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Unequal partnership with unwilling partner


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Curious how others here have dealt with unequal partnerships, where your S.O. seems unwilling to make things more equal?

For example, this is my own situation:

- I do all the driving. She can't drive, and she gets upset if I tell her it would be really useful if she learned. Most of the time this isn't a major issue, but it does have drawbacks, i.e. it restricts our choice of houses to less rural areas, means she has much less personal freedom and autonomy in general, and also makes me wonder what the future will be like. Will I be the only one who drives around our kids for example (if we have kids)? Am I going to be the designated chauffeur forever? To be honest, largely it's just the principle of the thing. It seems unfair that it's just being taken for granted that I'll always do the driving. She seems to be very confused that this bothers me, and says that it has never been an issue in any of her previous relationships.

- I pay all the bills. She sometimes does the occasional food shop... but I pay all of the utility bills, and everything towards the cost of the flat we live in (which I bought), all the council tax bills, service charges etc. She has been trying to get her own part-time business off the ground for the past several years, and I've supported her without complaint for probably 2.5 of those years. But now it's got to the point where I feel like this dynamic is being taken for granted and I'm enabling her. I don't care about the money so much as the principle.

- If we ever go anywhere or do anything, it's generally with my friends. She will very rarely go out to meet her own friends. I've suggested that she could meet more people and have more independence if she got a job of some kind, but generally she gets upset at this sort of suggestion. In fairness, she actually did apply for a job a couple of months ago, but either she didn't get it or she decided against it. I don't know which, as I'm scared to bring it up in case she gets upset with me for hounding her on this topic.

- Over the four year duration of the relationship so far, she has never told me she loves me. At least not without prompting - which is the last thing I want to be doing. I told her I loved her early on in the relationship, but soon realised she wasn't ever voluntarily saying it herself. As a result, I don't feel like saying it myself much anymore.

- She rarely initiates sex. I could probably almost say "never". She has explained this goes back to various issues in her past, but it makes me feel unwanted if I'm being honest. This is the least passionate relationship I've been in personally.

If I raise any of the above things (which feel like they might be connected) she gets really upset, or will go into silent mode, or will just stare at me blankly as if I'm making unreasonable demands on her. She suggests that I need counselling, tells me not to take out my depression on her, or tells me that I must be annoyed about something else. In the meantime, it's as if my feelings have been completely invalidated. Feeling a bit stuck at this point.

Edited by fahrenheit
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1 hour ago, fahrenheit said:

 S.O. seems unwilling to make things more equal?

How long ago did you ask her to move into your flat? How long have you been living together?

There's quite a long list of complaints.

You're trying to fix and change her, why?

Did she have a job, car, friends or say ILY or frequently want sex before you installed her in your place?

When you set out to completely change who someone is you're running a fool's errand.

You come off as if you're the welfare department. But why is she in your house?

You are nagging her to be what you want. Not to be more equal.

Either ask her to move out or stop lording over her.

Edited by Wiseman2
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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, Wiseman2 said:

How long ago did you ask her to move into your flat? How long have you been living together?

There's quite a long list of complaints.

You're trying to fix and change her, why?

Did she have a job, car, friends or say ILY or frequently want sex before you installed her in your place?

When you set out to completely change who someone is you're running a fool's errand.

You come off as if you're the welfare department. But why is she in your house?

We've been living together probably three years at this point. Yes, it's becoming a long list I suppose. I don't feel great about that.

I'm not trying to change her, but rather trying to understand her. I don't want to believe that she's just freeloading and taking advantage of me. It has begun to feel as if she expects and actually prefers the inequality. If that's the case, I don't think I can continue the relationship unfortunately.

She used to have a job. She actually quit her job just before she moved in with me as she didn't like it. 

I didn't realise that she had so few friends until about a year into the relationship. It doesn't seem to bother her much, in the same way that it doesn't seem to bother her much that I pay for everything and do all the driving etc.

Edited by fahrenheit
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How have I dealt with things like this? 

At some point Fahrenheit, you have to be willing to see the situation for what it is.

Based on what you wrote this woman is your child not your parnter.  

What does she bring to the relationship? 

Materially, emotionally, physically it's all you.  And it sounds like she knows exactly how to control things so that it never changes. 

Why would she? No job, no bills, no responsibilities... that sounds great.  except that it's completely despicable.

Maybe she had no friends.  Sounds like she doesn't have much to offer anyone. 

Why are you holding on to this relationship? 

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What is her "part time business" -is it one of those MLMs?  I don't drive.  I got my license at age 49, am 55 now.  I drove with my husband in the car prior to getting my license and after and then stopped.  First because I'm scared of it here, in this busy city that's gotten far worse with traffic, accidents and road rage.  Second  - we live in a city -I very very rarely depend on my husband or anyone else for driving.  I do all errands on foot.  Before covid, I took my son by walking or public transportation and later uber to his after school/weekend activities.  Not a far distance.  I depend on no one else to drive me around. Over the years friends offered to take my son along with their kids for the 10 minute drive to Sunday school.  I took up on that offer for awhile -it was totally fine - I reciprocated with non-driving favors. 

My husband is not a morning person.  I do all school mornings.  He takes the bus.  Because I don't drive we've missed the bus zero times in 5 years.  My husband drives him a handful of times per year if bus doesn't come.  Neither of us want to live in the suburbs.  But if we had to live in the suburbs for his job -meaning relocate -yes, I would drive in a suburban neighborhood.  Local driving. 

I write all this because I am tired of the assumption that being an adult requires driving.  My 86 year old mother never drove.  My father drove.  He didn't chauffer her or us around either.  Because we lived in a city.  My older sister drove for a few years and then gave up after an accident.  4 kids in a suburb.  Her husband didn't chauffer her around either.

A person who wants to do her part doesn't have to drive unless she also wants to live in a suburb -or rural area where a person must drive (where uber is way too expensive, or hiring sitters/nannies to drive won't cut it).  I'm really glad I went through the torture of getting my license.  It's good to have. 

Your girlfriend however needs to woman up and if she won't drive then you don't drive her either.  Drive her if it's for you too.  Otherwise tell her she'll have to earn her own money to afford uber/lyft.  Or to pay her friends to chauffer.  Or get a bicycle.  If you really want to live in a rural area then this is not the person for you, the end.  Does she or is it you?

As far as her job - time for her to woman up -this part time business sounds like it doesn't sustain her so it's a hobby. Hobbies are cool for people who work to make money and have time for hobbies or volunteer work. 

I was a SAHM for 7 years.  My husband was absolutely on board with being the main breadwinner.  Except I'd saved a lot of $ before that decision so I insisted on paying half the rent plus some other expenses from my assets.  Because it made me feel better about things -not because he wanted it. 

I think a better match for you would be someone like me lol - I have a strong work ethic and I worked full time as a SAHM (and then some- no family help either) -but I also was an adult who wanted to continue financially contributing.  When I went back to working outside the home, we talked about what the boundaries were given our child -whether full time or not, whether telework or not, etc. 

Communication between two adults who both desire to do their share (this is key!!) is essential.  My job is the best fit for me -but just as important -for my family.  I need to feel I am contributing financially but also with my brain -meaning part of an equal partnership is being independent and having work (even volunteer work, or child raising) you are passionate about  and having conversations with your spouse or partner that are enriching in some way.  Being well read if you both are into that, being up on current events if you both are into that. 

Two adults who are independent but come together not in a needy way (with some exceptions) but to spark each other and enhance and complement each other.  She sounds like a needy leech.  And her not driving is symptomatic of that - unlike people like me who don't drive but make their way in the world more or less independently as the default.  

Good luck.

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I would also have to ask what does she offer to the table? Because you work for her and chaufeur her around, pay her bills and she doesnt even offer some love and intimacy back. In the other words, why do you endure somebody like that? She is pretty, isnt she? Is that it? 

I am asking because some people, well, they think they dont have to offer anything back but to just exist. Somebody else will pay their bills and take care everything for them, they can just kick back and relax. So they dont need to try. To find a job, to do stuff around home, to offer love back etc. Because other person will just give them all they need anyway so why try? And I am sorry, but all of that is on you. I will try to explain it through education of kids. When child is little and wants a brand new toy in the shop, its up to the parents to establish the boundaries. Child doesnt understand the concept of "No" and thinks the world revolves around them. So if you dont have money you would have to explain to the child how you cant buy a toy. Child can kick or scream but its a fine teachable moment that it wont get everything when it wants. If you still buy it, it wont learn. So next time it will ask for another, and another etc. And that it cant just get that toy because its a child. Well, in this situation you are the parent. You provide everything for her, and she doesnt have to offer anything back. Why should she get a job when you earn for her? Why should she drive when you can drive her? Why should she try in bed when you love her anyway? What I am trying to say is, this is entirely on you. And I am afraid it wont change and that its kinda late to "fix" her habits now. You got her used to a certain lifestyle, now you either endure that, or leave. I would recommend second. Because you dont seem to happy with the arrangement you have there.

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2 hours ago, fahrenheit said:

We've been living together probably three years at this point. Yes, it's becoming a long list I suppose. I don't feel great about that.

I'm not trying to change her, but rather trying to understand her. I don't want to believe that she's just freeloading and taking advantage of me. It has begun to feel as if she expects and actually prefers the inequality. If that's the case, I don't think I can continue the relationship unfortunately.

She used to have a job. She actually quit her job just before she moved in with me as she didn't like it. 

I didn't realise that she had so few friends until about a year into the relationship. It doesn't seem to bother her much, in the same way that it doesn't seem to bother her much that I pay for everything and do all the driving etc.

There are individuals who don’t have an issue with this set up but you do.

You know the whys and listed them. She doesn’t drive because she doesn’t want to and it’s not been an issue in the past in other relationships. She has fewer friends because she’s comfortable being on her own or leading a quieter life. She doesn’t have a job because she quit the last one. 

Your sex life together isn’t great because it sounds like both of you are perpetually stressed.

Half the problem is you if you’re not willing to end an incompatible relationship that’s not for you. You’re part of the problem but you can also be the solution and part ways. Try to avoid armchair diagnoses for mental health beyond what she’s told you. 

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2 hours ago, fahrenheit said:

I don't want to believe that she's just freeloading and taking advantage of me. 

But you do believe this. You've believed it for 3 years since you installed her in Your place and she quit her job.

Her friends? That's nitpicking. Her job, well you have enabled her "home business". Driving? She did not drive or have a car when you installed her in Your place. 

She doesn't cook, clean, do errands or chores? Or are you leaving that out? As far as paying off your mortgage with no commitment, well draw up a lease, that both of you sign and ask for a monthly payment for rent.

You're just ranting on and on about all her faults, yet something must be missing from this story because You installed her in Your home 3 Years ago without a job, without a car and now it all bothers you? 

 Are you from different cultures or socioeconomic or educational backgrounds? Do either of you have kids? How old is she? Are you about the same age?

Edited by Wiseman2
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Posted (edited)

Yes, she is pretty. She is also very kind and soft-hearted in general. She makes me laugh, and we have a similar sense of humour about many things.

I suppose the issue is that she is more inclined to be passive in most areas of life (prefers to be driven around than to drive, prefers not to get a job she might not like, prefers me to run our social life, prefers to wait for me to initiate sex than initiate it herself, etc). It’s a lack of passion and drive I suppose.

Yes, these things are really beginning to get to me. I have tried hard to understand why she isn’t interested in things being more equal, but I haven’t received any sort of convincing answer. Usually she just tells me I’m being unreasonable, gets really upset, or stares at me blankly like I’m speaking an alien language.

To Wiseman2:

I think there is such a thing as someone revealing themselves to you over time, particularly if they’re introverted, as is the case here.

I was aware of some of these things before I “installed” her in my place (not the way I’d put it), but I felt that some of these things were likely to be circumstantial. For instance, in a capital city with subways and loads of public transport available 24/7, lots of people choose not to drive. I learned to drive shortly before we both left said capital city.

Edited by fahrenheit
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1 minute ago, fahrenheit said:

prefers to be driven around than to drive, prefers not to get a job she might not like, prefers me to run our social life, prefers to wait for me to initiate sex than initiate it herself.

You want to remake her. It's that simple. You expected to fix and change her into someone who is more aggressive and driven.

Well she wasn't that when you asked her to move in. She was exactly what you are seeing now. So you are the one changing the goal posts.

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, Wiseman2 said:

You want to remake her. It's that simple. You expected to fix and change her into someone who is more aggressive and driven.

Well she wasn't that when you asked her to move in. She was exactly what you are seeing now. So you are the one changing the goal posts.

I know this isn’t about you, but you seem to not realise that couples don’t necessarily know all there is to know about one another before they move in together. Sometimes, this might be something simple. Other times, it might be something more significant.
 

Not getting to know each other inside-out before moving in together is probably one of the reasons 50% of relationships fail. Part of the problem here is that our society very much values “moving to the next level” in relationships, such that this often happens prematurely.

My goal posts have never changed. What starts off as a small question mark in a relationship isn’t always a gigantic red flag - at least not until it becomes apparent that it constitutes part of a wider pattern of behaviour. Again, see above for why this usually isn’t spotted straight away in most relationships.

Edited by fahrenheit
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14 minutes ago, fahrenheit said:

couples don’t necessarily know all there is to know about one another before they move in together.

Yes, but these have been problems for the duration of the relationship (or at least more than 50% of it):

  • She didn't drive when you met her.
  • You've been supporting her since she moved in
  • She never told you that she loves you
  • She almost never initiates sex.

Why did you think she would change?

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4 minutes ago, Seraphim said:

You are looking for someone intrinsically different than who you are with. She isn’t going to morph into that. You need to break up and find the person you need. You want an equal, so go find that .  

Agreed.

Thanks for all the replies, has given me a lot to chew on.

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17 minutes ago, Jibralta said:

Yes, but these have been problems for the duration of the relationship (or at least more than 50% of it):

  • She didn't drive when you met her.
  • You've been supporting her since she moved in
  • She never told you that she loves you
  • She almost never initiates sex.

Why did you think she would change?

Fair points. I guess I’m the type to try to give people a chance for as long as absolutely possible. 

But eventually, tactful discussions have descended into bitterness… over a year or two of hoping it would grow into a mutually supportive relationship.

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I would have left a long time ago. It has been clear for a while that she doesn't really care if she contributes, even feels entitled to someone else taking care of everything for her. Like Kwothe28 said, some people think just existing gives them rights to not having to do anything. 

Question is, why have you stayed? Why did you pay her way? Comfort? Scared to be alone? Don't really want someone who is on the same footing as you? You can say "I couldn't know" but there's something in you that finds this attractive, even if it's hard to recognize that in yourself. Figure that out and you'll never get to this point again where you have to ask this. 

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2 minutes ago, itsallgrand said:

I would have left a long time ago. It has been clear for a while that she doesn't really care if she contributes, even feels entitled to someone else taking care of everything for her. Like Kwothe28 said, some people think just existing gives them rights to not having to do anything. 

Question is, why have you stayed? Why did you pay her way? Comfort? Scared to be alone? Don't really want someone who is on the same footing as you? You can say "I couldn't know" but there's something in you that finds this attractive, even if it's hard to recognize that in yourself. Figure that out and you'll never get to this point again where you have to ask this. 

Yes… I agree with you. I had a very loveless childhood and this has always affected my choice of romantic partner.

Basically I’ve been scared to ask for much more in a relationship other than simple kindness… and a partner who won’t abandon me.

It’s all quite deep-rooted psychological stuff that I only realised about a year ago through fairly intense therapy sessions.

And yes, as such it is certainly partly my own fault for choosing someone who wasn’t a better match to begin with.

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I think you two are really incompatible and that you enable her to freeload in YOUR place by paying bills, taking care of everything, and being her chauffeur.  Either she is scared to learn to drive or she doesn't want to because she is not actually required to do so, as you will take her where she wants to go.  No job?  She needs to get off her butt and get at least a part time job.

I personally would not put up with a freeloader which is how I see her.  You are setting yourself up for an unhappy life if you keep on with this.

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14 minutes ago, fahrenheit said:

Yes… I agree with you. I had a very loveless childhood and this has always affected my choice of romantic partner.

Basically I’ve been scared to ask for much more in a relationship other than simple kindness… and a partner who won’t abandon me.

It’s all quite deep-rooted psychological stuff that I only realised about a year ago through fairly intense therapy sessions.

And yes, as such it is certainly partly my own fault for choosing someone who wasn’t a better match to begin with.

OK, that's good that you are working on this. Are you still in therapy? Your therapist could probably help you in exiting this situation. 

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1 hour ago, fahrenheit said:

I guess I’m the type to try to give people a chance for as long as absolutely possible. 

And in doing this you have created this situation.

I also see you've written you want a partner who won't abandon you.  So again, you created this situation.  Do you see that?  You deliberately chose someone who depends on you, then complains that she depends on you.  That makes no sense.

Think honestly about this:  If she became independent, started driving, got a full-time job and started seeing friends would you complain she never has time for you?  Would you find all those things threatening to your relationship with her?

Edited by boltnrun
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1 hour ago, fahrenheit said:

Part of the problem here is that our society very much values “moving to the next level” in relationships, such that this often happens prematurely.

What starts off as a small question mark in a relationship isn’t always a gigantic red flag

Moving in together is a convenience, usually sexually and financially. Or a test drive. You are not committed to her and you know this, but you have easy access to sex and someone around. 

You knew very well that she was introverted, demure, didn't drive, didn't have a car and quit her job BEFORE you asked her to move in.

It's not a "next step', particularly when as you two did asked her to move in within a year. Society does not drive this, You did.

 It becomes a 'red flag' when you have unrealistic expectations that someone will completely change to your specifications. 

Sorry but this is all on you and your expectation that someone will morph into what you need them to be rather than who they are.

 All you can do is giver her notice to move out stating that she did not meet your expectations of getting a job, car, license, more friends and all the other gripes on your list.

Edited by Wiseman2
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7 minutes ago, boltnrun said:

And in doing this you have created this situation.

I also see you've written you want a partner who won't abandon you.  So again, you created this situation.  Do you see that? 

Think honestly about this:  If she became independent, started driving, got a full-time job and started seeing friends would you complain she never has time for you?  Would you find all those things threatening to your relationship with her?

Yes, I do see that (as I mentioned above in the same post you’re referencing). That is not to say that that’s the first thing I’d look for now. It was more important to me than it should have been, due to past trauma (again, mentioned above).

To address your last point… you’ve described what I want from a relationship. I don’t think I’m wired to be jealous of the time a partner spends with their friends - to the contrary I love it when they have an active life outside the relationship.

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10 minutes ago, Wiseman2 said:

Moving in together is a convenience, usually sexually and financially. Or a test drive. You are not committed to her and you know this, but you have easy access to sex and someone around. 

You knew very well that she was introverted, demure, didn't drive, didn't have a car and quit her job BEFORE you asked her to move in.

It's not a "next step', particularly when as you two did asked her to move in within a year. Society does not drive this, You did.

 It becomes a 'red flag' when you have unrealistic expectations that someone will completely change to your specifications. 

Sorry but this is all on you and your expectation that someone will morph into what you need them to be rather than who they are.

 All you can do is giver her notice to move out stating that she did not meet your expectations of getting a job, car, license, more friends and all the other gripes on your list.

I appreciate your replies, but I don’t think you’ve got an accurate handle on this. Thanks all the same though.

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1 hour ago, fahrenheit said:

Fair points. I guess I’m the type to try to give people a chance for as long as absolutely possible. 

In a serious long term relationship where you're thinking of children - and all this is going on -or are you passive too and don't want to be "alone" or rock the boat? Sure we give people a chance for as long as possible in a number of situations - but in a long term relationship - don't give yourself an out with these broad generalizations where you justify/compliment yourself about how "nice" you are - be really specific -in light of all of this ridiculousness what does "chance" mean or as long as absolutely possible? When would it not be possible?

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41 minutes ago, fahrenheit said:

Yes, I do see that (as I mentioned above in the same post you’re referencing). That is not to say that that’s the first thing I’d look for now. It was more important to me than it should have been, due to past trauma (again, mentioned above).

To address your last point… you’ve described what I want from a relationship. I don’t think I’m wired to be jealous of the time a partner spends with their friends - to the contrary I love it when they have an active life outside the relationship.

But since you created this situation in the beginning, how is it that you can reasonably expect her to "change"?  What you wanted in the beginning isn't what you want now, but you can hardly blame her for that.

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