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  1. Dear LC8328, Thanks so much for your super thoughtful response. I really like what you have to say and want to be able to respond to it properly, but I'm running out right now and won't have time until tomorrow. I just wanted to clarify one thing quickly in the meantime -- regarding him flying first class and me sitting in coach in the past, while I do still have a few concerns about that, I did want to correct the facts: He NEVER said I didn't have a right to complain. He didn't say that because I never addressed the situation with him; I just flew coach. I now know more about how frequent flier programs work -- and what happened with that trip makes a bit more sense to me (although his decision doesn't thrill me). Other than that trip we've flown together a number of times (not on his usual airline) and we always both sit in coach together. That trip was on his regular business route. Anyway, just wanted to correct that to keep the facts accurate, and to hopefully keep the focus on the issue at hand. Apart from that, the short answer to your question about his controlling tendencies.... Yes. I would say he does have some mildly controlling tendencies. Not just with me, but in life. They generally appear benign, but they do exist, and they've been noted in his non-romantic relationships as well. I will think and explain more soon. Again, thanks!
  2. Hi everyone. This isn’t a major problem at present, but I’m looking for some outside perspective. My BF (51, divorced, 2 kids) and I (43) don’t live together, but we live in the same city and spend almost every night together. It’s been like this for about a year. As I’ve mentioned before, he travels somewhat regularly (not as often as he used to; at this point it’s averaging about 5-7 days per month). From the point where he and I started getting serious, about a year and a half ago, I noticed we seemed to naturally have slightly different inclinations in terms of the amount of time we spend together, and how many things we do together. His natural inclination is to spend basically every night together, attend every event together, always socialize together. While I’ve been in serious relationships before, including being engaged, I’ve never never been in a situation with this high of an expectation of togetherness. In many ways it’s really nice, and I’ve come to really appreciate the stability. I’ve gotten used to spending pretty much every night with him. And though my natural tendency is maybe to maintain a bit more distance and independence (maybe it’s because of my attachment style; maybe it’s a subconscious way to protect myself; maybe it’s because I’ve never actually been married), I’m getting more used to doing things in his way, which is to say: though it was a bit out of my comfort zone at first, I find I’m now mostly happy in this rythm. Where I get hung up is, sometimes I just want to go out and have dinner with a girlfriend (or three) without him. Other times, I want to work late and then go to a late exercise class, and chill out by myself before seeing him. I find myself not doing these things because he feels strongly that as a “couple,” we should invite each other to everything we each do, and be available to each other every night at a reasonable hour. There is no hypocrisy in what he asks for. He invites me to everything. He would never go to a party, or a dinner, or a work event, a family gathering, or even dinner with his daughters, without inviting me and making me feel welcome. His feeling is that the natural course of life separates us sometimes anyways (for instance when he travels for work, or has a super early dinner with his daughters), but that we should spend the rest of our time together. When at times I’ve put up a bit of resistance, he expresses annoyance and hurt. I wouldn’t say he’s overtly controlling, but he feels he should be my "priority." He also says, “I don’t want to force you to spend time with me; I want you to want to.” I really value my relationship with him. The reality is, I'm instinctively a little bit resistant, in theory, to the idea of making any man my priority. It scares me! But he for all intents and purposes he is my priority. Maybe our perspectives are different because he's been married. I guess what I’m wondering is: (a) How to interpret our differences. Is he being controlling or is he just fostering a healthy, committed attachment, that I’m less used to? And (b) How to balance his requirements with mine. I find myself avoiding seeing friends without him in order to avoid creating tension, even though sometimes I’d like to. I feel that I can be a better partner when I have more "me" time. One other piece of information, indirectly related to the above: When he’s away (out of town) and I’m out with people -- or when rare circumstances dictate that we’re doing something separate for a night -- I do find him expecting a little bit more communication than I feel comfortable offering. It can almost feel like he’s checking in on me. Whether I’m out at dinner with a girlfriend or more out-out at a party, etc., he gets upset if don’t text him back quickly enough. I sense a little bit of jealousy. Generally what happens is that I’m focused on the person I’m with and I’ll accidentally miss a call or a text and not get back to him right away. He seems a little hypervigilant in these cases; he gets upset; and it stresses me out, because he has zero reason not to trust me. It’s been the cause of a few arguments.
  3. That’s right, he’s not paying my actual bills. He just treats me a LOT. He usually says something casual like “aw, it’s on me this time” ... but the thing is it’s “on him” about 80% of the time. Yeah, I guess my initial question had as much to do with peoples’ thoughts and experiences with current cultural norms regarding men paying. It’s not as straightforward as it might have been in some previous eras. Not that this scenario is just about gender norms — the income differential is just the reality of our situation.
  4. Hi everyone. Wow... thanks so much for all of your insights. So sorry -- I was swamped with work events this weekend and haven't had a chance to check in. Not entirely sure how to respond to so many different threads, but here are a few thoughts and updates: Most important, in the past few months our relationship and communication have progressed a LOT beyond my past few threads. Communication has opened up a lot and so have levels of emotional intimacy. I think we both have similarly cautious and reserved personality styles, so we both have come out of our shells a lot, and made ourselves more vulnerable, and I think this is good for both of us (in terms of individual growth), and also great for the relationship. While the comment about taking me on the trip made me feel bad, I don't see his basic relationship style as lording over me. He's a wonderful boyfriend in a LOT of ways -- not just "financially". But the financial stuff stresses me out because it makes me feel weird that I'm not pulling my own weight. Update on the past thread about phone calls (since some of you brought it up): we now both call each other regularly while he's away, and it turns out he really enjoys it (if anything, he's more into than I am). This has also helped a LOT in terms of how I feel when he does travel (and he's happy about it too). Somebody asked about our future, etc. He's told me many times that he's in this relationship "for real" and for the long term. That it's the happiest he's ever been in a relationship. The other day he used the word "forever". I'm not just defending him here. For the most part he seems to be a nice guy, who genuinely loves me, and wants to be with me and spend a lot of time with me. It feels nice. And I love spending time with him, I respect him deeply, and I generally just enjoy life with him, and overall feel more compatible with him than I have with anyone in my past.
  5. It really isn't about that specific fight -- or even about his comment. My concerns and feelings about this preceded both. I am super appreciative of his generosity. in some ways and to enjoy some very nice things with him. On the other hand, I often feel guilty about it... or just a bit weird... BTW, he doesn't buy me expensive gifts or support my lifestyle in general. Most of his generosity comes in the form of just paying for us to do nice things together. It also makes me wonder about how things would or could work or what it would be like to actual live with or be married to him. I can't even fathom how it would comfortably work (for me), and it concerns me. Maybe I'm overthinking it. I've lived my whole life being very independent.
  6. Yes, what you describe does scare me a bit. The context of that particular comment was: I had picked a bit of a fight with him about something unrelated, less than a week after our return (short argument, which was resolved quickly). During the argument, in the heat of them moment he said "I just spent $xxxx bringing you to Europe! Why are you getting upset about this other matter." As soon as he said that, I felt instantly stupid for starting an unnecessary argument. That being said, of course I wouldn't feel comfortable in a long term situations where I was expected to not air my grievances and concerns, as some kind of compensation for his financial generosity. I have no reason to think that is the expectation here, but it does occur to me that that there might be an underlying power dynamic. So my overall concerns include this, but also just an overall feeling of a bit of guilt... wondering if I should refuse the trips, etc.
  7. It sounds like it was a beautiful wedding. For me, I ALWAYS find that those periods of excitement and happiness (and adrenaline) are always and inevitably followed by a crash. I remind myself that there is an actual chemical component to this phenomenon... the body/mind literally need to recalibrate after being flooded with so many endorphins and so much adreniline. I remember this even going back to early childhood ("the day after Christmas" phenomenon). And it still happens for a few days after a birthday, a beautiful gathering, an exciting party, or trip. I also notice this when a project that entails intense planning, work, and anticipation suddenly ends. Specifically: when I'm involved in a grueling work project, pulling all-nighters, and really putting my all into something for a period of time. While the project is going on, I can't WAIT for it to be over, but I inevitably feel depressed the moment it is complete. There is suddenly a hole in my life, a temporary lack of purpose, and I feel lost and a bit empty. That combined with the adrenaline crash, and the exhaustion (both of which I'm sure you're feeling) leave me feeling bereft. I remind myself that the feeling is temporary. Please try to give yourself some time to rest, and pick a few nice, indulgent things to do for yourself.
  8. I've written about my BF here before. We've been seeing each other very seriously for a little over a year, and prior to that were consistently dating for over 3 (long story as to why it took so long, but all is mostly very good now). He is VERY good to me in many ways. I make enough money to support myself in kind of a very "regular" lifestyle (albeit in a very expensive city). I have a very regular job. I own my home, and can do some nice things, but I don't have much disposable income after that at all. He is in a very different position than me financially. While he's not overly extravagant, he works his dream job, which is artistic nature, and enjoys much continued success in this arena. He owns multiple homes, and basically has significant more income than me (and more than many of his friends). He's early 50s; I'm early 40s. Here's my issue. I often feel guilty and/or nervous about this. He pays for me far more than I pay for him. I always offer to pay when we go out to dinner, buy groceries for weekends away together, etc. He occasionally lets me pay or contribute, but the reality is he pays far more than i do. (To put it in perspective a little bit, he also is often the guy who pays for friends when we're out... not always, but it does happen). In addition to that, he likes to go on trips, and he basically pays for those trips. It's really lovely, but I'm currently stressed about it. When we go away, it's automatically a baseline "expense" for me because I miss work and therefore don't get paid for the days I'm away. When we do travel, I offer to pay for dinners and miscellaneous things (and he occasionally lets me), but really the bulk is paid for by him. We *just* got back from a beautiful trip to Europe. And today he proposed that we go on *another* short trip to Europe at the end of the month (it would be to celebrate his birthday, and also to see his best friend, who lives in Asia but will be in Europe briefly). He made it understood that he would only go on this trip if I go with him. He also spends about a week a month on the west coast, and generally wants me to come (usually just for a weekend), and again he is willing to pay for it (albeit for those trips its frequent flier miles, of which he has plenty, but still...). He's also planning another group trip for Christmas, and then also tends to bring me on his family vacations with his children. I realize this is hardly something to complain about, but while it's very wonderful, it makes me nervous and stressed out. It also makes me wonder about how things could/would work if we really wanted to say, move in together some day or formalize our relationship more. I understand that he WANTS me on these trips, and enjoys them *because* I'm there, but I still feel a bit uncomfortable. How can I feel like more of an equal? I never feel I can adequately repay him. Is this all leading to a point where the other shoe drops and he somehow resents this? How do these things usually work? There is also a small part of me that worries about the power dynamic in this kind of arrangement. We recently had a little argument (since resolved) but he basically said "I took on an amazing trip, you therefore can't be upset at me for anything." (This isn't something he usually does, but it worried me). Any thoughts/advice/experience appreciated.
  9. Katrina, Thanks, as always for the encouragement and insight. I'm also sooo happy to hear you're happy and with a super compatible guy now!! I definitely, definitely agree with some of what you say. I think I really, really need to push myself to open up more, to think about what I want, to ask for what I want, etc. The interesting thing is that overtime I've done that with this guy, the result has actually been positive. And in so many ways, though the process has been really slow, our intimacy has increased a lot! (Physically, emotionally, etc.). However I don't necessarily assume that HE is comfortable with distance. We have a close mutual friend who moved out of the country about 10 months ago. (It's actually my BF's lifelong best friend, and also a close friend of mine for many years). He just came back to visit and said to me, "Wow! You guys are physically affectionate and cute with each other now! I've never seen you like that before! It's great!" This was also the same friend whom I used to confide in about my relationship concerns all of the time. (Concerns like: why aren't we more comfortable/intimate/romantic/affectionate?). He would always tell me that my bf and I were saying the EXACT same things about each other. I do believe that my bf wants more intimacy -- I think he is used to the woman pushing things forward. I'm used to the guy doing that. You're right -- that may be an incompatibility... but I'm hoping it's an opportunity for us both to grow. (I noticed, incidentally, that in his family his mom is VERY dominant and kind of runs the show; in my family it's the reverse). I recently took the major step (for me) of introducing him to my family (I'd met his a few times), and I've noticed that since then, he's really been a lot more open in many ways -- even in terms of physical affection, etc. It makes me think that continuing to open myself up and take risks might be a good thing for us. But I definitely hear what you're saying; I agree our relationship has taken a strange and slow course... and I will continue to pay attention to this stuff, and as you suggested, push myself to rock the boat when needed, to be less hesitant, etc.
  10. This is a really good question, boltnrun. I agree there is some kind of underlying fear there. Maybe it relates to some kind of underlying realization that I'm getting older and seeing this as my last chance not to be alone. Or maybe reflective of some issues/fears of authority that I have (on some basic level I have more respect and admiration for this guy than others I've dated in the past; and he's also older). Or maybe the fear of this relationship dissolving into the kind of volatile dynamic I've experienced with past boyfriends. Good news is I just found a therapist, and hope to work on some of these possible issues with her.
  11. Katrina, this is SUCH good advice. Thank you so much. I really do want a more emotionally intimate and comfortable relationship, and I like the idea that pushing myself a little bit out of my comfort zone (and beyond the fear of rocking the boat) might actually help to achieve that. I will definitely work on all of this! Thank you so much for all of your encouragement and insight along the way!
  12. I totally should have said something right then. It's not unheard of him to text and drive, though he doesn't make a habit of it... Something did seem slightly different about this text.
  13. Thanks, MissCanuck. Yes, I think you are right. For some reason I'm still insecure in this relationship, and I can't quite put my finger on why, or what to do about it. There are a few factors: I find myself a lot more restrained than I was in previous relationships. Maybe because he's older (older than me, and older than any guy I've ever dated)? Or he has a certain amount of authority I'm not used to? Also, the beginning years of our relationship were just so strange. We were not officially committed to each other for a very long time and never really spoke about things. I think this was as much because of me as it was him, but it gets hard to parse everything out so far after the fact. We developed strange patterns and were somewhat closed and distant to each other for a very long time. It took us a very long time to actually become close. Maybe because he himself doesn't seem as open and extroverted about his thoughts and feelings as guys I've dated in the past. He stresses that I should feel 100% comfortable being open with him, etc. but I don't feel that I am. I also, perhaps because we for so long led closed off and separate lives while seeing each other for so long, sometimes have this sense that he might have this capacity to have facets of his life I know nothing about. During the past year he hasn't given me any reason to think that this is the case, but it's just this vague feeling that is there sometimes. It's like we're always on our "best behavior" with each other and I'm never entirely, entirely sure what's going on beneath the polite and agreeable surface. The nice thing is that the relationship is much less volatile than any I've had in the past. I'm afraid to mess that up. But at the same time I agree that my ongoing insecurities about this, manifested in different ways, have been a consistent in my posts here. The thing is, I really am generally happy, but I can't deny that I have some nagging insecurities and concerns.
  14. He actually WAS doing it while driving (I know... not good).
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