I have a problem with my relationship. I’m British, and I used to go out with this European. We got on well but I argued a lot with the family. Now, I’m seeing an American, but every time we go out, he embarrasses me in front of my friends, contradicting me in public, breaking promises and making me look really silly.
I really want the relationship to be special, but he doesn’t make it easy for me. Also, my European ex is still quite keen on me, so I’m getting really, really confused. Things at home aren’t easy, either. What can I do?
Well, T.B., this seems tricky indeed. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for you to be going out with an American.
The first thing you should do is meet up with your partner and try to reason with them, using non-aggressive short words to communicate your message. Say that you would appreciate being given more respect, and that you would like your decisions and statements to be based on dialogue rather than one-sided knee-jerk reactions. Big decisions which affect others should be reached together. See what this approach brings you.
If this doesn’t work, then perhaps your relationship simply can’t be as special as you want it to be. Although they may not be thinking it, your partner may only want you as a trophy, not appreciating you for who you are or what you do. Although healthy relationships are based on mutual understanding and respect, there are those people who want someone purely to be their arm-candy. Perhaps this is what he wants of you: a silent, acquiescing, legitimising partner.
Make sure that your partner is listening, and listening to you. These days, with all the demands on our time, it’s easy to confused by images and sounds bombarding us twenty-four hours a day, and not to pay proper attention. Making sure they’re listening will help your friendships as well, as they will see that your partner is not simply being selfish or ignoring you, but is acknowledging you as a valid equal in the relationship.
You should also think carefully about how you approach your European ex. It’s good that you’re trying to stay friends, but if you’re caught cheating on your partner, then who knows where it will all end up. You must make sure that you are an independent, free-thinking person, otherwise people will decide that it’s not worth knowing you, because you simply agree with whoever you’re seeing at the time. No-one wants to be in the shadows all the time, so take some initiative.
The best advice is probably to take your partner out somewhere nice, have a quiet chat and work out the problems. If they are irreconcilable, then you should consider whether you’d be better off without them. If they can be fixed, and not at the expense of losing all your friends, then it’s something you’ll both have to work on. Good luck.
Evil Mark replies:
Stop whinging, loser. Do what the man says: bend over.