DEAR ABBY: I have been in a relationship with a wonderful man, “Mitch,” for two years. I couldn’t ask for a better partner. We are both divorced with children, and they get along like brothers and sisters.
Even though our marriages ended, mine wasn’t an ordeal. My ex and I both knew it wasn’t working anymore, and we still get along pretty well. But Mitch and his ex-wife never got along and argued for 18 years, and herein lies the problem. He gives me no space — ever.
I have discussed it with him numerous times, and his response is, “Well, I have never been this happy, and I love spending time with you.” I enjoy our time, too, but I feel controlled without him acting controlling. He wants to be with me every minute. I look forward to going to work to escape! How can I get him to listen? — JOINED AT THE HIP
DEAR JOINED: The next time you have “the conversation,” and he tells you he has to be with you every minute because he loves spending time with you, remind him that there are two of you in this relationship. Then inform him that with no time for yourself or friends, you feel claustrophobic, which isn’t healthy for you or the relationship.
Healthy relationships are those in which both parties allow each other the space to be individuals. If you don’t draw a line and insist that he accept it, he will smother you. (c) DEAR ABBY
This is very strange. I keep looking at this part:
Mitch and his ex-wife never got along and argued for 18 years, and herein lies the problem. He gives me no space — ever.
I can’t for the life of me see a connection. So, Mitch argued with his wife for eighteen years, and now he won’t give his new girlfriend any space? Doesn’t the letter writer realize that that’s utter nonsense? Sometimes I swear that people make up fake explanations and see if they’ll take hold.
I really wish the letter writer would use her comprehension skills and realize that A has nothing to do with B. An analogy would be this: my dog ran away from home and I was devastated, so now my favorite color is green, and I love playing Chopin at the piano.
And guys do this because they can. I can’t tell you how many catfishers I’ve encountered who lie, lie, lie. Like, this one catfisher said his wife died three years ago. I asked for her name, and he made one up. I asked for a link to her obituary, and he said, “She is no more. Thinking of her just makes me sad, so I don’t.”
And he expected me to be stupid enough to buy that.
Yeah, right. Like, suppose I had a husband I loved more than life, right? Then he died, so I just decided to pretend he never existed. Think about it. It’s times like these when we must channel our inner Judge Judy.
And then, whenever the letter writer brings the issue up, she’s fed this line:
“Well, I have never been this happy, and I love spending time with you.”
There’s also some faulty logic going on there. I have people who I love spending time with. Do I want to spend every waking second with them? No. It’s nothing personal. I just like to have some balance.
I’m visualizing a guy making the above statement while giving me a shoulder hug. “Well, I have never been this happy, and I love spending time with you.” And I’m realizing that it would be really hard (due to peer pressure and his loving embrace) to counter that statement. But still. I’d find a way.
I’m surprised that the letter writer has lived this way for two years (presumably). To me it seems as if it would be impossible to maintain such a situation for so long. I can see going along with it for one week before speaking up (if that), but two whole years?! How has this happened?
It’s hard to determine whether Mitch is a domestic abuser or just clingy. I have no clue. But either way, the letter writer needs to set boundaries and enforce them. If she can’t do that, then she’s going to allow herself to be smothered, which is bad. I’m concerned that she’s going along with all of this without speaking up. If she finds it difficult to speak up, she should try doing it via email, text, or voicemail.
Hey, Mitch, I’m sorry, but I’ve got a lot to do this evening. We can get together this weekend.
I mean, how hard is that? I can’t grasp why the letter writer can’t manage it. Or maybe she has sent such messages, but Mitch always overrides them? If so, she needs to know in no uncertain terms that that’s not okay. It could be okay, maybe once, if there was a compelling reason. Like, please let me come over! I can’t quit sobbing ever since my parakeet died. You get the picture. But to just continuously override someone’s assertion is bad. Very bad.
But I’m stumped as to what advice to give the letter writer, because it seems as if she’s incapable of pushing against Mitch. She just keeps bowing down and letting him come over. Hmm… She could get some counseling or read some self-help books about boundaries and assertion. She could practice assertion in little ways, like, “Oh, I’m sorry. I ordered the raspberry ice cream. This looks like chocolate,” or whatever, to get herself started.