Mnementh's troubles. (advice? encouragement? (Somewhat long.))

Note: The following is (mostly) not lighthearted.

I’m a pretty good guy. People call me sweet and whatnot. But I’ve got problems. I dont know why, where they came from, or why they persist, but they’re there.

In and of themselves, these are not big problems. They’re little, nagging inconsistancies that I have, little deals, nothing to worry about. They sometimes annoy the people around me, but everyone has little annoyances about them.

However, they become a much bigger deal when they affect my relationship. The SO (who I’m referring to as Ramoth from now on, understandable to anyone who’s read the Pern books) is quite disturbed when they crop up, and for very good reason. For, as small as the problems themselves may be, they can combine and create quite monsterous disturbances.

So here I am. As I’ve noted before, it often helps me to talk about the things that trouble me. It helps me straighten them out in my head, something I sometimes have trouble with. The advantage of doing it here is that I can also receive some of the most positive, intelligent feedback in the world. You guys are great, so I hope to draw on the vast pool of knowledge and experience here.

My problems, the ones I’m referring to here, are mainly threefold.

  1. My head is incredibly disorganised. I cannot remember details, I can’t put the pieces of the puzzle together, I often don’t realize things even when they’re biting me in the ass.

  2. I live my life day to day, moment to moment even. I don’t plan things. All in all not so bad, but with an SO who likes to know where she’s going when, my reluctance to plan anything becomes a problem. This also means that most of the time I sit around until I think of something to do, which means that Ramoth is the one initiating outings about 98% of the time. This gets to her, and I can see why.

  3. (and this is the major one): I’m very bad at giving straight answers. When I mean ‘yes’, I’ll say ‘Maybe later’. Or something similar. It works fine in my head, but to the people listening it’s very cryptic and they don’t get my implied ‘yes’. This, obviously, can be quite the problem. Most people simply call me on it, and they can get a straight answer sooner or later. It’s different in a relationship. She dosn’t quite understand the difficulty I have here, and it ends up causing many, MANY misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

In short, I have my dumbass moments.

These are my troubles. The first is somewhat minor, the second cause’s problems from time to time. The third is the biggie.

I already feel like I understand this thing better having typed it out.

Now, with a better understanding, I need to SOLVE said problems. The second and third are what I really need to work on. I’ll be keeping my mind on it, trying to catch myself when I do things like this, and I’m going to get my friends in on it too, to give me a blast when I do it. I’ll be checking back here, too, seeing what you all have to say, and that’ll help me remind myself of it too.

Hopefully I can improve because of this, and render the problems moot. Not only improving my relationship with Ramoth, but really, making myself a lot less annoying sometimes. That’s the goal, baby.

So hey, encourage me! Tell me stories. Give me tips. Slap me on the ass, throw me a beer, just get me moving in any way you can think of (I’m feeling a little more lighthearted now). I appreciate you all listening (reading) me, it helps, and whatever you’ve got to say; Thanks in advance.

[sub]Just, no cyberhugs if you please. Though, feel free to throw me a virtual beer.[/sub]

With regards to number 2: do you want to plan anything? Do you personally feel the need to go somewhere, do something, or is this just down to keeping Ramoth happy? Unless you’re sittin’ there, and thinking, “Darn! I’d like to do ‘x’, but I can’t think for ‘y’”, then all the nifty stuff like goal-setting skills ain’t gonna do squat for you.

Have you been in a situation, Mnementh, where you felt you needed to do something for yourself, and not others?

As for number three: maybe practice either saying “yes” or “no”. Or simply tell someone to get stuffed if they want you to tango with a gerbil. :slight_smile:

Just don’t get sucked into those “mind-helper” kits they try to flog off on the infomercercials, m’kay?

I’m actually pretty indifferent about what I do with my free time. Before relationships, I’d sit at home until someone else suggested we do something, and then I might go do that. I was, and am, equally happy doing either. And I do want to go out with her, it’s just that old habits are hard to break is all.

And the saying straight ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is the plan, I just have to track myself on it. Plus, who’s to say I don’t want to tango with a gerbil?

Finally, I’ve made it a goal of my life to never, ever buy anything off the TV.

With regards to number three - do you say yes for fear of upsetting people? Are you afraid to be bluntly honest (like a lot of us are)?

I know I’ll often give an answer that could be misleading or misinterpreted because i don’t want to let someone down. If that’s the case you need to look at yourself and your self image and realise you hae rights and feelings and your opinion is no less alid than anyone else’s een your SO’s.

Be true to yourself, is all I can say. If it don’t feel right, don’t do it.

And that definitely covers the gerbils. Have you seen Cecil’s column on that, BTW? blinking innocently

Here, Mnementh, have a beer while I run my mouth a little. It’ll probably sound better that way…

It really is tough when two people have such differing styles. It speaks well of you, though, that you’re working on identifying the problems and ironing them out.

Your ordering of the problems seems right — #1 is just a fact of life with you, #2 could be a little annoying, #3 could be majorly annoying.

For somebody who likes to plan and schedule their life, your cryptic answers could be incredibly infuriating. If I ask “Do you want to go to the concert this weekend,” I want to know whether I need to block aside that time from my schedule, reschedule other activities from that time, etc. Either a “Yes” or a “No” would be fine for me, but a “maybe” would drive me nuts. It would feel like a real power play ---- you know I want to be able to plan my weekend, but by holding off on your answer, it’s like some sort of power play to make me have to wait for your decision. You’re forcing me to conform to your style.

On the other hand, since this is obviously a pattern with you, have you discussed with her (as you did with us) that this wasn’t actually done with some type of controlling motives, that it was more just force of habit? If so, she just needs to learn not to accept a wishy-washy answer from you (as you’ve said some of your other friends have learned.) Reinforce to her that she really needs to call you on it. Tell her, “If I say ‘maybe later’ and you really need to know, call me on it. Tell me right then that you need a yes or no answer.”

As for #2, now that you see it’s sort of a problem, put a little effort into it. You don’t have to get to the point of initiating 50% of your joint plans — I would bet that just occasionally forcing yourself to plan something for the two of you would surprise and please her. Knowing that it’s not something that comes naturally to you, the extra effort deserves some appreciation.

Wishing the two of you well…

(who swings wildly back and forth between wanting to leave as many options open at all times, and furiously pencilling in all absolute requirements into my calendar months ahead of time)

Used to do this a lot. Toned it down quite a bit, as I realised that hey, I’m important too! Now I’m rather becoming a cynical bastard, but I’m keeping an eye on that as well and it’s not becoming trouble.

And YWalker, having her call me on it would probably be a good idea, if I can bring it up in the right way at the right time. Otherwise I think she may feel like she’s pressuring me to do things I don’t want to do. (something she worries about quasi-frequently, probably because of my tendency to be cryptic, now that I think about it). If I can convince her to call me on it, that’d help me a LOT.
As for the gerbils, I need no column. I loves me some gerbils, and they loves me back. [sub]But link me the column anyway? For… interest’s sake?[/sub]

-A much better feeling Mnementh.

Boy, you could be dating me.

First, if you don’t see why this whole planning thing annoys her, let me spell out why it annoys me. Its a big fat neon sign that says “I don’t like spending time with you and don’t care enough to think about you when you aren’t there hasseling me”

If you don’t mean that, I suggest you work outside your box and do something for Ramoth dear. Take her to dinner, throw her a party, hell rent some movies and order a pizza, but you pick an evening that you have planned. It may be a situation you don’t normally do, but child, get your ass on it anyway. Or, just give her a time (“every Tuesday night is yours. I might want to do stuff with you other nights, but you can depend on Tuesdays”) and let her plan from there. She’ll have her dayplanner and you’ll have something that isn’t too hard to remmeber without having to stress about planning.

(Sorry about the tone, minorly annoyed with my own beloved fluff head. If you couldn’t tell.)

I tried to respond to this last night, but either the board got really slow or my computer got all weird. Oh well. Here I am now.

My husband has all of those qualities. All of them. And honestly, they drive me nuts. But that’s not what you need to hear. You’ve asked for help, so let me offer some advice, and perhaps an opinion or two. We’ll start with #1.


If it’s just you & Ramoth right now, the disorganization I’m sure is irritating, but not absolutely maddening. However, if you want to go the long haul with her, as in marriage and possibly kids, the disorganization needs to be straightened out. Have you tried a day planner/calendar/journal at all? Or (since you seem to be so much like my husband, I’m gonna throw this out & see if it sticks), has the day planner thing been suggested to you repeatedly, but you haven’t done it because actually writing something down implies committing to a thing, and you a) don’t want to commit to any specific thing because you don’t like to plan, or b)you don’t want to write something down because it was someone else’s idea, and doing something that someone else asks/tells you to do makes you feel like you’re not in control?

Suggestion: Do it anyway. I’m not suggesting becoming completely anal & tied to a schedule, here. Start by writing down the important stuff. Doctor’s appointments, anniversaries, birthdays, things like that. The more you do this, the easier it will get, and eventually, you’ll be somewhat organized. You’ll have your days when nothing goes the way you wanted or thought it would (everyone does!), but those days will become fewer & further between, and life will start running more smoothly. Trust me, your SO and other loved ones will hail you heartily for this, because your chronic disorganization affects them, too.

2)Living day-to-day:

See above, regarding disorganization.

But remember, that just because you don’t like to plan things doesn’t mean that Ramoth should quit planning things. From your description, it sounds like she likes to have a plan for most things, but she’s okay with some spontaneity (correct me if I’m wrong there). If that’s the case, it’s now your turn to move up the road towards meeting her halfway. She’ll be spontaneous sometimes, if you’ll be organized sometimes. Oh, and a little organization also helps when it comes to scheduling conflicts. If Ramoth has planned something for a given day, but you didn’t write it down & forgot, then something else comes up and you say yes to that, well, there’s gonna be a problem.

  1. No straight answers:

I will absolutely agree with you and the others in saying that this is the most serious of the problems. I cannot express how maddening this can be without going into a Pit-worthy rant.

You say that most people call you on it, and they’ll get a straight answer out of you “sooner or later.” Well, they don’t want one sooner, they don’t want one later. They want one now. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t ask you now. They’d ask you sooner or later. Especially when it’s something simple, like “hey, want to go out to dinner tonight?”

I’m going to go out on a limb again & suggest that this might be a control issue. Not that you want to be in control of everyone else, but that you’re afraid of being controlled. Answering a question implies that you are giving someone else what they want, but not of your own free will. Does that make sense? Because someone has asked you to do or say something, it wasn’t your choice.

This is NOT the case. Ramoth & your other loved ones want to spend time with you. They like to know what you think. So they invite you places and ask you questions because they genuinely want your presence and your opinions. It has nothing to do with control. They’re not trying to pin you down–unless your vagueness has forced them to. And then they’re going to start thinking–“hey, you know, I can’t live my life around this guy’s deliberate vagueness. I’m going on without him.” Then, things are really going to get sucky for you.

Mnementh, I’m really, really glad that you’ve recognized that these are actual problems, and I’m really, really glad that you’ve decided to ask for some help. That’s a big first step.

Now, you just have to commit to fixing them. The fixes themselves are easy enough–it’s sticking with them that’s going to be trouble. But I have faith. And don’t be afraid to ask Ramoth for help, either. She’s got as much vested in this as you do.

Oh, and don’t be afraid to get professional help, either, if you find you can’t do this by yourself or just you & Ramoth. Problems like this can escalate, and put so much strain on a relationship, that counseling may be warranted if the other stuff doesn’t work.

Best of luck to you, and feel free to email if you’d like!


I’m going to weigh in with the people who think #3 is a control issue, as I am frequently (constantly!) guilty of the same thing. When I do it, it means that I want to keep my options open. As long as I say “Maybe” rather than “Yes,” I always feel as if I can back out later if something more appealling comes along or if I am just feeling too damned lazy and depressed to get off my ass and deal with people when the appointed time comes. Also, it suggests an unwillingness to take responsibility for the outcome. If I say “Maybe” rather than “Yes” and things go wrong, it wasn’t my fault because I never actually consented/assented. If I say “Maybe” and the listener takes it as a “No,” then I get to pout later because they failed to read my mind and the proposed event never took place. If they eventually tire of my game and assume that “Maybe” means “Yes,” I get all huffy and offended because they are being presumptious and making my decisions for me. You can see where #3 fits in with #2 – both bespeak an unwillingness to take responsibility and a possible desire to make the other person take the heat for whatever happens.

Put it all together, and is spells m-a-n-i-p-u-l-a-t-i-o-n!

Adolescent maneuvers? In my case, absolutely! I trace them back to a couple of sources, both involving my parents. First of all, when I was a kid (and to this day, for that matter!), whenever I would make decision about what I wanted, my mother would always say, “Are you sure?” Eventually, I became so uncertain about what I really wanted that I became unwilling to commit to anything. Also, refusing to give a straight answer had the added bonus of making it impossible for my mother to imply that my decision was wrong, and it kept her up in the air, giving me the upper hand in the power play.

Well, that’s all great when it comes to making your mother rip her hair out by the roots, but it sucks in real life, as an adult. No wonder Ramoth is breathing fire! I’ve only had one mate in my life (not surprising, when you think about it!), but before she died I made her life miserable with these kind of maneuvers, and I have regretted it ever since. Please don’t take a chance on losing your Ramoth, or your tail will be a draggin’ (or should I day, dragon?) Be vigilant about your own behavior, and force yourself to say “Yes!” If you have not already done so, you might want to see a doctor about being evaluated for depression. Disorganization, absent mindedness, inability to initiate action and inability to decide or commit are all possible indicators of depression. Meds can’t turn you into a new person, at least in my experience, but they do make it easier to start caring about outcomes and take a more active role in your own life.

Good luck with Ramoth. Good luck with yourself. And have a beer! Who cares if the sun isn’t over the yardarm? Skoal!

Listen to Tenar.

Everything he said is pretty much everything I tried to say. I just used a lot more words.

As for the depression issue: Keep it in mind. My husband is also clinically depressed. Now, you may well not be. But, if you find that after a while, the simpler suggestions to help alleviate your problems aren’t working, a look into the depression angle may well be warranted. For a depressed person, doing easy things is damnably difficult. If the easy stuff doesn’t help you out, there may be a much deeper underlying cause.

Pay attention to this, Mnementh. I won’t say that you’re like this, because I don’t know. But if any of this rings true for you, toss all of our suggestions right out the window and get professional help. As Tenar said, this is depressive behavior. But depression is treatable. Last stats I read were that depression is treatable in 90% of cases.

I have problem #1 and #2 somewhat, and my SO, imthjckaz, has #3.

For #1 and #2, I am thinking about taking a course called The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, which is also a book by Steven Covey. I don’t know if it will help, but for my second job, we have to take continuing education credits at the hospital (I am a resident assistant for a half-way house for alcoholics) and I thought that one might actually help me with my first job (legal secretary) too.

Now I just have to get organized enough to find the time to take it.


Number #3 might get some help from that too, and from what some of the other people have posted here.

Well you sound like the typical male to me. I wouldn’t lose any sleep of any of them, but you’ve gotten some good advice already.

outstanding, tenar. great, great job of expressing that emotional turmoil, and not blaming it on anyone else. bravo.

man, does that resonate.

mnementh, you are getting some very good advice. and for free, too. hmmm… and what am i paying my therapist for?

First, I would like to nominate Tenar for the Most Self Aware Doper of the Week. Excellent post!

Next, Mnementh, you should be congratulated for making the decision to effect a change in your life. It’s not easy, but it seems that you already have a good grasp on the particular issues that you want to focus on.

I have a lot of empathy with Ramoth, because in my own relationship, I am the organizer and my Dearly Beloved is more like what you described in #2. If life were a summer camp, I would be the person making everyone else do the Limbo Rock against their will. At first, this drove me to distraction, and I was infuriated, annoyed, in despair over the fact that the DB never initiated any plans, and responded to most of my proposals with “ok, if that’s what you want to do.” I fantasized about hearing the words “ok, but here’s what I would like to do…” In a very stupid and manipulative protest, I decided I was going to smoke him out, and not make any plans at all until he, of his own accord, proposed and organized some sort of plan. Frankly, had I kept this up, we wouldn’t have left the house since 1999. Fortunately, I realized that I liked making plans, and that I liked making the plans most of the time.

Now, this is not to say that you, or anyone, should sit back and say, “hey, in that case, I’m not changing anything!” From your OP, you want to change, and even though Ramoth might be the reason why this occurred to you, you will probably find it helps you in other relationships (friends, family) as well. These are some of the things that the DB and I did to make things better for both of us. YMMV.

–I started planning things, and then asking him to do very specific things. That way, I was still initiating most of the plans, but I didn’t feel so much like 100% of the work was on my shoulders. If I suggest going out to the movies, I will ask him to get on the computer to find the showtimes, while I call another couple to see if they want to go with us.

–You might ask Ramoth to let you know what you can do to help move things along – picking up tickets, stopping by the store, looking up info online. She might be waiting for you to suggest these things yourself, but since you can’t read her mind, you don’t know what things would be helpful. If she asked you at the onset of the plans, it might diffuse some of the frustration.

–oh, and by the way, if she asks you to call the movie theater to find out the showtimes, the answer is “sure!”, not “maybe.” :wink:

On the question of #1, being disorganized, I would ask if there is anything about which you are organized. I know people whom I would call the Disorganized Kings of the World, but their Star Wars collection is kept in meticulous order that would make the Library of Congress turn green with envy. If there is something, anything – a hobby, a collection, your hard drive – that you are good at organizing, take a look at it and learn from yourself. Figure out what things you do to organize it, and how you might apply them to a larger segment of your life. If you keep your CDs on a separate shelf from your books and your video tapes, then take a lesson from that and stop keeping your spare change, notes about where you’re supposed to be, scraps of paper with phone numbers, and the directions to Ramoth’s grandma’s house (where you were supposed to meet her half an hour ago) in a big dog pile on your kitchen counter.

Oh, and have another beer on me! :slight_smile: