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October 5, 2015

Ask Me Anything: Should Mom Settle For So-So Relationship? {Weekly Advice Column}

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*Editor’s Note: Elephant Journal articles represent the personal opinion, view or experience of the authors, and can not reflect Elephant Journal as a whole. Disagree with an Op-Ed or opinion? We’re happy to share your experience here. 

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Dear Elephants,

Welcome to this week’s Ask Me Anything, where no question is out of bounds! To submit questions for next week, please email me at [email protected]I look forward to hearing from you! ~ Erica

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Dear Erica,

I need your help figuring out my relationship.

To start with I had never planned on this being long-term. “Chris” was actually in an “open” relationship when he first asked me out. According to him it was open due to his girlfriend forcing the issue. I was the first person he had dated within this “open” relationship.

I started dating “Chris” with the idea that I was graduating college and leaving town in five months and this could be a fun life experience before I took off. Well two months later I was pregnant and scared.

“Chris’s” other girlfriend had broken up with him (before we knew about the pregnancy), and he was working on moving out of her house. We talked and I told him I didn’t want our relationship to be open. He agreed. It wasn’t really his thing either. So we decided to make a go of it.

“Chris” has an older daughter and he didn’t want to move straight out of her mom’s house into my house, so he moved into his brother’s house for about five months before he moved in with me. I felt very alone for most of that summer.

I kept asking “Chris” if he was sure he wanted to do this whole parenting/family thing with me and he kept saying “yes,” but he felt very distant. Something wasn’t right. (This was the period that he was cheating.) At the end of that five months I was getting pretty anxious. He didn’t really finish moving in until the same week our daughter was born.

“Chris” has been a good partner in most ways (other than the affair). However, he has been very lacking in financial responsibility which has created a great deal of stress for me.

The first few years we were together he didn’t work, but was drawing unemployment and going to school for part of the time so I could overlook it. He never seemed compelled to pony up money for bills or rent unless I asked, and I didn’t like to ask.

Eventually he graduated with a professional license that he never did use.  The unemployment benefits ran out.  It took him a year to find a job at Walmart, but once he had it he did work and worked hard.

Then his father passed and left him a sum of money. As soon as he knew he was going to have extra money he walked away from the job at Walmart. And then over the course of five months he blew more money than I make in two years.

To be fair, he did pay all the bills during those months, but it is hard for me to wrap my head around that level of irresponsibility. We’re not kids, we have kids, dammit.

What I really need to know is at what point is it okay to cut my losses and get out?

The relationship isn’t bad all the time, it’s just never really good either.

I grew up in a two parent household and I have a lot of fear about damaging my children. Is my happiness more or less important than their stability?

Would it be better to get out now while they are young and will never remember us together? Am I a terrible person for being unable to forgive and move past his infidelity?

~ Cut My Losses?

Dear Cut My Losses,

If you are looking for my permission to “cut your losses and get out,” you’ve got it. You deserve (much) more than a relationship that isn’t bad, but is “never really good.”

In situations like these I encourage people to imagine their own child coming to them  with the same problem. What would you say to him or her? Is this the life you would want for them? If not, then it’s not good enough for you either.

Your boyfriend is not only not bringing a lot to the table, he’s barely even sitting in the room. It’s hard to forgive someone for cheating when they continue not to be fully invested in the relationship.

Your gut feeling is right, it’s time to move on. Don’t be surprised if your boyfriend suddenly kicks it into gear when he realizes he’s about to lose you, and don’t let his temporary charm slow you down.

As far as the kids go, they deserve a mother who is brave and values herself rather than one who subsists in a barely functioning partnership.
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Self portrait XXXVII_MMVIII, D. Sinclair Terrasidius, Flickr

Dear Erica,

I would really appreciate any sort of advice as I feel like I’m getting really overwhelmed by this issue I have with my boyfriend.

We make each other happy mostly and really do love one another. We have been dating for two years. However, the other day I typed ‘Facebook’ on his Google on his computer and saw that one of his recent searches or links was some girls name.

He was in the room with me and I asked him about it. He tried to avoid the conversation so I simply told him to search the girls name in his history. There, in clear evidence, he had been looking at her profile for three months quite frequently.

He is not friends with her and did not try to contact her. He told me he was just looking at her profile because he found her in a Facebook group for a computer game that they both play. He said that he was just curious because she is the first “pretty girl” that he has found that plays this computer game and he just wanted to know if she actually played the game well. He also apologized.

However I asked him how it would make him feel for me to stalk another guys profile for three months, and he said he wouldn’t mind and would tease me that I have a  “harmless crush.”

It all sounds like excuses to me, but I accepted the apology. Months later, however, I still think about it and it makes me feel like I’m not good enough.

I really do love him and I know he wouldn’t ever cheat on me, so I would like to move on, but I just get worried that he is out there looking at everything “on the menu,” and it makes me scared and worried.

I don’t know what to do anymore and I think I bring it up a lot to him and he is starting to get annoyed, but he still tries to be understanding. I just can’t carry on attacking him about the same issue but I don’t know what else to do.

Please help.

~ Confused

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Dear Confused,

In cases like this, you have a decision to make: either you believe him and everything is ok—in which case you never bring it up again—or you don’t believe him and everything is not okay—in which case it needs to get resolved.

Ask yourself, if you decide you do believe him, can you truly let it go? If not (and it sounds like not), don’t pretend you can. You’ll just gripe and harp on him until he can’t take it anymore and either leaves or cheats on you for real.

If you can’t believe him, you need to be honest with him about it. You say (calmly), I’m sorry, but I still feel weird and bad about you searching that girl. Can you help me get past it?

If his response is angry and defensive, you’ve got a problem. Either he doesn’t care how you feel or he is guilty of something more than he is admitting.

If his response is reasonable (annoyed but willing to talk and worried that this is hurting you), make your best effort to let go of you feelings of insecurity. Unless he gives you another reason not to trust him, you should chalk this up to a “harmless crush”.

~

Relephant read:

Relationships Don’t Stop Working; We Do.

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Author: Erica Leibrandt

Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

Images: Susanne Nilson/FlickrD. Sinclair Terrasidius/Flickr

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