she has managed to get along with every single girlfriend I have ever had, all of my friends, all of her clients etc. My greatest fears regarding her personality and interaction with the people I love were never realized until now. It is very difficult to deal with when they are together. I want to disappear for fear that my mom may say something wrong. She [my girlfriend] takes offense to everything my mom says...

Now, I am a very blunt loud and obnoxious person but it is always in jest. I am always joking on people and myself. Appropriate or not I say what comes to mind and then most of the time we all laugh about it. I love to laugh and to joke it's who I am and have always been. My girlfriend knew this I mean she's known me for years. We started dating and this was ok at first, now... I mean she is possibly the most sensitive person I have ever met. Which brings me back to the trust things: I have lied to her a few times to shelter her from the truth because she gets so mad but I am not a liar therefore not a good liar so I get caught. If anything about another woman comes up I am automatically sleeping with this person in her eyes. So I lie about it, which obviously compounds the problem. Aside from that I can't say anything without her flipping out. She has taken to some notion that you don't joke on the people you love especially not in front of other people. So I live my life walking on egg shells as does my mom. A sensitive person will never be able to get along with my mom. Honestly, a sensitive person will never get along with me. So we haven't been getting along… I love her so much and I truly believe there is a lot of love there but I am not sure we will ever be able to fully realize this love. What should I do???

ANSWER

God, I’ve got to remember to put a word limit on my Ask A Question form. For the record, this question was twice as long with 3 more examples of what an asshole the girlfriend is:  1) She’s a Patriot’s fan & he’s a Giant’s fan.  2) She’s from Boston, which according to the writer, is the most racist city in America and consequently, he (as a Hispanic) doesn’t feel comfortable visiting Boston.  3) She has 2 dogs which he is highly allergic to and she apparently has no regard for the health consequences that he has to suffer by being exposed to said dogs.

Brother, you are in the throes of a classic power struggle with Patriots Fan. The specifics of what you are fighting about don’t really matter.  All that matters is that neither one of you is LISTENING to the other person and consequently, neither of you feels VALIDATED or UNDERSTOOD by the other.  If you felt remotely heard and or validated by Patriot's Fan, you wouldn’t have felt the need to send me a legal brief to describe the problem.

She may be a handful, but you are not innocent, Giants Fan.  You were raised by a strong woman whose outspoken tendencies alternately scared the shit out of you and embarrassed you.  You learned from a young age that if you just phrase your unedited thoughts as a joke, it takes some of the bite off.  The problem is that this is a very passive aggressive coping mechanism because it allows you to hide in jest so that you rarely have to own your thoughts.  If someone is offended by you, they’re a sensitive asshole who doesn’t have a sense of humor.  You set Patriot's Fan up to be a douche bag, when in reality, every time you speak your mind in the form of a joke, you’re the douche bag.

Furthermore, because of your mother’s outspoken ways, you learned at a very early age to ‘shelter’ people from the truth if you feared that the truth would provoke a tantrum.  Let me be clear here (and note that there is no joke contained herein which is the appropriate way of being clear):  You are not sheltering anyone but yourself.  Shelter is your way of absconding responsibility for telling a lie.

Now that I’ve held the tiniest of mirrors up to you, let me give you some guidance:  You both need to get into couples counseling.  Not your run-of-the-mill couples counseling.  Imago couples counseling.  It’s the most effective couples counseling.  You’ll learn that no one’s wrong and no one’s right in this relationship.  And you’ll learn new communication skills (which you are in desperate need of) that you’ll either use in this relationship or in your next.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can avoid doing this difficult work if you simply break up with Patriots Fan.  Your problem is not that you picked the wrong partner.  It’s that you are the wrong partner.  And while you may be able to leave her, you’ll follow you into every future relationship and you’ll make the same old mistakes unless you learn some skills now. Email me for names of shrinks.