Volcano asks: Hello. Well I’m having relationship issues and don’t know what to do. First, my boyfriend and I have been together for almost five years. I am ten years older than him. That’s my first issue. I’m always afraid that he will leave me for someone younger so obviously I have trust issues. Especially because of my past relationships. I always question his intentions when he’s being real nice to his female coworkers and so I am very jealous. The most recent time was when I was going to his work for lunch. He asked his female coworker if she wanted anything. She said no. So we ate and after I left he tells me that he was going to go get her food because she was eating some frozen meal and offered once again to go get her something. At this time when he told me that I got furious. I just asked him why is he so considerate for her and he just got mad and said he did it because he did. And then he started telling me how tired he was of me and that it was over. I just kept telling him how could you tell me you love me like two hours ago and kiss me and now it’s over. Just like that. It’s been two weeks since that incident and we’re still living together but he says he just wants to be alone. We haven’t had intimacy and he says he doesn’t want to. I love him and don’t want to lose him but he has been just a different person. So I asked him if everything he’s said is a lie. For Valentine’s Day he sent me thru text something he made for me and said he loved me to till his last breath. So my question is: Can someone just snap and stop loving a person he’s said he loves so much, to not loving them at all? He even said that he thinks that he used to tell me he loved me out of habit and didn’t think he meant it. What can I do to save this relationship? Is it salvageable?
Hi Volcano –
Wow! Okay, I’m seeing two issues here, and I’ll take each on separately. Then it’ll be kinda up to you, how you put the two together.
First – the jealousy thing. I get jealous. Handsome will see some really cute dog and pet it and play with it, and I’ll feel the need to go over and give it a little bit of a whupping. Not to hurt it, but just to let it know that I’m the Queen here, and that it had better remember that. After all, I like that Handsome loves dogs – he always smells so much more interesting after he plays with them!
But that doesn’t mean that I have the kinds of suspicion that you humans have. After all, if I smell another dog on Handsome’s hands or clothes, there’s nothing for me to worry about; I just know that he’s been petting another dog. But for you, and other humans, it’s all about suspicion: you see your boyfriend get a woman something to eat, and you instantly suspect everything from him preferring her to you, to him actually cheating on you, to him leaving you!
And while this is a completely natural act of your superior, imaginative brains, the advice from this simple, small-brained dog is: Stop It!
Look at it this way. Is this guy smart at all? If so, if he wanted to cheat on you, couldn’t he do so in a way that you didn’t find out, or that at least wasn’t so obvious? People do it all the time. We even hear stories of humans forging whole new identities and carrying on multiple lives at once. So if you’re with a man who you don’t trust at all, then leave. That just sounds like a miserable life. And likewise, if you’re with a man who you do trust, is his being nice to a co-worker really a reason for all that trust to suddenly go down the toilet?!
A few years back, Handsome was dating a woman I just adored. She was a huge dog-lover, and she and her daughter both thought I was the best thing around. She was funny and fun and he loved them both and, well, all four of us really hoped this was something that might just go all the way to forming a family. But one thing kept going wrong. Just like you, she had a jealous fear. And just like you, it centered on a co-worker of his. (Unlike your situation, this was even worse because he had dated that co-worker in the past! But also unlike you, this meant that he knew very well just what that co-worker’s faults were, and why he preferred being with the newer, nicer girlfriend!). At first it wasn’t so bad, and he was even a bit complimented by her jealous concerns. But then it started to become a daily problem. Every phone call, no matter what was going on, she would get upset because he was working near that woman. Once, his ex needed a lift home from work, and no one else could drive her, so he drove her to her house. Nothing was wrong, but oh my, how my ears rang from all the yelling I could hear coming over the phone afterwards!
And you know the funny thing about it? There was an easy way he could have avoided all that yelling. He could have lied. He could have either just not mentioned driving his ex home, or he could have even said she wasn’t at work that day. His girlfriend never would have known.
But see, if he had lied, he wouldn’t have liked himself. He didn’t want a relationship based on lies. He wanted his girlfriend to know how honest he was, and for her to trust him. So he was open about it.
Well, you can probably guess what happened. Eventually, it all got so bad that he had to break the romance off. It was devastating to all four of us. And it wasn’t him who’d ruined the relationship, or his ex, or the daughter, or me… or even his girlfriend. It was her suspicion! It screamed in her ear day and night, and never gave the relationship a chance. And she gave in to it every time. And eventually, it broke everyone’s hearts.
So truly, Volcano, when your boyfriend acts in a way that makes you suspicious, ask yourself what you truly believe. If his being nice to someone makes you think he’s actually cheating on you, then you probably shouldn’t be in that relationship.
Though I’ll add something that might sound like it disagrees with what I’ve just said: If, on the other hand, you don’t think he’s cheating, but you just feel he’s publicly disrespecting you by the way he treats her, then that is completely fine to bring up! Tell him! Tell him why it bothers you, and ask him to change his behavior. But that’s very different from accusing him of something you don’t know. No, that’s closer to my beating up those dogs that Handsome pets! You might be called mean, but you’ll only be dealing with reality, not your imagination.
Okay, now onto this other issue: your boyfriend’s changing statements.
I don’t know exactly what’s going on, but if you’re with a guy who’s saying he loves you to the last breath one minute, and a couple of hours later is saying he wants to break up, that would drive anyone in the world completely crazy.
Have you ever heard of the tests that Dr. Ivan Pavlov did on dogs? They’re very famous – he’d have a bell ring just before the dog would get a treat, and eventually he’d find that when the bell rang, their salivary glands would start moistening, even though there was no food there. Now those tests were interesting and cute, but there were some other tests where he’d give dogs such mixed signals that they didn’t know how to get what they wanted, and they were driven mad. That sounds like what you’re getting from this guy.
So I think you need to sit down with him and lay out some rules for your relationship. One of them, again, is that you need to cut out the accusations of cheating, unless you really believe them. But another is that he has to stop threatening to break up, unless he really means it and wants to.
I know a couple that’s just this like him. They’re married. And when they’re getting along, they’re more cutesy than Handsome and I at our most lovey-dovey – all googly-eyed and sweet-comments and loving texts and such. But then they’ll have an argument, and immediately out comes “I want a divorce!” Well, what do you think happens?! Of course, the other person is immediately afraid, and acting in anger and terror, and everything goes from bad to way way worse.
What if, instead, the comment was “Wow you’re making me angry right now!” Or even “I need to be alone for a few hours,” or “I want to go out with a friend tonight, because I can’t even talk to you when I’m this upset!” Those aren’t ideal, but they’re WAY better than the threat!
So as I said at the start of this, these two issues are separate and different. You need to decide whether you really trust this guy or not, and if you do, you need to stop accusing him of whatever your imagination comes up with. And he needs to decide whether he wants to be in this relationship or not, and if so, he needs to stop making threats that frighten you.
If you both decide to stay in this romance, and you make these two changes, you’ll still have problems, of course. There will be arguments and fears and lots of concerns. But at least you two won’t be making things worse for ridiculous, unnecessary reasons. And, with those gone, you’ll be able to start to work on building a strong, trusting, beautiful relationship – the sort you both deserve.
All my best,