I am stuck. It has been 2 years since I discovered my common law partner of 20 years was cheating. I found his email open revealing about 7 months of deception. I need not go into details. We were in marriage counselling at the time, guess it wasn’t working!
So here’s the issue. Until this May 2013 we stayed together trying to make sense of what happened. Things became worse to the point where we agreed to a 1 year trial separation. I am living in the house and he has an apartment. Financially, emotionally, mentally it has been very hard. I left work on stress leave and now am unable to return to work.
Now financially it is even harder but I am getting by. The main issue is that we will go for periods of no contact (1 or 2 weeks) without a word even. Then we will connect…he wants me to come over for dinner, he bought me lovely gifts for my birthday, he sends multiple emails saying he misses me and hopes there’s no one else. Just as I start to feel stronger on my own he connects with me again. We have been intimate a few times during these reconciliations.
It is confusing me and causing me to feel hopeful for a total reconciliation. I asked him during our last reconciliation (there was no sex this time) doesn’t he find going weeks with no contact and then acting like everything is okay confusing as I do? He said he doesn’t analyze things like I do and as for our relationship “it is what it is!!!!!!!!!!!”
I had to leave the room…how could he say that? What does that mean? Why am I still considering allowing him to take me out for my birthday dinner? My psychologist likens our relationship to putting a plant in acid once a week and then returning it to fresh water and wondering why it won’t grow! I get this analogy and I know she is right. Thing is (not sure why) I am still in love and do still have hope that we can make things right between us.
So I guess what I want to know is…how do I break free and be okay with it? I do suffer from self confidence issues (obviously) and am trying to work on getting stronger and healthier.
Any advice you have would be most appreciated. (By the way, my psychologist recommended your site.)
It is what it is?
Boy, this guy is the king of nebulous non-commitment. (It didn’t skip my attention that he’s your “common law” husband either.) What is it? It is the IT that dare not speak it’s name! IT cannot be defined! IT just shows up for dinner and the occasional fuck. Let’s not name IT. Just accept IT.
How’s that working for you, Dana?
Is this the sort of relationship YOU want? Are you cool being with someone who can go entire weeks without speaking to you, but expects you to stay committed to him and not date others? Let’s put aside the whole cheating thing for a moment, and entertain the preposterous notion that he’s being faithful to you right now — if this is all there was — you live separately, he dates you on occasion (but don’t call him your boyfriend, or common law husband, it just Is What It Is), and you fuck when he’s feeling like it — would this be ENOUGH for you?
Oh, but it’s temporary. He moved out in May. You’re giving yourself another year of torturous limbo, even though you seem to have already spent two full years in limbo already. You’re hopeful. Because nothing says I’m committed to this relationship, Dana, like moving out and getting his own apartment.
He’s got you doing the pick me dance. Maybe you don’t feel like you’re directly competing for the OW, but he’s got you dancing all the same. If you just don’t rock the boat, if you give him this space, if you show him how patient and caring you are… he’ll come around! (“Pick me!”)
This isn’t what reconciliation looks like. You could find a bunch of nuts on the internet that will blow smoke up your ass and tell you to be hopeful. (“Stand for your marriage!” comes to mind). Thankfully, your shrink is talking sense to you and you came here. This is a community of chumps who gets it — we’ve left cake eaters and gotten to the other side, and you will too.
Dana, you’re giving this idiot ALL YOUR POWER. Why? You’re agreeing to life in a holding pattern, and by either quitting or losing your job because of stress leave (you didn’t say which), you’ve made yourself economically vulnerable to him. BAD IDEA. Are you thinking at some level if you’re dependent on him, he won’t leave? He’ll feel more tied to your shared life together, and see he has obligations?
How’s that working out? Sure, just give him more control! He likes control. Maybe he’ll pay your house note in exchange for cake. Because that’s what you’re giving him now — CAKE. He gets the relationship all on his terms. Drops in when he feels like it. Keeps you on the hook with pleasant lies like he “misses you.” He doesn’t miss you, Dana. I’m sorry — he misses CAKE.
People who miss you? They clamor to be with you. They ACT like they miss you. They make you a priority. What goes on when he’s away from you? Is he pinned under a rock? Does he saunter home and fall into a bear trap? Is he kidnapped by terrorists?
No — he tunes you out. Probably explores His Other Options. And when he needs a Dana kibble fix, he comes calling. Guys like him need fall back kibbles. He gives you just enough — starvation rations, really — to keep you hooked. Doesn’t take much effort on his part. A few presents. Some texts. Dinner.
But to you it’s huge. You see hope. You cling to your shared history.
Put down the spackle, Dana. Quit chasing unicorns. Dude’s a cheater. A cake eater. A vat of acid. How do you break free and be okay with it? GET ANGRY! Get mad at yourself for accepting so little. Recognize your worth. Get mad at him for his cake eating, for his devaluing of you. Get mad at yourself for YOU devaluing you.
You set your own price. And you put yourself in the bargain bin. To be Dana’s significant other — it’s all yours for this tiny investment. Some lame ass texts that he “misses” you. Dinner and a movie. For THAT he gets your undying commitment and financial risk?
No, no, no Dana. Set your price higher. You don’t trifle with a loser like him. Your relationship deserves a NAME, for fuck’s sake. When you ask him “what is this? I’m confused” — he’s above all the petty “analyzing” you do. You know why? Because if you thought on this long and hard enough YOU’D SEE IT’S A SHIT DEAL. “Let’s not over think this” means — let’s not THINK. You just shush.
You went along with that before. But now you want to be strong enough to stop going along with it. I get it.
Your shrink’s analogy about the plant in acid not being healthy is a good one. But I would point out that the problem is — when you take a bath in this acid, it doesn’t feel like acid — it feels like REWARD. If it felt like acid, yeah, you might connect the dots sooner.
No, the rewards of irregular love are addictive. Science says so. This shit affects your brain chemistry. Sleeping with him will set you waaaay back. This is why no contact is so, so important. Kicking a cake eater to the curb can be like kicking a drug. The longer you stay absolutely no contact with him, the stronger you’ll be. But you have to tough out withdrawal. You’re an addict who wants a hit. You want a toke on the hopium pipe. He cares! He brought me a pretty present!
Every time you repeat that cycle, you reinforce it. You’ve been doing the limbo rock for over 2 years. Every time you open your heart to him, and he devalues you — you erode your self esteem and make it that much harder to break out of this shit. You need those kibble scraps that much more. Your attention winnows down to Just Him. What is he thinking? What is he doing? Where is this going?
Force yourself to face yourself. Who gives a fuck what motivates him. What moves YOU? What is Dana going to do for Dana?
Take your life back. Need work? Find a job. Distract yourself madly. Fill the world with people who do value you, who you enjoy. Volunteer. Find an improving hobby. I know you think I’m spewing banalities at you (an improving hobby? Really?) — but I mean it. Start working on eclipsing this mother fucker from your life. Stop making HIM your life and start making What Interests Dana your life.
Dana wants a real relationship with an available man? This guy isn’t it. When Dana is clear with what Dana wants, the course of action will be clear. Dump the cheater, gain a life.
Just because he doesn’t care about saving this, doesn’t mean you aren’t lovable and worthy, Dana. Read that again — he doesn’t want to save this. Not the way YOU want to save it (he moves home and commits to you, and moves heaven and earth to fix what the hell is wrong with him). That’s clear in his actions. You’re just not accepting the message. You’re clinging to his cruel bullshit about missing you.
Stop looking to him for validation. He’s a sugary carbohydrate piece of shit. You deserve better than cake man. And better is out there, Dana. Much better. Being alone collecting cats is better than eternal limbo with a cake eater. What you’re living is HARD — find the courage to step away from the crazy. It gets so much easier when you do — and we’re all here to encourage you.