Q. Three years ago, I moved halfway across the country after meeting my boyfriend at a bar. We have spent about 90 percent of our free moments together ever since. We are opposites. I am professional and work a normal 9-to-5 job, and he has money from renting his house and works as a mechanic, but doesn’t have a specific schedule.
He has taught me the California lifestyle; I like some of it. He is not very complimentary, is 11 years older (I am 44), and isn’t into sex as much as I am. For three years, I’ve yearned for more. I’ve wanted more compliments and more sex and attention. What I got was arguments and a wandering eye. Then we had more and more arguments because I was depending on him to give me what I wanted — instead of giving it to myself. Why do I still love him and want to be with him after three years of rejection and verbal abuse?
A. Verbal abuse? I feel this letter started out as one thing, but became something else. When it comes to verbal abuse, there is no compromise.
It’s been Therapy Week at Love Letters (we seem to be recommending it to everyone), and I have to mention it again today. Talking to a professional would help you figure out whether you are, in fact, leaning on your boyfriend for things you should be providing for yourself. Therapy would also help you figure out what you’re trying to save.
Your letter makes it clear that you’ve been longing for something better — something more — for the entirety of this three-year relationship. There was no honeymoon period when you were getting everything you wanted. From the start, it wasn’t quite right. You can love him — and the life you hoped to have with him — but accept that it’s not going to work.
That might be what’s keeping you around, by the way. You might be in love with the relationship you imagined you’d have when you made the decision to move.
Some people feel that to go back to their original situation or home would mean admitting defeat and be humiliating. The letter writer needs some help to view it differently. JIVEDIVA
He’s 55; it’s going to get worse instead of better. How much more time do you want to waste? MMNNEE
My guess is that you’re mistaking love for dependence. It’s telling that you say you’ve spent 90 percent of your time together. You probably haven’t created a separate life for yourself so you’ve depended on him to be your everything. BKLYNMOM
You’re afraid of being on your own. Take a trip by yourself. Have fun. Then go all the way. MFORDINNER
As soon as you dropped “verbal abuse,” you turned a corner. Get the hell out and get to therapy. Clearly you don’t love him; you love who you wish he was. That’s NOT the same thing. SUPERCHICK
You’re not happy. He’s not what you want or deserve. He’s not going to change and it’s not fair to expect him to. Three years will turn into 10 in the blink of an eye. I beg you to not waste precious years on something that is not going to get better. COSMOGIRL
So apparently the “California Lifestyle” is to live celibate, and rarely speak complimentary? PODUBBNEY
Well, you tried it, it has not been great for the long term, and yes, you can go home again if you want. The door is open. California has had a sun-kissed reputation for a long time, but not now. The few people I know there grew up there and/or have a lot of wealth in the picture. Many people are moving out, however, including because of crime, demographics, very high cost of living. JIVEDIVA
If you acknowledge the mistake that started this all, you might find yourself in a better position to move on. You know you shouldn’t have chased a strange man all the way across the country and at least some small part of you knows you’re hanging on now to validate that original choice. Start forgiving yourself. MCDIMMERSON
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