In Dating, Does Water Truly Seek Its Own Level?

Name: Clarissa
Age: 25
City: boston
State: massachusetts
Comment: I have been in a relationship with this guy for 3 months. We were together before but we broke up. Now we decided to get back together and that our feelings are still there. We tell each other that we love each other and we check up on each other. But my only issue is that he is really needy. He always needs me to do something for him and it gets annoying.I don’t like when people are very needy especially when they have a job or the proper resources and they feel that you have to help them with everything. He is also very controlling and whenever I fuss he gets really mad and tells me to stop acting different. Which I’m not, I am just speaking my mind. Now he is really listening and trying more. but it won’t be long before he goes back to being the same way. He is always partying and at his friends house. And I can only see him on his time. Like if I go somewhere he has to know with who and where. Or he will just randomly pick a day to come over my house. I hate it. Every time I tell him I am about to leave or i start to pull away or call less he starts begging and saying sorry or saying how much he misses me. It’s like how many times can you say sorry. I’m starting to get tired of him. And even though I love him these things are pushing me to the edge. One day he called me out of nowhere and said babe where are you. I want to see you, and meet your family. I asked him if he was OK because he wasn’t into meeting my family for a short time in our relationship. After that day he has become very clingy. Two days after he was sad about something and I gave him advice and talked to him. And he wouldn’t let me go to sleep. He kept calling me saying he couldn’t go to sleep without talking to his babe. Then the next morning he just kept texting me all day and being loving. Which he does. No lie. And then after that day he went back to his old self. I feel like he is afraid of commitment. And he is backing off a little out of fear. But what do I know. What are your honest thoughts? Because I am on my last straw.and i really want to be with him but how more can you take.

You two are clearly incompatible. You have very different personalities and thresholds for certain behavior. So much so that I’m trying to figure out what you saw in each other in the first place.

I remember be at a happy hour with co-workers back when I worked a regular 9 to 5 job. One of the guys was saying how most people were average looking. Or as he referred to them, “a solid 5 or 6.” He pointed out a couple of women at the bar and assigned them a number on his sliding scale of hotness. Then he said, “My girlfriend is average. I’m a little above average.” There went my belief that every man found their girlfriend or wife beautiful. My stomach developed a knot thinking that, if he made such an obnoxious comment publicly, what the hell did he say privately. Or worse…to her face.

I had met his girlfriend a few times and did often wonder what the attraction was. As much as I hated to admit it, he was a very good looking – if arrogant –  guy. Lookswise he could have scored a woman who was more objectively “hot.” But the real confusion came to their personalities and lifestyles. They seemed like polar opposites in every possible way. The point that stuck out to me most is that he was so disciplined when it came to what he ate and working out and she was a little overweight and out of shape. She had actually expressed insecurity about her body another time we had been together socializing. I imagine it must have been difficult to be struggling with your own body image issues as your partner fastidiously stuck to a diet and work out regime. I toyed with the idea that he enjoyed passive aggressively torturing her with his fixation on his body. That’s something that has always puzzled me: how does someone so focused on their own fitness reconcile with being with someone who doesn’t share the same mind set? Could it be that there really was something psychological at work there? A type of gaslighting, perhaps?

It wasn’t until many, many years later as I reflected on that pairing did it start to make sense to me. I wondered if he preferred a woman who was non-threatening. Was his ego too fragile to endure having it challenged? Is that, like, a real thing? Was his relationship an example of water seeking its own level?

I think that sometimes attraction has nothing to do with the physical and everything to do with the mental. Subconsciously – or maybe in some cases even consciously – we seek out people who won’t intimidate us or make us feel inadequate. Or who make us feel needed. Or who make us feel superior. And so on.

My point, OP, is that even to the casual observer, your relationship doesn’t appear to be working. It seems the obvious answer is to break up. I would encourage you to ask yourself what you really found so attractive about this guy in the first place. Is it possible that his needy, weak behavior somehow compliments your domineering and, well, cold demeanor? Maybe you are with him because he’s someone who, because of his own limitations,  accepts you as is?

Just something to consider.

 

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16 Responses to “In Dating, Does Water Truly Seek Its Own Level?”

  1. AnnieNonymous Says:

    Sometimes relationship dynamics make sense in ways that don’t fit into common categories. I knew a couple that seemed really badly matched. He was great-looking (actual former male model) and she was frumpy. But she had a lot of money and didn’t mind spending it on him, which fed into his ego and sense of entitlement. She also looked a lot like his mother (ie, the first definition of female beauty he was ever faced with). There might be something weird like that going on with the second couple you mentioned. Or maybe the woman used to be better-looking.

    As far as the submitted question goes, they just sound immature. I always laugh at the questions that have a lot of “and then this happened…” They got back together because they were both still single, not because the relationship was ever functional.

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  2. ISOf16 Says:

    Oh my golly….. Within the first few sentences, he sounds like a nut case….. and she is his groupie. For being 25 years old, she is sure is working hard on making it work with this guy, who is not serious relationship matterial. Send him back to his Mama :-)

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  3. coffeestop Says:

    I am thinking two things, despite her complaints she on some level enjoys the attention because they broke up and got back together. And he is a bit not needy, controlling. She said she can only see him on “his” time and yet he imposes on hers, calling wanting to know what she is doing, showing up. She needs to bail, this won’t end well. I am thinking even if she breaks up wiht him he is going to try and insert himself back in. On the other hand she needs to do an honest self assessment about what her wants and needs are and be honest with herself. This does not sound like a fun relationship but I am also not in my 20’s.

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    • fuzzilla Says:

      >I am thinking two things, despite her complaints she on some level enjoys the attention<

      Totally.

      She should make a side by side list of "behaviors of his" and "things that I like about him." In a healthy relationship, there wouldn't be a lot of cognitive dissonance between the two. The left-hand side would say something like "He sees the absurd in everyday situations" and the right-hand side across from it would say "He always makes me laugh and remember not to take life too seriously." If the left-hand side says "He kept calling me saying he couldn’t go to sleep without talking to his babe," what does it say on the right-hand side? That she likes to feel needed and fussed over? Yet needy and fussy behavior annoys her and she keeps "trying" to break up with him?

      Yeah, the letter is all about him; she needs to shine a light on her own behavior and motivations. This all seems pretty like common stuff to go through in your 20s when you don't know better.

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  4. Jeanne Says:

    He is who he is and I don’t think he will change, He is needy and controlling at the same time, forget that noise. If he is making her so unhappy, she needs to take a look at why SHE needs to be with him. Who would choose to be with someone that is so different from you and makes your life difficult. It will only get worse with time and she will grow to resent him even more. Move on girl and find someone who works for you. There are more out there. Good luck.

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  5. LaMotta Says:

    This might simply be the two of them being codependent and (it sounds like) immature.

    The OP in this case, who has ascribed herself the “superior” (mature) role, may be just “as bad” as this needy boyfriend, because she needs the dependence.

    This may have something to do with the need for a “non-threatening” partner, as you point out, but it could also be some sort of dependence. There is a “thing” about people who need someone to “take care of”, either to distract from problems in their own life, fulfill some caretaker need, or what have you.

    I know; I’ve been there. Similar to this case, I was in the “superior” role, as the “caretaker”, but eventually I realized I wasn’t even helping my s.o. by letting her develop dependence on me. Despite love, we broke up (at my instigating).

    The OP needs to realize that love isn’t everything. I think it’s necessary, but not sufficient, for a healthy and fulling relationship. There are a lot of “deal breakers” that can undermine love.

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  6. LostSailor Says:

    he is really needy…He is also very controlling…he is really listening and trying more. but it won’t be long before he goes back to being the same way…And I can only see him on his time. Like if I go somewhere he has to know with who and where. Or he will just randomly pick a day to come over my house…Every time I tell him I am about to leave or i start to pull away or call less he starts begging and saying sorry or saying how much he misses me. It’s like how many times can you say sorry. I’m starting to get tired of him…And he wouldn’t let me go to sleep. He kept calling me

    These are all classic signs of an abusive person and personality. The needing to know where you are and who you are with, constant “checking up,” the begging to stay when you threaten to leave, the brief attempts to be “good” and quickly reverting to controlling ways, etc. If he hasn’t hit you yet, he will.

    Get out now and don’t look back.

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    • dina Says:

      i agree and would suggest this guy is suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder. i would suggest the Op read up on the subject before it’s too late and she get’s more deeply involved in this guys needy and controlling behavior.

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  7. Matt Says:

    Dump him, OP. If things didn’t work before, why would you think they’d work again? Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.

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  8. India Says:

    Less on the op’s situation (which needs to end) but in Moxie’s scenario:

    I have seen this “hot guy average girl” dynamic several times in my life. The key is that there is usually only one “peacock” in a relationship. Only one person can be the center of attention, or the lead so to speak. Highly attractive men and women both grew up being that center of attention. Each do best with a more tolerant, less showy, more sub partner. You seem this most commonly with a beautiful woman and her average looking husband, who showers her with attention. But occasionally the 10/10 man just want the easy, tolerant woman who is always available. He is used to laying back and letting the woman pursue him – he is not used to “working” to get the girl.

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    • LostSailor Says:

      He is used to laying back and letting the woman pursue him – he is not used to “working” to get the girl.

      Or he wants a pleasant, companionable woman and doesn’t want to put up with the drama and histrionics that can often go with being with a hotter woman…

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      • Matt Says:

        So “hot” women are automatically shrill, vain harpies? Drama and histrionics aren’t dependent on one’s level of attractiveness.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 7

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        • LostSailor Says:

          Reading comprehension fail. “Often” does not mean “automatically.” Try reading something call a dictionary…

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 9

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  9. Mark Says:

    Who is the bigger fool: the fool or the fool who follows?

    Sorry OP but you have identified the issues and concerns you have about this guy. Yet you still are implicitly agreeing to his pattern of behavior.

    Seems to me that you have already answered your own set of questions about this guy. Follow through with what you are trying to tell yourself.

    Hope things improve in the future.

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  10. imadime Says:

    worst answer ever…that long drawn out story was completely unnecessary. all this girl needs to know is that this guy gets off on control. controlling where she’s going, who with and when. controlling her emotional state. controlling if how and when the two of them will be together.

    GET OUT NOW. stop trying to make sense of this sociopathic behavior. you’re young, and i know the inclination is to believe that he really loves you, but…

    the fact is, men don’t tend to be super complicated, it’s us women who over-analyze their behavior and try to attach meaning to things that are ultimately pretty simple.

    this behavior will not change. it means exactly what it appears to mean (in total) and it will only escalate/get worse.

    cut your losses and move. on.

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  11. cake Says:

    Moxie, I think your friend is into you. He’s dropping a bait and seeing if you’ll bite.

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