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Is my relationship unraveling in front of me? Desperately seeking advice ...


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I need some advice, and I will try to keep this as short as I can, but there have been a lot of little small issues in my relationship lately that have me upset and confused about what I want in my future… If I’m missing something or even completely wrong in my thinking, I honestly want to know. It is adding up to the point of seriously affecting me, whether I should let them or not.


Background: I am a 29 year-old female, no children, never been married. I have a decent job and a two-year IT degree. I’m no rockstar, but I feel I’m doing fairly well so far in life. I’m dating a 30 year-old man, also no children and has never been married. I have lived with him for three years now and we have been dating for nearly four (I pay him rent). We’re best friends 95% of the time and do a lot together.


The issue of marriage has been brought up occasionally over the past two years or so. When we first getting to know each other, we discussed a lot of things (life goals) that were important to us to ensure we both wanted the same things. This was not limited to simply marriage, but marriage is something that he had stated is important to him and something that he wants in the future. I will not be limiting this post merely to marriage goals, as there is other stuff going on, but it is something that has been greatly bothering me. As you will find out, it unravels from there into a lot of other issues.


After a couple years of occasional jokes and hints and back-and-forth banter about marriage, I started to grow concerned. He would state that it was important to him, but other than just speaking the words, there was no behavior or inquiry to reflect that. Last month, I sat down with him to actually talk about it. I got so tired of keeping this feelings of frustration and confusion inside (and trying not to be "that demanding woman who insists on marriage")… It was an awkward conversation, and extremely stressful (for the both of us I’m sure). I had spent two weeks prior reading articles and even studying a communication guide before sitting down to have the conversation. I didn’t want to feel like I was giving him an ultimatum but I also wanted him to realize how serious the issue of marriage has become for me without pushing him away. I felt like I was walking a tight rope, but I had to stop hiding my feelings and communicate.


After sitting down to talk with him, he stated that he has hesitations about marrying me because I am too aggressive (not about marriage, but in general). He made examples of over-vocalizing my opinion or bickering with him sometimes or correcting him when he states something that isn’t entirely true. I was surprised to hear how nit-picky it all was, and I was discouraged after being left feeling like I was on trial... The conversation completely flipped and turned into a complete dissection of my character. I cannot recite his exact words at the end of the conversation, but he left me feeling like I was undeserving of marriage – which isn’t true in my opinion for either of us. I would never have such high standards of perfection for him. I know he is not perfect, and I know I am not perfect, but I have always tried to allow him to be himself and love him despite small flaws in his character that I otherwise wouldn’t even be thinking about. Marriage would be the next step for us, as traveling companions, on a lifelong journey of growth.


So this all hit me hard for two reasons: 1.) aggressiveness has always been an aspect of my personality that has both been necessary and has served me well in times of my life and 2.) I found it extremely hypocritical, as he would not knowledge that he has ever acted in the same manner.


Discouraged, I tried to take it with a “grain of salt” and work on being gentler with him in any areas that I could. I figured that I needed to look at myself and change whatever it was about me that wasn’t right, so I started putting a lot of effort into monitoring my behavior and finding more thoughtful, gentler things to do for him.


And that’s when it all started to unravel on me.


I began to notice the double-standards in our relationship. There would be times when he would stop me mid-story to tell me that he’s “heard it before” and that I was “repeating myself again”. But then so many times I would patiently listen to the same story about one of his coworkers or the same opinion on his political views, over and over… and listening never bothered me, because I knew he enjoyed talking about it.


I started noticing him acting out passive-aggressively over the silliest things. A small disagreement or even difference in opinion on a topic, and I would be temporarily cold-shouldered. I started to notice the noises he would make or the eye rolls to things that I would say or do that he didn’t understand or agree with – behaviors that he would have a huge problem with me doing if I did them.


And all of this makes it sound like we fight often, but we don’t. Most of the time, he’s an extremely loving and affectionate guy. But despite that, I started examining him the same way he seems to have been examining me… and I began to notice all of these little double standards and hypocrisies.


And then today happened. Our chickens escaped the backyard, and we had to round them up and bring them back. My boyfriend brought them inside from the neighborhood street and I proceeded to cut back all of their wings. We went upstairs and talked about the livestock complaint from one of our neighbors, and I mentioned that I thought it was the neighbors on a specific side of us. He quickly told me that I cannot be sure, and my exactly words were, “Well I’m not sure but still pretty certain” with no tone in my voice. He scoffed, making a condescending noise and them attempted to correct me. Surprised, calmly questioned why he felt the need to do that, and told him I felt like he was being a little disrespectful.


He then shut completely down, as is typical for him. And after a nap, I went downstairs to find him and get ready for our dinner plans tonight with family. He was on the couch and wouldn’t respond… finally mumbling, “I’m not going.”


We had agreed to go initially, had been planning this for about a week. But I knew that he was refusing to go as some sort of punishment, which is also typical for him. I became very frustrated, wanting to know what the hell was going on. He stated that he was tired and then nothing else.


Roughly an hour later, a neighbor rang our doorbell to tell us that three of our chickens had indeed managed to escape our fenced backyard...AGAIN. I apologized and hurried into the living room. I woke up him and asked for his help in looking for them to which he replied, “They are YOUR chickens. You’ll just have to do the same thing I did this morning.” with a tone that implied that I was just standing around picking my nose earlier rather than cutting wings (because he doesn’t know how). Side note: They are also OUR chickens, it was a project we agreed to start together, but he often refers to them as “MY” chickens when he is upset with me.


So I walked about a mile around the neighborhood looking for these birds. Earlier, they had been in plain sight. Not the case now. In fact, I have now returned and am typing this all out in frustration and pain.


I am exasperated. This isn’t just about the chickens. This is isn’t just about marriage. Yes, those are two things that I either enjoy or extremely important to me… but this is about more than that.


I love my boyfriend, and I want to be with him badly. But I do not know if I can if these behaviors continue. Please help me figure out what to do, and how to best handle myself. We’ve talked about these issues before, but it always gets turned back on me. It always becomes my problem. And I am sure some of it is my fault and my problem, but I truly feel like I am being sorely mistreated in this relationship.


Again, I don’t want to leave him. But I cannot continue if things stay the same, not after our conversation last month and my realization that I might very well be being played. My mind starts to reel about how I often (multiple times a week) offer oral sex and am always the one to initiate any intimacy… about how I do 75-80% of the housework (easy) despite how he would like to try to make it seem otherwise. I start to think about all of the cooking I do for him and how every choice I make takes him into consideration (even employment)… I am a loving like “wifie” to him but am not getting anything in return, at least nothing that hugely matters to me: tolerance, patience, inner strength (and ability to communicate)… Instead, he’ll buy me groceries just to hold them over my head later (and I can very well afford my own groceries)…


Is there any hope? And regardless of that… what should I do now? I’ve spent nearly four years with this man, who is amazing 95% of the time. But I am terrified at these new realizations that I am wasting the best years of my life on someone who will only ever view me as an accessory or 2nd priority and just string me along for as long as they can before making an upgrade the second they become bored.

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Reading your post brought me to tears. I am in a very similar situation to you (I'm 30 and in a four year relationship which seems to not be leading to marriage any time soon). While I can't offer you any advice (I wish I knew the right answer...) I definitely feel for you and I hope you determine what is best for you and your future. It's very disheartening feeling that you've invested so much of your time and energy into a relationship (...and another person) and feeling taken advantage of. Best of luck.

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Reading your post brought me to tears. I am in a very similar situation to you (I'm 30 and in a four year relationship which seems to not be leading to marriage any time soon). While I can't offer you any advice (I wish I knew the right answer...) I definitely feel for you and I hope you determine what is best for you and your future. It's very disheartening feeling that you've invested so much of your time and energy into a relationship (...and another person) and feeling taken advantage of. Best of luck.


I appreciate your words, and I am sorry you have found yourself in a similar situation. It truly is heart-wrenching. My boyfriend is my best friend. We share many of the same hobbies, interests, passions, etc. Our lives have become so intertwined as well: from the shared house full of shared memories to both of our families being very close. There's definitely been an investment in the relationship, but I can see where I have likely gone wrong giving too much... maybe I should have looked closer in the beginning at the balance in our relationship. I truly do love him. I don't want to be with anyone else. I wish he could change these passive-aggressive behaviors and start taking my needs and desires more seriously. I know it is unfair to expect him to change, though. But I'm worried that if he doesn't, I can't be with him.


At this very moment, he is on the couch with a blanket over his head. He's been in the same position since I first posted this... just sleeping... all day. I have no idea how to interpret that, and I am not going to try. I have relocated some of my belongings into the guest room for now, where I will be staying.

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