Author Topic: The Relationship Thread  (Read 2270 times)

smallcleanrat

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #30 on: October 23, 2020, 08:18:45 AM »
1)  Why has your hand been hurt for months?  What kind of care are you getting?

2) Why is it OK for him to be repeatedly hurt by the cat per the post on another thread?

3) Why are you even together if neither of you cares enough about the other to make minor adjustments that would result in less physical pain all around?

Again, I have to wonder why feelings seem to be important and yet nothing changes.

You may not want to be told to make better choices, but, damn, it seems so easy to fix some of these things. 

Someone who won't sit on the other side of the couch for a while doesn't care enough to matter.

Someone who won't deal with the cat to either get it to stop attacking everyone who lives in the household or send the cat to a new home also doesn't care enough.

I never said I don't want to be told to make better choices, especially if specific actions are being advised. I certainly value action-based advice.

What I was objecting to earlier was being told to choose better emotions or choose not to have certain thoughts, because altering thoughts and emotions is a lot more complex than altering a behavior, and people who push the "choose how to feel" advice rarely seem to acknowledge this.

1) I've had some appointments at a hand rehab clinic; they taught me some exercises I could do at home and gave me some anti-inflammatory treatment. They told me this is something I should expect to take months to heal; in the meantime, go easy on it and use ice when needed. They also gave me a brace, but I'm supposed to limit how much I wear it. It's been gradually getting better, but can still flare and certain movements are still painful.

2) RE: the cat. The cat doesn't attack *everyone*; the cat attacks my boyfriend in ways he never does to me. I did take action on this; training the cat has been a long-term project for me. I read a lot of cat behavior articles for advice on how to reduce the nipping. I went through a list of ideas to try, experimenting to see what helped, reporting results to boyfriend so he could adjust his interactions with the cat more effectively. He ignored a lot of my advice, so I'm not sure what else I can do for him.

I told him how effective it has been for me to hiss at the cat when he is being too rough, but boyfriend says he feels weird doing that (I suggested downloading the sound of a cat's hiss onto his phone and using that; boyfriend didn't like that idea either). I bought some bitter spray specifically sold to get pets to stop biting stuff. The spray has worked well to deter the cat's chewing on wires; I suggested boyfriend either put some on his feet or spray around his work area (the scent is also aversive) since the cat is most likely to go for him when he is at his desk working. I repeatedly told boyfriend that his frequent use of his foot as a lure when playing with the cat is only teaching kitty that feet are acceptable targets; he'd say, "yeah, yeah...ok" but kept doing it. I bought cat toys designed to be thrown and chased, so boyfriend had a means to divert the cat away from his feet; this worked well until the cat eventually got bored with the toys. Best bet at this point is using a can of compressed air (which coincidentally sounds something like a cat's hiss); the sound gets him to back off. I told boyfriend he has to use it consistently, every single time the cat bites his foot, until the attacks stop; for some reason, boyfriend does not do this.

I even taught the cat the "leave it" command so we had another tool to stop him from chewing anything he wasn't supposed to; told boyfriend to keep a packet of treats near his work area so he could continue to reinforce "leave it" outside of training sessions. He only did this sporadically; I don't think he does it at all anymore. I keep telling him the cat won't learn unless he is consistent. He keeps saying "ok" while continuing business as usual.

When boyfriend has Zoom meetings, I bring the cat to my room or play with him to make sure he leaves boyfriend alone. The cat is much gentler with me, probably because I've been consistent with the 'no biting' rule.

I do care about this issue. Every time something didn't work, I didn't just shrug my shoulders and say "oh, well". I tried something else. But I can't run interference 24-7; boyfriend needs to put the techniques to use if he wants the benefits.

I wouldn't consider rehoming the cat unless I thought we had exhausted all other options. And I can't believe we've exhausted all other options when boyfriend is only applying potential solutions half-heartedly.

3) We are together because these issues don't define our entire relationship. The majority of the time, he makes a sincere effort to hear me out when I say something is bothering me. He has made many adjustments (and kept it up consistently) regarding behaviors that inadvertently caused me physical discomfort or emotional hurt. I've tried to do the same for him (and he acknowledges his appreciation). He's been a huge source of moral support while I've been going through my various health issues; he says he appreciates the moral support and faith I showed in him when he decided to quit work to retrain for a new career path. We do care about each other, but each of us still has our blind spots and this can lead to frustrating situations.

« Last Edit: October 23, 2020, 08:26:17 AM by smallcleanrat »

fishbrains

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #31 on: October 23, 2020, 08:50:28 AM »

I never said I don't want to be told to make better choices, especially if specific actions are being advised. I certainly value action-based advice.


Your "boyfriend" has hurt you. Repeatedly. On purpose. That's not normal. That's not acceptable. And you should notice how you dance so very lightly around his "feelings" and "routines." You need to leave or you need to get him out of your house.

And yes: This is much, much easier for me to say than for you to do.

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A pain in the neck and an IQ of three.

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Caracal

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #32 on: October 23, 2020, 08:57:40 AM »


I know it's pretty common for one partner to have a habit the other doesn't like, and at some point it becomes clear that habit isn't likely to ever stop. The other partner either learns to live with it or continues nagging. If this were something like leaving the cap off the toothpaste or forgetting to put laundry in the hamper, I could learn to live with it. But this is something that causes me physical pain.



I think that's the correct read. And Hegemony is right that it would be one thing if his reaction was to be very apologetic and annoyed at himself for forgetting. I'm a fidgety person and often when I'm watching tv with my wife she'll say "stop shaking your leg, you're driving me crazy!" However, while I try to remember not to do that, it's just annoying to her, not painful. If it was causing her intense physical pain for some reason, I'd try a lot harder not to do it, and if I found that I really couldn't stop, I'd go sit on the chair or something.

The other thing is that my wife would insist I either be able to stop or go sit somewhere else. It actually can be hard in a relationship to consistently be considerate of your partner. I fail all the time at it. In a functional relationship, however, both people can point out when the other person is screwing up and hurting them. That might lead to an argument or a fight, but then you can figure out what's going on and how to deal with it.

I'm concerned that you don't seem to feel like you can do that. You said in another thread that you had determined you couldn't rely on your partner in a mental health emergency, but didn't seem to feel like you could  address this with him. If you don't think you can trust your partner and you can't talk to them about that concern, that's not good.

AvidReader

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #33 on: October 23, 2020, 09:53:25 AM »
Your partner's preferred routines and hurt feelings are not more important than your own health, physical or otherwise. You equate this to leaving the cap off the toothpaste. That is annoying and messy and 100% worth living with for the right person. This is not the same at all. Ideally, he should change his behavior much as Caracal describes. You can't make him do that, but in a healthy relationship, you should be able to explain your own conditions: "I'm sorry you miss sitting next to me, but I need to sit over here to protect my hand so it can heal." [optional: "I can't wait until it is better! I miss holding your hand."]

It's a huge red flag to me that you can't even switch sides of the couch. Keeping you safe and comfortable should not be worth less than his general preferences. I like "my spots" a little obsessively, but I would generally move out of any of them not just for my partner, but for any random acquaintance whose physical discomfort could be alleviated by occupying one of my preferred spaces. Wouldn't you?

AR.

smallcleanrat

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #34 on: October 23, 2020, 04:43:18 PM »
I think you are perhaps less bothered by this than you should be. Every time your boyfriend forgets and hurts you, he should be abject with a regret and apologies. And he should be saying, both out loud and to himself, "I have to figure out a way not to do this any more!  I am going to try a variety of strategies to try to remember."
..........................................
What is his reaction to all this?  A kind of "Well, I try to remember, but you know how I am" type excuse?  Or even a "It can't be that bad" response?  Because he ought to be a lot sorrier than he is.  Because it looks very much like he values his demand to have a hand to hold way above your need to protect yourself from pain. And if he's gaslighting you into believing it's just Ol' Bumbling Forgetful Boyfriend, even more so. A good guy would man up and take responsibility here.
..........................................

This is the way I used to feel. He does seem to genuinely feel bad whenever he forgets, so I couldn't understand why he still does it after so many reminders. I have confronted him about this (perhaps not quite as strongly as you suggest) and asked him why he doesn't care enough to remember. His response is that he does care; that just because he doesn't remember doesn't mean he doesn't care (I'm hearing this from a lot of the people in my life).

The reason I've toned down my judgment on this is the responses I've been getting when raising this issue in therapy. People have been sympathetic as to how frustrating the situation must be for me, but the advice centered mostly on avoiding "distorted" thinking.

"Are you considering the relationship as a whole or are you only thinking about the negatives? What about the positives?"
"Be aware you're not a mind reader. You don't know if your judgment of his intentions is accurate."
"Thinking someone 'should' behave in a certain way may not be very effective. You can't control other people's behavior, so you may constantly be frustrated that other people are not as they 'should' be."

One of the other patients in the group said he felt bad for my boyfriend. "He really, really shouldn't be doing that, but I can sympathize." He told a story of a buddy of his who was part of a group he regularly plays soccer with. The buddy had a shoulder injury and the group of guys were in the habit of using shoulder pats as encouragement or in celebration of a good play. This buddy asked the guys not to do that to him, because it was too painful, but many of the guys would repeatedly forget and give him a shoulder pat anyway. This other patient said he always felt bad when he realized he had just caused his friend pain, but it was such a habitual act that he continued to forget himself. When his friend had gotten fed up, he started charging everyone $2 for every shoulder pat. Apparently that was what it took to get them to stop (although some guys got into the $20+ range before it finally sunk in).

Other people in the group (including the therapist leading the group) thought this was a good solution to try. I was thinking that my pain should have been enough incentive for him to stop on his own. I shouldn't have to add extrinsic carrots or sticks for something like this. But I was reminded when realities outside of your control don't match your expectations, you can only change your expectations, not your reality.

I communicated with a couples counselor through a telehealth session and asked if he thought something like this was a red flag for larger issues. All he said was "That's up to you and what you feel you can and cannot accept." I found this advice too vague to be helpful.

Caracal, I was profoundly shaken by his lack of response during my mental health crisis. I'll probably post on that here at some point. But again, I wasn't getting much sense from therapy that even this was a clear indicator to walk away from the relationship. I've been encouraged to work on better communication and finding ways for his needs to be met as well as mine. I want to be fair to him: I don't think this was indifference so much as being stressed, burnt out, and overwhelmed to the point of shutting down. But I'm still not over it.

We're going to be having some difficult conversations in the near future.

smallcleanrat

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #35 on: October 27, 2020, 08:18:25 PM »
.......
2) Why is it OK for him to be repeatedly hurt by the cat per the post on another thread?

3) Why are you even together if neither of you cares enough about the other to make minor adjustments that would result in less physical pain all around?

Again, I have to wonder why feelings seem to be important and yet nothing changes.

You may not want to be told to make better choices, but, damn, it seems so easy to fix some of these things. 

...........

Someone who won't deal with the cat to either get it to stop attacking everyone who lives in the household or send the cat to a new home also doesn't care enough.

Hi, polly_mer.

Revisiting the cat thing after having a check-in conversation with my boyfriend. Wanted to see 1) how much the biting was bothering him lately and 2) whether there was anything else he wanted me to do to help. He said it was annoying but that he hadn't really been using any of the suggestions I researched much. He's decided to try the compressed air more frequently.

I was a bit taken aback by this part of your post, because several of my cat forum posts were asking advice on how to deal with the kitten's nipping habit. I tried the different pieces of advice I got there until I found some that worked for us. I was also told that 1) the nipping behavior was normal for his age and 2) his urges to do this would subside as he matured. If I had gotten any sense from the thread that I was being an irresponsible cat owner, I would have paid attention to any corrective advice.

What was the "easy fix" to "deal with the cat" that you thought I had neglected? Why did you get the sense I didn't care about this? If I didn't care, why would I have bothered to ask for advice on the cat thread?

Also, we both agreed to adopt the cat. Doesn't that make both of us responsible for him? Your post makes it sound like the cat's behavior is all on me. Why?

Hegemony

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #36 on: November 01, 2020, 07:18:28 PM »
If he wants the cat to stop trying to chomp him, he can try some of the remedies; or he can decide they're not worth it and he'll continue to be chomped.

I see a similarity here in that this man does not want to alter his behavior in order to stop something unpleasant from happening. For him, it's all on the other entity (cat, human) to change the behavior (except not when the change inconveniences him).

You're doing a whole lot of work in this relationship, Smallcleanrat. You're with someone whose modus operandi in relationships is letting other beings do the work. As for why he's this way, why he is not more flexible — it doesn't matter. If doesn't matter if he has the best intentions in the world. He's still hurting you. Many people get away with highway robbery because they "have the best intentions." It's still highway robbery. There is no moral obligation on your part to find it acceptable, just because he has "good intentions."

So there are two ways this could go. The first is that you could show him that you absolutely will not put up with this. Even if he sulks and gets all shirty and emotional. That's typically how the people with "good intentions" react. They have a big sulky passive-aggressive hissy fit when you set boundaries, like that you will not sit near him because he keeps hurting you. They lob all kinds of excuses and manipulative self-pity at you.  This is where you refuse to let their manipulative disguised anger make you change your decision. Sure, it's unpleasant to endure their emotions for a while. That's why they're having them — because they're unpleasant for you. It's an effort to control you. You just keep sailing on with your day. Eventually the emotions fade and they grouchily go with the new plan, and that's that.

Or they absolutely refuse and throw the biggest temper tantrum ever. And that's the deal-breaker. Then you break the deal.

Believe me, I know what it's like to stay with someone with dozens of petty behaviors so small that you feel silly leaving him "because it's hardly anything," and because I didn't want the big aching loneliness and anger at the end of the road to consume me. But ... if he discovers it's a deal-breaker and he's still not willing to put in the effort, what does that say?  It really defines whether you'll put up with mistreatment or not. I hope you won't say "Yes" to that.

polly_mer

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #37 on: November 02, 2020, 05:47:53 AM »
What was the "easy fix" to "deal with the cat" that you thought I had neglected?

Take this particular cat to the pound and be done with it.  You don't have time and energy for this right now.

Big picture:

1) You are in mental crisis and this guy won't help.  Indeed, some of the details shared in various places indicate he is making it worse.

2) You are in physical pain that will last for months and this guy won't make very minor changes that would help.


Logical conclusion that is within your court: Get out of this relationship and stop tinkering around the edges.

Or you can keep fretting about why he won't do anything right up to the point that you end up in the hospital.  If the sight of certain objects prompts suicidal thoughts and you're having trouble doing basic self maintenance like getting dressed in a timely manner, then you don't need this extra overhead for drama.  That drama includes the pet dependent even at the basic level of daily feeding and care, let alone these weird attacks on your current partner.

I can tell you long stories about a very helpful spouse for when I had physical problems that involved being bad enough off that I couldn't dress myself.  Mr. Mer took over all the household duties and even came to campus with me to push the wheelchair between meetings because the campus was not ADA-accessible.

I can tell you long stories about a very helpful spouse when I had terrible mismatches between my work and home life.  We moved cross-country multiple times to address those problems and he came along even when he preferred to stay in certain communities.

Your partner is a poster child for the Dan Savage DTMFA action and nothing you've written changes that.  If anything, the long, detailed posts indicate you've done all you can to salvage a relationship and it's time for you to prioritize your needs and dump this person.

Feel bad as you do so and continue with therapy for the feelings, but you have to get out.  That's the action in your court because this guy is not going to change.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2020, 05:51:14 AM by polly_mer »
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smallcleanrat

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #38 on: November 02, 2020, 07:17:14 AM »
What was the "easy fix" to "deal with the cat" that you thought I had neglected?
................
Take this particular cat to the pound and be done with it.  You don't have time and energy for this right now.
.................

Need to take some time to process your entire response, polly_mer. Right now mostly addressing this part.

1) Dumping my cat in the pound could lead to his euthanization if he isn't adopted quickly enough. No way the anxiety over that possibility or the guilt if it actually happens would improve my health in any way. Even if it didn't, being re-homed is stressful for a pet. I would not feel good about putting him through that. Not to mention how terribly I would miss him.

2) The cat has added to my daily responsibilities, but any stress or energy drain related to these is very much outweighed by the positive effect he has had on me. As others have indicated on the mental health thread, having a pet to care for can be a net positive. I do have difficulties currently to get through basic tasks, but some level of prompting helps (experimenting with apps for help with self-care). The cat prompts me with his mews and headbutts and body language to care for his needs; even on days I can't get myself to care about my own needs, I'm still able to tend to his. He gives me a reason to get out of bed in the mornings and makes it easier to sleep at night.

My emotions are maddeningly blunted by the depression, but I do love this cat; it's the strongest positive emotion I'm able to feel right now. I haven't self-harmed in months and that's largely thanks to having the cat to ground me during difficult episodes.

If the cat were suffering from neglect by being in my care, for love of him I would start looking for a better living situation for him. But he is healthy and happy and keeping him that way gives me a reason to keep going.

As for my relationship with my boyfriend, I'm not at a point where I feel I can handle any major changes. Someone on the Mental Health thread advised against making any major life decisions when struggling with simple day-to-day activities, and I think that makes sense. I feel there should be a sequence of goals, and I've got things I need to accomplish before ending a serious relationship. Mainly I would need to be prepared to be on my own without collapsing, because my boyfriend does support me physically and emotionally in many ways. I'm thinking something like:

1) Regain basic functions (eating, sleeping, hygiene, mobility)
2) Gain conviction that breaking up is the right decision. So, would need to sort out thoughts, otherwise will not have the courage to go through with it.
3) Figure out how to approach the difficult conversation(s)
4) Figure out logistics (e.g. moving schedule, dividing stuff, etc.)
5) Work through sadness without severe mental health setbacks.

I don't know. Never broken up with someone before.

polly_mer

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #39 on: November 02, 2020, 11:30:28 AM »
So keep the cat and ditch the boyfriend if the cat relationship is the positive one for you.

Keeping everything as it is and hoping it will get better may be easier in the moment, but it won't fix anything.  Letting things continue just makes it harder later to take action.

It's your life, but it does get old to observe someone ask for advice, be given nearly unanimous advice from people who seldom agree, and then fail to do anything related to that advice.

At one point, the issue was how hard someone should be trying.  Now might be a time to ask that question with a therapist for personalized feedback.

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smallcleanrat

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #40 on: November 02, 2020, 11:40:35 AM »
So keep the cat and ditch the boyfriend if the cat relationship is the positive one for you.

Keeping everything as it is and hoping it will get better may be easier in the moment, but it won't fix anything.  Letting things continue just makes it harder later to take action.

It's your life, but it does get old to observe someone ask for advice, be given nearly unanimous advice from people who seldom agree, and then fail to do anything related to that advice.

At one point, the issue was how hard someone should be trying.  Now might be a time to ask that question with a therapist for personalized feedback.

So how quick do you think I need to be about it? Today? Tomorrow?

Isn’t making a plan of action a form of doing something related to the advice?

Advice here has been for dissolving the relationship but advice in therapy is split between trying to repair the relationship and deciding to leave.

Whatever the action I want to go into it with a relatively clear head and I want to have worked out how to approach it so I’m not easily sidetracked or derailed by emotional responses. Do I just go into this with no prep and no plan for how to weather the fallout?

I’ve brought up my concerns with my boyfriend and I’ve been keeping my distance emotionally. I have brought these issues up in therapy and just started a relationship skills group. I’m not planning to drag the process out anymore than I need to, but I know myself well enough to know if I don’t go in to this with a concrete plan, i won’t be able to see it all the way through.

I do appreciate the advice I get here, and I’m not sure it’s fair to say I’m doing nothing about it.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2020, 11:49:54 AM by smallcleanrat »

smallcleanrat

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #41 on: November 02, 2020, 11:53:17 AM »
Also, I don’t think wanting a plan to handle the emotional fallout of a breakup is a trivial concern given my history. In times of extreme isolation I’ve had severe dissociative episodes and psychotic symptoms. And it’s not like I can easily visit friends to help get me through it. I can’t even ask for a hug.

I need a contingency plan.

mamselle

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #42 on: November 02, 2020, 12:45:13 PM »
I left my abusive marriage, umm...let's see...exactly forty years ago this week, the decree nisi went through.

I took the cat with me...figured the cat was better company, for one thing, and the former spouse was dangerous in ways the cat would never be.

My planning involved renting a U--Haul van for some stuff, stashing some in a hidden corner of the basement of the apartment my landlady let me use (she knew about the abuse) and leaving the heavy bookcases and books because I didn't have time pack them and figured they were the one thing my spouse, himself a grad student, would respect and not destroy among my possessions.

I waited until the long weekend he was booked to give a conference paper out-of-stare to leave.

Two friends of his from the grad program helped me move (they'd also spotted the abuse issues and weren't having it.)

The things that led up to it were:

1) The three efforts over the space of a year to get us into couples counseling: he'd go for two sessions, decide he was "fine," and it was "all my problem," and stop the sessions.

2) The fact that, despite this, the abuse escalated despite my twice taking out restraining orders, and twice going to a retreat center for a week on my own (paid for by a helpful female priest, newly-ordained in our denomination.

3) 5he fact that friends trained in social work kept saying, "You have to set a deadline. Bu what date do you need to see changes, before you prepare to leave? 6 weeks? 6 months? 6 years?

4) The fact that I realized I hadn't been given life to waste it on someone who valued holding onto their anger more than holding onto me.

5)Various researches and interactions with his family that showed the abuse, both physical and emotional, to be adeeply-ingrained pattern he was not going to be able to let go of easily.

More to tell, but I have to go teach one of my cool middle school music students.

If I hadn't left him, I doubt I'd be alive now to enjoy that pleasure.

M.
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polly_mer

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #43 on: November 02, 2020, 01:00:08 PM »
So keep the cat and ditch the boyfriend if the cat relationship is the positive one for you.

Keeping everything as it is and hoping it will get better may be easier in the moment, but it won't fix anything.  Letting things continue just makes it harder later to take action.

It's your life, but it does get old to observe someone ask for advice, be given nearly unanimous advice from people who seldom agree, and then fail to do anything related to that advice.

At one point, the issue was how hard someone should be trying.  Now might be a time to ask that question with a therapist for personalized feedback.

So how quick do you think I need to be about it? Today? Tomorrow?

Isn’t making a plan of action a form of doing something related to the advice?

What kind of advice do you need on making a plan from people who have left long-term relationships?

If things are going well with the therapist on making the plan, then why are you asking us anything?

I write because I see no evidence of planning or even evaluating in your posts.

* I see a lot of writing on details that don't matter with the important issues showing up as almost an afterthought.
* I see some very big red, waving flags that are acknowledged and then discarded in favor of details that don't matter (you are more important than a cat and yet you seem much more worried about the cat possibly not finding another home and then possibly being euthanized than your physical and mental situation).
* The exact timeline is much less important than seeing either a plan or a concrete plan to get the evaluation of the relationship done and then a plan to act on that evaluation.

Talking feels like doing something, but it isn't.  Don't get trapped into another couple years of trying to figure out how bad is bad enough to leave or waiting for everything else to be perfect so you can leave a bad relationship.  That's how people end up writing letters to advice columnists that are titled "I Dumped My Ex-Boyfriend Four Years Ago. He’s Still Living With Me.  I want him gone, but I don’t have the heart to throw him out on the streets."
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polly_mer

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #44 on: November 02, 2020, 01:03:00 PM »
Also, I don’t think wanting a plan to handle the emotional fallout of a breakup is a trivial concern given my history. In times of extreme isolation I’ve had severe dissociative episodes and psychotic symptoms. And it’s not like I can easily visit friends to help get me through it. I can’t even ask for a hug.

You don't appear to be in a relationship now if you can't even get a hug from the boyfriend during normal times.  Why are you still with him if he isn't your rock while you're susceptible to severe dissociative episodes and psychotic symptoms?

You don't need to evaluate a relationship that isn't supportive now.  You need a plan to get out (not a contingency plan, a concrete plan) and get the help you need, even if that's you, the cat, and brand-new friends who have been in similar situations and can now help others as part of a shelter, support group, or some other setup designed to help those who must leave and don't have anywhere to go.  A good therapist can help you get connected with those kinds of groups as part of a leaving plan.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2020, 01:18:29 PM by polly_mer »
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