Dear Dr. Darcy:
I am in love with a man my family does not think is good for me. We get along great for about 10 days and then have a blow-up. He likes to communicate daily plans ahead of time, and [because I juggle a variety of responsibilities], I cannot predict my schedule.
My ex-husband used to need to know where I was to the point [of requiring me to call] when I left, calling [when I arrived at my] destination, calling when [I’d] leave each place, and finally, calling when I arrived home.
This man is good as gold to me 99% of the time. He is very hurt by the rejection of my family, and their exclusion of him. I don't think it will ever change. During our last blow out he called me a [bitch], [whore], and finally, c--t. I know I can't allow him to call me names like that. This happened 4 days ago. I miss him terribly, and I know he's miserable too… I know he didn't mean it. What can we do with this relationship?
Not to be a stickler for accuracy, but I just did the math: If you have a blow-up every 10 days, it means you’re in conflict roughly 30% of the time – which means he is not ‘good as gold’ to you 99% of the time – at best it’s 60% of the time. Nonetheless, I don’t take issue with the amount of conflict in your relationship. I take issue with the fact that the two of you don’t know how to resolve your conflict appropriately. Basically, you need to learn how to have a fight. That’s your first problem.
Your second problem is that you never worked through your baggage from your insecure and controlling ex-husband (who, btw, sounds like my worst nightmare, though I suppose that’s irrelevant). Consequently, you’re responding to your current partner’s desire to have a predictable social life as though he’s trying to control you. I’m sure it’s rubbing up against the same nerve that the ex left raw in you. What adds to the problem is that you’re not directly telling him that you feel controlled and that you hate feeling that way. Instead, you’ve taken on a myriad of personal and professional responsibilities that make it seem as though you can’t commit to a schedule, when in reality it’s that you won’t.
When we don’t work through the wounds of our past relationships, our current or future partners invariably wind up burdened with those debts. I think you were hoping to pick a better partner and bypass that work, and as you can see it doesn’t work like that.
You need to grab your ovaries and have an open and honest conversation with this guy. Make sure you speak at a time when you’re both calm. Tell him about your history of feeling controlled by what’s-his-name and that you’re particularly sensitive to feeling that way again – even if he’s not intending to make you feel that way.
PS: He needs to learn how to fight fair and what constitutes below-the-belt behaviors. I don’t think you two are going to be able to bypass couples counseling unless you take a course that teaches you relationship skills. My course will be available at the end of next month. Email me if you’d like to go on the waitlist: Darcy@AskDrDarcy.com
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Gender and Orientation: Female, Heterosexual.