In which Epimetheus may be the bad guy.. (relationship advice)

The problem is I have already sat down and talked to her about this. She denies anything I suggest and gives her assurances that she does love me and wants to be with me. I suggested a couple times we end what we have and even brought up the uneveness in our relationship. She doesn’t want to end it, I have given her an easy out on several occasions, but for some reason she wants to stay with me. We have discussed marriage for the last 6 months already, and she even was with me when I purchased the ring (she helped pick it out).

I have dated several women in the past that are very self-centered (though not obnoxiously), and it seems the norm in my limited experiences (perhaps 20 out of 30 past girlfriends / flings), and she, sadly is no exception. She likes to talk about herself more than likes to hear about what I have to say (for the most part), she enjoys back rubs, but never offers them to me (and she is a physical therapist), she likes to recieve and recieve and never give. This is pretty normal to me though, and I don’t think it is concious on her part. I think society trains women to think that guys have to be the one to open doors, tell the woman how beautiful she is, buy her flowers and dinner, giver her massage, and pleasure her. Perhaps the idea of equal partnership is lost somewhere in there.

I think it is my fault though. I buy her flowers several times a month for no other reason than to brighten her day. I tell her every day that I love her, send her Text messages randomly, emails, take her out to dinner, picnics, and various other little things to show her how I feel. She returns many of them, don’t think she doesn’t. I still feel that she comes to expect it, that she is becoming calloused to it and the magic that my gestures once represented have become mundane. Perhaps the reason the jerks that never do anything romantic get to keep the girl because by rationing it out, they can at least keep the hope of magic alive.

I’ll have another discussion with her, and will likely have many more if we stay together, but I am starting to think it might be on the tail end, I just don’t want it to be. Regardless of the lack of sex, she is still my best friend as well as the woman I love. I find her unbelievably sexy, her humor is amazing, and she makes me smile even when I am having a terrible day. I don’t wish to sound sappy, but I do love her, not just as a friend (though she is my best friend), but I find her amazing and beautiful and until pretty recently I was certain she was my soulmate.

Oh good god man, run away already. Look, I know from personal experience. I walked through an entire forest of red flags to marry a woman who turned out to be a paranoid, sociopathic sympathy vampire. Open your eyes. See the warning signs.

Translation: “No, the current situation is comfortable.”

But it isn’t for YOU.

No, this is most assuredly NOT NORMAL. She’s selfish, self-centered and doesn’t give anything. She isn’t going to change. Do you want to end up married to that kind of person? Spend the rest of your life giving and giving and never being appreciated or receiving in return? Because that’s what you’re looking at and it’s not a normal, healthy relationship.

A better question is: Why do you keep finding yourself in these kind of relationships and how can you break that pattern in your life?

Your love blinds you to the obvious. She’s using you, whether she consciously knows it or not. She can ignore you, brush you off, spend her time with everyone and anyone else, and you’ll always be there to feed her attention habit whenever she wants. Again, this isn’t a healthy relationship.

I’ve been in her situation. She may not be as acutely aware of the situation as you are and may need an ultimatum to really open her eyes. I started grad school and was very stressed and never in the mood, and it wasn’t his fault, but my libido was low enough that I didn’t notice that there was a problem until he brought attention to it a couple of times and the penny dropped. Since then, when I get glum/ busy/ preoccupied and libido plummets, I have to sometimes remember consciously that I should ‘contribute’ and damn well get in the mood with decent regularity. It’s a fair thing to do-- but again this might not say anything about cheating or her not giving a damn about you or being selfish-- she may truly be oblivious or underestimate the problem (libidos CAN be unmatched), so talk about it in a very clear and overt manner. “I know you’re stressed, but I need some honey on occasion.”

With reference to your post title - I don’t think you’re being a bad guy, but I think you’re being a bit of a chump.

You’re accepting an inbalanced relationship and every time you do something for her that she won’t do for you, you’re reinforcing that imbalance. You’re treating her like a princess, but what are you getting in return?

You don’t necessarily have to break off the relationship, but you need to instigate some changes on your side. You can’t change how she behaves in the relationship, but you can change your own behaviour.

Next time she asks for a back rub, say no. When she asks why not, say ‘Because you never give me one and it’s not fair’.

Cut back on the sending flowers, and when she notices, say ‘Well, perhaps you could buy me some for a change’.

I’m not suggesting you be a complete jerk, don’t say these things in a petulant way, but just in a here-are-the-facts way. Don’t sound like you’re upset, you’re simply pointing out the imbalances.

If she gets it, she may well change her behaviours and make the relationship more even. Or she may not. But I think you owe her the opportunity to understand her behaviour and change it.

And for Bob’s sake, don’t propose. Now is not the right time, and you know it.

Well, of course. If my SO constantly gave me flowers and took me out and gave me gifts, it absolutely would become mundane after a while. Part of what makes these things special, IMO, is they happen relatively infrequently. How can she see your gestures as special if she’s had dozens like it before and anticipates dozens more in the future?

As for the larger issue, I have had big problems in relationships, both platonic and romantic, when I felt I wasn’t getting back everything I deserved. When I saw the other person wasn’t willing or able to give what I know I deserved, I stopped putting so much into the relationship and sought what I needed elsewhere. It’s sad and disappointing when it happens, but you have to learn to stop banging your head against the brick wall.

What are you willing to settle for? Are you getting less than that now? Assuming people don’t change (and for the most part, they do not), could you live in the relationship as it is for 5, 10, 20, 40 years? The answers to those questions will tell you everything you need to know.

… AND?! What happened then? The one time I had a conversation like that with my husband, years ago, the “I’m sorry honey, I do love you” part was followed immediately with a “This is how I’m going to change” part. And it happened, it wasn’t just idle talk.

I have a few suggestions:

  • Is she depressed? She may be clinging to old habits and being selfish in how she shows love out of a feeling of wanting to withdraw from her current life.
  • She may, deep down, want to end the relationship, but not enough to actually go through with it. Sometimes people get stuck in a relationship because they’ve been in it for so long that they feel better in their rut than disrupting everything for an uncertain future.
  • She may be planning to leave once she has her life more settled. You did say she just graduated. There is the possibility that once she’s got a job and some money, she may want to leave you, and her being cold is her withdrawing emotionally from the relationship. She isn’t telling you that she wants to leave now why? I don’t know, perhaps many reasons - not wanting to deal with the turmoil while she’s job hunting, not having the guts to do it yet, maybe she wants to make you be the one to do the breaking up and her emotional distance is starting that process.

Are you freakin’ kidding me? I’m reading this thing and thinking that you, my friend, are a doormat. Your expectation is that your woman will be selfish and treat you like shit and that’s exactly what you’ve got. A woman whose words say “I love you” but whose actions tell a whole different story.

She’s too immature and so are you, to get married. This relationship, in its current state will never last. Sure, go ahead and propose, if you want to lose whatever money you spent on the ring. Or maybe she’ll go through with the wedding, I’m sure it’ll be huge and she’ll be a real bridezilla and you’ll be the martyred fiance putting up with her whims. And she’ll take you to the cleaners in a few years when she cheats on you and then divorces you.

Women are not automatically “self-centered” but if your brain is programmed to seek out self-centered women that’s what you’ll always end up with. If you think she’s self-centered and you basically don’t trust her what, exactly is it you like about her?

Really, man, this relationship has some huge, fundamental problems and the biggest one is your willingness to be walked all over and your unwillingness to ask for what you want and need. Like sandra_nz said…you’re being a chump.

Ouch people! Seriously, I don’t believe for a minute that I am a doormat or a chump. I sacrifice a little nookie and don’t complain about not getting a back massage once in awhile and generalizations abound.

She does things for me, like driving 30 miles to see me twice a week when she can, she comes to Kansas City with me and hangs out with my parents and friends, but never once demanding I do the same. She even offers to buy me dinner, clothes, etc now that she has a job and isn’t in school, and for my birthday has bought me a new couch. She isn’t a steamroller, plowing me down, and I am not subservient and docile. She just has other issues, and while I agree with many of the other points above, it is kind of a leap in logic to assume I am a doormat letting her do as she wishes or not complaining about it. We have had many fights and she has asked me why I am so confrontational about it.

I’m not defending her actions, but calling me a doormat, saying I am immature and saying I am a chump and am getting “walked all over” is a bit much, outside of the pit, don’t you think?

I have been in a similar situation, at least as far as the sex issue goes.

Run. Run away now.

I think she might be staying with you just because you are nice to her and suportive and all that. She’ll leave you when she doesn’t need you anymore or finds someone else. This is my feeling, YMMV.

Even if she is in love with you, the sex will probably not improve. She is selfish, and selfish lovers stink on ice. The quality and quantity of sex is not going to get better because she has no interest in doing so.

Do NOT propose. This is a terrible idea.

Honestly, it sounds like the two of you have really shitty communication skills. If you can’t discuss the issue without it being a “fight”, and nothing ever actually changes between you, and you still put up with the inequality of the relationship - I don’t think it’s unreasonable for people to characterize you as a doormat.

All of this:

fairly reeks of desperation.

Bottom line: You feel unappreciated, your gestures overlooked.

She makes time for others, most notably a former lover, in lieu of making time for you.

Either she has to commit to change, NOW, or you should walk away. If she changes, you’ll have a better relationship. If she doesn’t … walking away will hurt, but it will save you from this type of pain and frustration on an ongoing basis.

And for goodness’ sake, don’t propose at this point.

MMmmmm — she lost my sympathy early on, with the “has cheated in the past” part. I don’t trust her, and I don’t think you do, either.

Sex isn’t actually the point - she’s not really behaving the way you want, and you can’t fight her (or flower her) into doing so.

She also doesn’t sound like much of a giver. You’re a nice guy. I think you deserve better.

Huh, I’m sure the fact that I am typing this on a message board on the big ol internet may cloud ones perception and make a person think that everybody that possibly posts here is a desperate, “pimply faced nerd” or something, but not everybody has problems relating to women, getting dates, or any other social occurrence.

Flowers a couple times a month was probably hyperbole, we have been together 15 months, and I have probably gotten her flowers that many times. Sometimes I go a month or two. I do talk on the phone with her every day, but we have been close since we started seeing each other regularly, often seeing each other 4 out of 7 days in a week. In fact, last year we both worked the same summer job together, so we saw each other every day. Hardly desperation, since she calls me just as much as I call her. If I didn’t call her, she would call me anyway. I send text messages infrequently, not everyday, as we don’t have text message plan and it costs us both 10 cents to send and receive. I tell her I love her regularly, yes, but I do, and she tells me just as often. In fact, if I don’t say I love you, she automatically assumes I am in a bad mood or something.

Franky, my question in this thread has been answered, and I have had some good perspective. Now it is nothing but people making assumptions with very little information, and labeling me as a doormat or some socially awkward kid that is desperate and can’t get a woman. Fine, think what you want, I have nothing to prove to you, and could care less what you think of me.

Could a mod please close this thread, as I did not ask people their opinion of whether I was a loser doormat that never gets a date based on a post or two on a message board. Thanks.

OK, sorry I came down so hard. Something in the tone of your posts was hitting a nerve for me. I’m going to calm down now and try and be rational.

This is one thing that was getting me. Asking someone to marry you should be one of the most exciting, joyful things you can imagine. Here you sounded (again, I’m reading between the lines) resigned to it rather than excited about it.

Communication is key in any relationship. I think you really need to talk about the things that are bugging you. Especially the trust issues.

In defense of myself and the people on this board, we gave the best advice we could based on the information given. Sorry if your feelings were hurt and, yes, I guess the name calling was a bit much outside the pit.

Good luck to your and your girlfriend.

Closed at the request of the OP.