I wish this could be short but I will try to be clear about the
issues that have emerged between my partner and me.
My partner and I have been in a committed relationship for the past
8 years. Although we now are more estranged than together, both of
us agree we have had a wonderful and beautiful relationship. We
have had reasonable challenges along the way, with the exception of
two (unfortunate) events.
I guess I will begin at the beginning. I met my partner in 1999
while still in graduate school. My partner was already a professor
at a local university and we seemed to connect very well together.
Having been in a physical and verbally abusive relationship 3 years
prior, I was careful not to jump into anything. We had long
discussions about long term relationships and how we saw ourselves
as a couple. We both recognized we were co-dependent from the
At the time, I had been in recovery for 3 years but my partner
had not. I saw no problem (oops).
No Ooops here Sweetie. I read ahead... What's going on here has
little to do with her and plenty to do with you! (As usual.) We also agreed that honesty
(coupled with emotional fidelity) was the most important component
of a relationship above monogamy and decided to take the later issue
as we went along. Did you really,
honest-with-yourSelf agree that physical infidelity was OK? Or
did you enter into that agreement because you wanted her? Both of us are people pleasures and now I realize
how detrimental this has been for us. Anyway, we had very little
conflict in the first 3 years of our relationship.
Our 3rd year was very hectic because I was working on
my dissertation, a fulltime employee/advocate at our local domestic
violence shelter and admittedly unrelentingly needy
THAT is your problem - the neediness... My partner was
my main source of support and validation throughout the process.
Big mistake on my part (recognize this now). As a result of this,
my partner reached out to her ex-lover and spent Memorial Day
weekend with her in 2003. STOP! She did
not reach out to her ex because you are needy. She reached out to
her ex because she reached out to her ex! It's codependent thinking
to think that your neediness is why she did this. (Yes, I agree, you two
are very codependent.)
Apart from a little concern, I felt my partner was being honest
with me about her reasons for her planned visit (she said that it was
purely platonic). Ummmm... That is like
a woman saying it is OK for her husband to spend a weekend with his
ex-girlfriend. And, furthermore, why would s/he want
to do this? Being in a same-sex relationship does not change the
basic values we were brought up with in our serially monogamous
society. You were concerned and rightly so. Most men or women, gay
or straight, would not permit this. Most of us would not enter into
an agreement that physical infidelity is OK! And frankly,
reading between the lines of your letter, I don't believe that you
were OK with this aspect of the agreement. I think your codependent
denial and wishful thinking that things would be smooth got in your
After my partner returned from the visit, she
fell apart and told me she had slept with her ex and that she had
lied to me over the phone during her stay. At first I was calm and
we discussed her need for a secondary partner. I told her I
understood and assured her we could work it out but didn’t tell her
how very devastating her lies were to my since of security in our
relationship. Of course you were
devastated! Not only did she lie, breaking your mutual vow, she
betrayed you because she had to have her ex. Then she felt guilty.
So rather than being mature about it, resolving NEVER EVER to do
this again (since it results in guilt and hurt feelings) and simply
keep this incident to herself to not upset you, she instead dumped
her guilt and told you. Your partner is an immature lady with little
self control who runs her life on the pleasure principle. This is OK
Your codependent participation
here is that you didn't express your outrage and refuse to live in a
relationship where vows can be broken. I can't help but think how
little you think of yourself... Why? You are such a kind and
unassuming Human Being with such a giving soul. How sad that you
don't recognize your worth and treasure all your wonderful
Finally, were you willing to put
up with a secondary partner?
Really? *clears throat* I guess that's fine depending on what
culture you live in, but how can you say you are really OK with this
when your thoughts and feelings indicate otherwise? To me, this rings
of the codependent "sacrifice all for the warm body" routine... Also I didn’t tell her that I felt like she had
sabotaged my dissertation defense. Maybe you
already know this, but she couldn't sabotage your defense... Only
you can do that... Once again, very codependent
Immediately after this, she decided she needed to live alone but
wanted us to still be together. How did you
feel about this? It couldn't have been good... She took a job
in another state (and so did I) and we moved to separate homes.
She did say a few things during this period that would be borderline
abusive. The abusive is what you
yourself for not hearing your inner self and putting up with her distancing behavior. Was your
wishful thinking - that she would get past this eventually - what
your way? For example, I had been frantically trying to find
a job while completing my dissertation but to no avail. I remember
her telling me that she was going to be very disappointed in me if I
didn’t have a job before we left - which is actually what led me to
take a temporary position I ended up with. Anyway, we moved to
separate parts of the state and saw each other on weekends for about
8 months. Our relationship actually improved with us living apart,
and she ended the relationship with the other person. *groan*
Although I was actively working on my codependency issues and
trying to respect her need for lots of alone time and less talking,
I now see that I wasn’t completely aware of how dependent I was on
her. Yes. But I think a more direct
route to emotional health is to work on putting yourSelf first. To
pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you. To focus on
behaving in ways that will result in increased Self respect (with
little concern over meeting dependency needs. Everything flows from there. After
8 months, we moved back in together and actually bought a home in
the summer of 2005. Between 2003 and 2005, I did nothing to change
my behavior other than what I had done during our 2003 separation.
Over time, she started picking apart everything I did or did not do
around the house or in any other area in which we interacted (should
have seen it as a sign but didn’t). Wishful
thinking in the way again... Over-riding Self respect... She
would get irritated because I was not getting dressed fast enough or
that I had washed a load of clothes (her domain). During this time,
she was also diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and I thought that some
(but not all) of our interactions were affected by it.
Meanwhile, I grew more and more dependent upon her to meet my
every need. Having lost trust in her after the affair, I also began
to ask way too many questions concerning what she did and with
whom. I will forever regret this. Please
instead regret having compromised your Self esteem. You sold out
your Self to your dependency stuff. I have so much guilt
about this. You need to understand that the
only person you did anything to was yourSelf!
I was also very unhappy due to the lack of full-time university
positions available in the area and eventually worked for 2
different community colleges. The job of my dreams just happened to
be at the university where my partner worked. I had applied for a
position there at least 4 times until I actually was offered a
tenure track position beginning this August.
Congratulations!!! Of course I thought my partner would be
very happy for me concerning my new position. I was wrong. My
partner only recently expressed any unhappiness or resentment.
Why do you keep calling her your "partner?" A
partner is any ally; an individual with equal power who
collaborates to a common aim. Doesn't seem to me your "friend"
gave one hoot about your welfare if your welfare got in the way of
As of February, my life has been a steady sequence of nightmare
events that have left me feeling nothing less than eviscerated.
I'm so sorry... After hearing of my new
position, my partner turned into someone I don’ know. She told me
that she didn’t want me coming on campus and invading her space.
Too bad. Don't you dare give up your dream
job! That while she was at work, I was not too spend much
time with her. on another note, think about it: why in the
world would you want to spend any time with someone who treats you
like a toy? Immediately after my I accepted my new
position, my partner went to a conference out of town. While out of
town, she sent me an email telling me of her feelings for another
person with whom she worked. No surprise here.
As I say over and over on these pages, past behavior is the best
predictor of future behavior.
(For the past year and even up until the day she left she
assured me that she was absolutely sure they were just friends).
She also notified me of her intentions to pursue a relationship with
her but assured me that she wanted to continue our long-term
commitment. Sure... This
makes sense. She is as dependent as you
are and won't give you up unless she knows the other one is a
certainty. You are in effect her security blanket. Not OK.
Our relationship has gone down hill since then. Your
relationship went downhill on Memorial Day weekend of 2003. I
have expressed my desire for her to not pursue this person (would
not stop) and she even admitted she didn’t respect me anymore.
Along with this behavior, she started criticizing my hair, the
cologne (which was her favorite for 8 years) and sometimes my all
around appearance. This is OK with you? Can
you hear that part of you that not only screams in pain, but also
feels anger? Can you hear that tiny little voice that is telling you
that you don't need this? It's there. Promise! You have to listen
very hard to hear it over the roar of your longing, sense of
misguided loyalty, and wishing that she will be loving as she
I have never thought of myself as verbally abusive until now. You're
not. Over the past 3 weeks, our arguments got
more and more heated up until the point I expressed the need to
leave. Yay! After that, she would convince me of how irrational I was
being and I would decide to stay. Last week the fights started and
I asked her to stop seeing the person again. Again, she said no.
That it was not about the person so much as the fact she saw giving
up the relationship as giving up her freedom. Wonderful
convoluted reasoning. In committed relationships, we voluntarily
give up our freedom. Because we want to.
I then realized how
horrible and controlling I must have been. Huh?
Later on we got into another argument and I got angry and
starting throwing my pictures in the trash can, loading clothes in
my vehicle and telling her that I hated her and that she was never a
friend to me. I also slammed doors, even the refrigerator
door. Sounds normal to me. What did you think you should do? Be happy she would not
give up the other? Being abusive is not about losing it in
frustration. You just blew a fuse because you simply refuse to
listen to your internal self, which is realistically and validly
very unhappy with your partner.
After I realized I had nowhere
to go, I was then begging (not the first time) to come back and for
her to take me back. Temporarily, I
hope; until you find a place to live. That you have no place to go
does not negate the very real hurt and outrage you allowed yourself
to experience earlier. Why are you now "trying" to go back into denial?
She said she still loved me and I could live
here but she did not want to be my partner until she could trust
that I would not do this again. This is
nuts! You finally had a normal - repeat: normal - reaction to her
stuff... But instead of trusting your body and getting the heck out
of that destructive, codependent relationship, you now have to
somehow convince her to trust that you will recede permanently into
your codependent shell of denial. Huh? What is wrong with this picture?
Since then, I have started going
out more, attending support group meetings and honestly taking a
look at myself. We have also started communicating more and she
wants to work on our relationship. Oh
yes, and it is not her that needs to trust in you - as much as you
need to trust in her ability to remain faithful to you! (Unless, of
course, you've gone from codependency to cosmic consciousness
overnight, which I seriously doubt.)
However, her behavior was out of
character last night when she got absolutely sick at her stomach
when I was not here when she got home. She had told me she was
meeting this other person to discuss a crisis but promised to be
home by When she
didn’t arrive at ,
I decided to go across the street for a quick walk in the park ( I
did not leave a not thinking she was going to out late again). She
was still angry at me when she left for work this morning. This
situation confuses me the most. I guess
she's gotten used to having her little sidekick around. Hey, we all
need doormat, don't we? How dare you go out and be your own person
- instead of sit home worrying and waiting as proof of your unending
love and devotion! Tip: She may not have liked this, but this
small step in the direction of your own Self / Personal Power
may have upset her, angered her, threatened her - but it also
increased her respect for you just a little bit. And this is
something you need far more of!
Additionally, I have asked her to think about whether the decision
to see the other person was sabotage due to long held resentments
and she absolutely denies it. I have now accepted the fact that I
cannot change her. Good! You can't. But
you can change you!
My main concern is whether or not I am abusive.
No! If anyone is abusive, she is. She is the
one with the power here. She is the one who has the affair yet you
are the one who ends up looking bad because you appropriate react to
I am deeply sickened by my behavior and am doing everything I can to
make amends. Please help? Sabrina
Most people in our culture do not
accept physical infidelity. Those who truly can would have to be
highly emotionally evolved, highly advanced, Buddha-like or Christ-like in their
attachment to that which is worldly.
On the other hand, individuals like yourself
accept infidelity out of pure denial. Denial of feelings. Denial of Self.
Your need to meet your dependency urges has led you to sell out your
soul, despite your body's healthy protest.
In your denial of Self, you've now nearly
succeeded in convincing yourself that you are abusive because you've
thrown a hissy fit trying to get her to change. Don't you see? The hissy
fit is normal. You simply do not accept the conditions of the
relationship - your body and soul is screaming! And you won't hear it.
Instead you will twist reality to blame yourself so you can remain
embedded in a relationship which is abusive - where you are the victim.
No, she's not violent. No, she's not yelling. There is some criticism.
But the worst part is that she insists on partial commitment, and even
though you hate it, you don't make the moves you need to get out. You
are victimizing yourSelf by settling for crumbs.
You can go a couple of ways, or of
course, somewhere in-between, wherever that is. Better yet, pursue both:
Learn to radically accept that she is
who she is, and truly be OK with it - so you stop creating agony for
yourself, stop fighting yourself internally , stop having to deny the
reality and pain of your feelings because you "can't stand" it.
Get out. Learn to overcome your
neediness. Do not permit your emotional dependency to over-ride your
Self. You are the only thing you've got; you are the only person you
have any control over. You are worth it.
How cool would it be to be able to do
both! Wow! That would be freedom!
To start, please get a therapist.
Please post in The CatBox.
You've succeeded in confusing your Self so
well that you think you are abusive!
Learn too about "radical acceptance" a
concept popularized by Marsha Linehan in her excellent Dialectic
Behavior Therapy (DBT) approach to treating Borderline Personality
Disorder. However, you don't have to be borderline to benefit from the
concept. I recently found a web page I really like and that I've begun
using with my clients to help them understand the concept. Look here:
So, think about all this. Think about
radically accepting that she is who she is. Think about whether or
not who she is is really OK with you. Think about what I said
regarding your denying reality because you don't want to deny your
dependency needs - and think about what that does to your self esteem.
Seriously think about getting a therapist. And post all you want. I'll
be back in about a week to reply to you.
Readers, any comments for Sabrina? I
know many of you can identify with this distortion of reality for the
sake of the warm body...