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DrJackiePhD
DrJackiePhD, Doctor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 341
Experience:  I have been doing research in relational/interpersonal communication since 1998. My Ph.D. is in interpersonal communication.
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I have been in a relationship with my bf for 3 years and we

Customer Question

I have been in a relationship with my bf for 3 years and we go along fine for a while but the same old issues always come up and cause a lot of friction. I guess we have both hurt each other terribly at times and on my part even though I feel it should be over I forgive over time and we get back together and eventually have issues again. On my part the issues are lack of commitment, talking about future, him changing his lifestyle. On his part he does not like me when I drink in public as I become more outgoing, outrageous, loud etc. I know I have a drinking problem where I do not stop at one and get carried away with the socialising aspect. I have always had this problem and have intentionally kept away from situations where this can arise. The issue for me is that his lifestyle is about going to the club just about every afternoon/evening. This is his only social life. He handles his drinking better than I do and drinks to excess but does not change personality. I don't drink a lot - I'm just a cheap drunk. 5 glasses of wine is my limit at any time. Generally, this would be two evenings a week because the only way I can have a social life or see him is to meet him on his turf. I have continuously tried to get him to get this but to date he has not offered to modify his lifestyle to accommodate this problem. The other night I think our relationship hit rock bottom. He blames me, I blame him. I met up with him at the club as is the usual pattern. I can either meet him there or wait until he gets home and just hang at his house while he falls asleep. He said after an hour and a half that we had to go as we had agreed on that earlier. We had not discussed this at all and depending on the mood or whatever of each of us, one or the other accommodates the wishes of the other on whether we stay a little longer or go. I was annoyed again at him because he tried to say that we made a decision together whereas what had really occurred was that he had had enough and decided I had to have had enough too. I was not happy with that and said I was not ready to leave. I was on my third glass of wine at this stage and it was only 6 o'clock in the evening and I was talking to friends and having a nice time. He was annoyed and walked home even though he had driven my car up so that he could drive home. As he left he told me that I was not to ring him for a lift later or expect to stay at his house (we do not live together - I live half an hour away). So I said fine, I would get a cab home and sort my car out later. An hour and a half later when I had had two more wines I contacted him and asked if he was prepared to rethink his behaviour and pick me up. He ranted and raved and I didn't really get an answer. I tried unsuccessfuly to get a cab but when I was not able to I decided to stay in my car until I was able to drive. I slept in my car in the car park of a club until 1.30 am and then drove home. I cannot believe he would leave me in that situation. He does love me and I know it but when he wants to make a point he makes a fool of himself and me. I think this is rock bottom. I don't know how to see this. Do people who care about each other do such things? I cant believe he would do that. He hasn't rung to see if I am OK and I certainly haven't rung him. What's going on with this relationship?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  DrJackiePhD replied 2 years ago.

DrJackiePhD :

Hi, I'm Dr. Jackie, and I'm here to help if no one else is already helping you.

Expert:  DrJackiePhD replied 2 years ago.
I would like to help, and I thank you for your detailed information since this is extremely helpful. I can get back online to help if you want to chat or I can help you through email (Q&A). Please let me know which you prefer.

Best,

--Dr. Jackie
Customer: replied 2 years ago.


via email thank you.


 

Customer: replied 2 years ago.


I've had no response yet except for you to ask me if I want online help or emails.


 


How long am I expected to wait for a reply to my question?


 


Debbie


 

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Relist: Other.
I have not received a reply to my question yet.
Expert:  DrJackiePhD replied 2 years ago.
Hi There,

First, thanks for replying. :-) Second, I like many experts on here, probably are not glued to our computers 24/7. It's only 7:19 a.m. EDT as I write this, and I did have to get my children up, feed them, get them on the bus, etc. I am working from all morning and will be back and forth and can even chat but there may be a gap if we do Q&A.

I am sorry if that was not clear, and I'm not offended at all if you would like to chat/email with someone who might be more glued to their PC. Please let me know if you would like to proceed. Either way, best!

--Dr. Jackie
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

 


Sorry if I have appeared rude, but I was not aware that online experts are home based. I understand the juggling act. I appreciate any advice you can offer me.


 


Drow

Expert:  DrJackiePhD replied 2 years ago.
I didn't think you were rude at all. I just wanted to explain how this thing works for a lot of us. I'm here now and if you want to reply, I'll try to address what you have shared so far.

Please don't pay anything yet/further until you have your answers. :-)

==Dr. Jackie
Customer: replied 2 years ago.


OK

Expert:  DrJackiePhD replied 2 years ago.
I didn't think you were rude at all. I just wanted to explain how this thing works for a lot of us. I'm here now and if you want to reply, I'll try to address what you have shared so far. Please don't pay anything yet/further until you have your answers. :-) ==Dr. Jackie

For now, I just re-read what you wrote. Wow--you have certainly tried a lot of different things in order to help the relationship. I am wondering if you could make a list of what you believe your bf has done to "help the relationship." I am reading your account and I appreciate that you have indicated what you perceive has hurt the relationship--his irritation with you drinking, for example. I see your list of things you have tried. For some reason as I write on this screen, I cannot see what you wrote, so this next question is from memory--Have you sat and really analyzed your relationship from a cost/benefits ratio perspective?

What I mean is that many of the relationship scholars over the past 4 decades or so ascribe to a set of theories known as "Social Exchange Theories." What this means is that they believe you can better analyze your relationship when you try to look at it as objectively as humanly possible--like you would rate a business success or failure--by costs vs. rewards. That is, you would need to look at what you are putting into the relationship (time, effort, money, etc.) and then what you are getting out of it (joy, satisfaction, love, monetary rewards, etc.). If your costs outweigh your benefits, then you are in an unsatisfying relationship. And just the opposite holds true--if your personal beliefs that your rewards are more than your costs, then you are satisfied.

One of my favorite social exchange theories actually looks at indicators of satisfaction in a bit deeper detail. That is, it forces you to consider all your past relationships (if you have them) and compare them to your current relationship. If your current relationship scores higher than any in the past, this is a plus for your current relationship. However, the comparisons do not stop there. The model forces you to consider hypothetical or potential relationships. This means that the pool of people you come into contact with regularly need to be considered--people you go to school with, people you may work with, any people in your social networks, people you might meet at church, etc.--you need to consider your attraction or potential attraction to any persons within any of the people in these circles. Now compare your current relationship to what you may imagine with one or more of these people in your circles. While this is hypothetical and probably harder to compare, at least try. Again, can you see yourself satisfied with someone you know from work; or as you look harder at your current relationship, are you more satisfied there?

I don't like to make judgments about someone's character based on a few paragraphs of text, but the fact that he would just "leave you to sleep in a car" until you were able to drive just does not set well with me. Real friends would not engage in that kind of behavior, so that makes me question how he perceives the relationship. I am very concerned that this relationship may be much more of a cost to you and I don't perceive you reaping a lot of benefits. Satisfaction in relationships in achieved when both parties are getting more out of the relationship than they are putting in. Again, do you think it would be helpful to make a list of what you see him putting into the relationship and what you think he is getting out of it and then do the same for you? I just am not gathering from what you have written that you are truly satisfied.

To answer what you had asked, again, I don't like to give direct advice but rather help people look and analyze their relationships in ways they probably have not done before. For you, it seems like this relationship is destructive to your satisfaction and even personality. If the two of you were to continue, I just don't see things suddenly turning around. You probably don't need me to cite research studies to support the fact that things are in a downward spiral, and downward spirals do not turn around by themselves. Something has to intervene--whether it's counseling, a break, a religious experience--something needs to happen or otherwise one cannot expect it to get better. Think of this analogy--unless you regularly change the oil in your car and maintain it, your car is only going to age and give you more problems without any kind of intervention on your part (or the part of your mechanic). That is the same with relationships. They have to be maintained just like houses, cars, honestly anything of value. We can't expect to "let them go" and that they will "get better" on their own.

Think about these things if you would and let me know if you would like me to share some more ideas/thoughts. If this is not helpful, I want you to be helped and will try another avenue, if possible.

Best,

--Dr. Jackie
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

 


When I weigh it up in my mind, I know I'm not satisfied and in fact am not getting all that I want from this relationship but I continually come back to the belief that it's my fault and if I just do what makes him happy then it will all work out. Even though at 53 and many relationships down the track I know that is not the way to happiness. I will put pen to paper tomorrow and do a cost/benefits analysis from an objective rather than emotional point of view and ponder on your advice and observations. I'll get back to you after that.


 


Thank you for your inciteful reply.


 

Expert:  DrJackiePhD replied 2 years ago.
I am so sorry that when you consider things, you are not satisfied. But I am glad to hear that you are going to sit down and analyze things. This is truly the best way I believe for you to really "see" your relationship. I can give you some tools to use, but only you can do the evaluating.

I will be available the rest of today except for a few hours and then tomorrow I have several morning appointments but should be available most of the afternoon and evening (East Coast Time). If you want to chat / email some more, I will try to help.

Best,
Dr. Jackie
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

 


Firstly, let me say that the behaviour where he abandoned me in the car park is not at all typical. He prides himself on being a good man, and he is. He would be totally humiliated if his mates or family knew he has done such a thing. But he has too much pride to apologise to me for it.


 


Well, I have been hard at work actually getting my thoughts out of my head and onto paper to analyse.


 


From my perspective I put into the relationship more than I get out of it. I believe he sees it as the same for him - puts more in than he gets out.


 


I also made a list of what I want from the relationship that I am not getting (long list) and did same from his perspective (another long list).


 


So on paper it appears that it's not a satisfying relationship for either of us. However, there is a real biggy on the plus side for me that I want to believe outweighs all the other stuff. I am physically scarred very badly from burn injuries when I was very young that have stopped me from being totally physically open with any past relationships, including marriage (father or my children). This man genuinely loves me physically despite this and is the first person that I have allowed to touch me in those places. I feel that he has freed me from a life time of feeling and looking damaged and has enabled me to accept my own body and accept that he is not disgusted by my physical scars (in fact in a funny sort of way makes me feel that he loves those scars as they are part of me and what makes me who I am).


 


So I have that absolutely wonderful gift he has given me, but I am not certain that it is enough to accept all the wrongs in the relationship. Maybe I am expecting too much in any relationship because of this need to be accepted physically. But that's a whole other issue!


 


But from his perspective I don't know if there is any wonderful thing that he sees in me that makes all the negatives worthwhile. There's nothing obvious that stands out to me and he has never expressed anything to me.


 


I guess I want him to feel that I am giving him something he has always longed for, but I don't know what it is, and I don't think it exists.


 


Just in response to some other points you made. Regarding my personality, he always says he is attracted to my personality, but that seems to be as long as it is not in public. The car analogy is a very good one and actually says a lot about him. He doesn't look after his car, he doesn't look after his house, he doesn't look after his pets (all the things that are of value to him). He lets it all just take care of itself, which of course it doesn't. He lives in chaos. He is not an acquisitive person, has not accumulated anything of value over his 47 years (he likes to drive a bomb, and the house is his parents). He works hard, pays his bills, and never asks or takes help from others, but has no ambitions or aspirations to achieve more or attain more. He just accepts things the way they are. So that's probably his perspective on relationships as well.


 


Drow

Expert:  DrJackiePhD replied 2 years ago.
I just checked and saw you left a negative rating. This makes me sad because helping you is my top priority. I was not able to respond to your last reply because I tried but the system would not let me--it had timed out. If you can leave me 24 hours, I will try to respond much faster than that and try to answer. Please reconsider the negative feedback until you open it up so that I am.able to reply to your last reply.

Thank you,

Dr. Jackie
DrJackiePhD, Doctor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 341
Experience: I have been doing research in relational/interpersonal communication since 1998. My Ph.D. is in interpersonal communication.
DrJackiePhD and 5 other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  DrJackiePhD replied 2 years ago.
Hi there,

Thank you so much for allowing me the opportunity to provide you with a fuller reply. What I'm going to do this time is copy and paste your entire last reply and then reply in all caps. I wish I could do this with different font/colors; but our system at this time only allows one font and size. So I will leave several spaces between each point and add a number in front of each of your paragraphs and then my response will only be a space below in all caps. Again, I know this is not the easiest to read; but hopefully it will help and it's about the best I can come up with now. And we have to work within our system. :-)




1.) Firstly, let me say that the behavior where he abandoned me in the car park is not at all typical. He prides himself on being a good man, and he is. He would be totally humiliated if his mates or family knew he has done such a thing. But he has too much pride to apologise to me for it.

THANK YOU FOR CLARIFYING THAT THIS BEHAVIOR IS ATYPICAL. HOWEVER, HE DID IT. AND WHETHER YOU ARE DEFENDING HIM INTENTIONALLY OR UNINTENTIONALLY, HIS BEHAVIOR DESERVES NO DEFENSE. IT'S NEVER OK TO LEAVE SOMEONE LIKE HE DID. I WENT BACK TO YOUR ORIGINAL POST--YOU DON'T INDICATE IF HE WAS INTOXICATED OR NOT, BUT EITHER WAY, IT DOESN'T MATTER. THE ORIGINAL INTENTION WAS TO DRIVE YOU HOME SO THAT YOU COULD DRINK, AND HE DID NOT HONOR THAT.

BAD BEHAVIOR NEVER GETS BETTER WITHOUT INTERVENTION. THAT IS, ONCE A RELATIONSHIP IS ON A DOWNWARD SPIRAL, LIKE WHAT I'M INTERPRETING, IT WILL ONLY CONTINUE UNTIL/UNLESS THERE IS INTERVENTION (I.E., COUNSELING, RELIGIOUS CONVERSION, ETC.) THINK OF IT THIS WAY--NOTHING OF VALUE EVER INCREASES WITHOUT MAINTENANCE. HOUSES, CARS, ETC.--EVERYTHING WEARS OUT/DETERIORATES AND WE CONSTANTLY HAVE TO CHANGE OIL IN OUR CARS, REPLACE PARTS, AND FIX AND REPAIR BROKEN THINGS IN OUR HOMES. I DON'T KNOW WHY WE BELIEVE THAT RELATIONSHIPS CAN JUST GROW AND BLOSSOM WITHOUT WORK. IT'S NOT TRUE, ESPECIALLY NOT FOR ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS. WITHOUT EFFORT INTO LITTLE ROMANTIC EXCHANGES LIKE DATE NIGHT EVEN AFTER BEING TOGETHER FOR YEARS OR COUPLES RETREATS OR WHATEVER YOU DO TO HELP REKINDLE IT, RELATIONSHIPS WILL DETERIORATE AND EVEN BURN OUT.





2.) Well, I have been hard at work actually getting my thoughts out of my head and onto paper to analyse.

From my perspective I put into the relationship more than I get out of it. I believe he sees it as the same for him - puts more in than he gets out.

I also made a list of what I want from the relationship that I am not getting (long list) and did same from his perspective (another long list).

AS YOU HAVE SAID, WHEN THINKING ABOUT AND ANALYZING YOUR RELATIONSHIP, YOU ARE COMING UP SHORT AND YOU HONESTLY THINK HE PERCEIVES THE SAME. THIS IS NOT A GOOD PLACE TO BE, AND YOUR STRUGGLES AND DISSATISFACTION ARE GOING TO CONTINUE UNTIL/IF/WHEN AN INTERVENTION OCCURS. ARE YOU WILLING TO CONTINUE ON THE SAME PATH? I TRULY BELIEVE THAT THE BEHAVIORS YOU HAVE DESCRIBED ARE ONLY GOING TO CONTINUE/ESCALATE BECAUSE THERE IS NOTHING PROVIDED TO CONVINCE ME OTHERWISE.

MY QUESTION TO YOU IS, CAN YOU LIVE WITH THIS? I KNOW THAT IF I THINK OBJECTIVELY (WHICH I KNOW IS HARD TO DO WHEN YOU ARE DEALING WITH LOVE AND OTHER FEELINGS AND INVESTMENTS OF TIME AND COMMITMENT AND ENERGY, ETC.), I WOULD NOT WANT TO LIVE THAT WAY...



3.) So on paper it appears that it's not a satisfying relationship for either of us. However, there is a real biggy on the plus side for me that I want to believe outweighs all the other stuff. I am physically scarred very badly from burn injuries when I was very young that have stopped me from being totally physically open with any past relationships, including marriage (father or my children). This man genuinely loves me physically despite this and is the first person that I have allowed to touch me in those places. I feel that he has freed me from a life time of feeling and looking damaged and has enabled me to accept my own body and accept that he is not disgusted by my physical scars (in fact in a funny sort of way makes me feel that he loves those scars as they are part of me and what makes me who I am).

IF YOU REALLY BELIEVE THAT THIS ONE FACTOR (AND I'M NOT DOWNPLAYING IT AT ALL OR BEING SARCASTIC IN ANY WAY--I JUST WANTED YOU TO NOTE THAT SINCE IT'S SOMETIMES HARD TO UNDERSTAND TONE IN WRITING ALONE WITHOUT HEARING VOICE) OUTWEIGHS THE BAD, AND YOU ARE WILLING TO FORSAKE ALL THE BAD, KNOWING THAT THINGS COULD GET WORSE...THEN YOU MAY HAVE YOUR ANSWER.

MY BEST TOOLS FOR LOOKING AT A RELATIONSHIP ARE WHAT YOU HAVE TAKEN TIME TO DO--WHICH I APPLAUD YOU FOR--AND I BELIEVE YOU TRULY HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT ALL KINDS OF ASPECTS OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP. HOWEVER, YOU ALSO NEED TO CONSIDER THAT IF YOU MAGNIFY THIS ONE ASPECT ABOVE THE OTHERS, THEN YOU ALSO JUST NEED TO REALLY THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU MAY BE GIVING UP OR KEEPING YOURSELF FROM. THAT IS, SOME SOCIAL EXCHANGE THEORIES I SPOKE ABOUT EARLIER ENCOURAGE YOU TO THINK NOT ONLY ABOUT THE COSTS VS. REWARDS OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP BUT ALSO ABOUT SATISFACTION ITSELF.

SATISFACTION IS MEASURED ACCORDING TO SOME RESEARCHERS BY COMPARING THE PAST RELATIONSHIPS YOU HAVE HAD, WHICH YOU HAVE INDICATED HERE YOU HAVE DONE, AND YOU COMPARE THEM WITH YOUR CURRENT ONE. YOUR SATISFACTION INDICATOR ON THAT LEVEL SEEMS TO FAVOR YOUR CURRENT RELATIONSHIP. THE SECOND PART OF THE SATISFACTION INDICATOR FORCES YOU TO THINK HYPOTHETICALLY ABOUT POTENTIAL RELATIONSHIPS; THAT IS, THINK ABOUT THE POOL OF PERSONS YOU INTERACT WITH AT WORK, IN YOUR SOCIAL CIRCLES, IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD, IN ANY OTHER CIRCLES (RELIGIOUS, POLITICAL, ETC.). ARE THERE "FISH IN THE SEA" THERE THAT MIGHT BE POTENTIAL PARTNERS? I KNOW THIS IS SO HARD TO CONSIDER BECAUSE IT'S ALL A BUNCH OF "MAYBES" OR "WHAT IFS." BUT EVEN SO, THINK ABOUT YOUR CONTACTS. ARE THERE PERSONS YOU KNOW WHOM YOU FEEL YOU MIGHT BE MORE COMPATIBLE WITH RELIGIOUSLY, POLITICALLY, PHILOSOPHICALLY, PERSONALITY-WISE, GOAL-WISE, ETC.? THEN AGAIN COMPARE AND REVIEW WHAT YOU ARE GETTING OUT OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP. ARE YOU SATISFIED?





4.) So I have that absolutely wonderful gift he has me, but I am not certain that it is enough to accept all the wrongs in the relationship. Maybe I am expecting too much in any relationship because of this need to be accepted physically. But that's a whole other issue!


YOU DO MAKE AN INCREDIBLE POINT; AND LIKE YOU INDICATE, IS THAT ENOUGH TO COMPENSATE FOR ALL THE "BAD"? ONLY YOU CAN ANSWER THAT. PLUS, I TRULY BELIEVE THAT UNLESS THERE IS INTERVENTION, IT'S ONLY GOING TO ESCALATE IN THE WRONG DIRECTION.





5.) But from his perspective I don't know if there is any wonderful thing that he sees in me that makes all the negatives worthwhile. There's nothing obvious that stands out to me and he has never expressed anything to me.

I KNOW WHEN YOU ANALYZE YOUR RELATIONSHIP, IT'S ALL ONE-SIDED OF COURSE. AND YOU ARE PERCEIVING WHAT YOU believe TO BE HIS FEELINGS. DO YOU THINK IT'S TIME TO JUST SIT AND DISCUSS THESE THINGS? IT MAY BE PAINFUL AND HUMILIATING AND NOT WHAT YOU REALLY WANT TO DO ON A FRIDAY OR SATURDAY EVENING, BUT IT IS PROBABLY THE ONLY WAY TO GET HIM TO CONFRONT HIS TRUE FEELINGS AND BELIEFS. UNLESS YOU ARE HOUNDING HIM EVERY WEEK ABOUT THE STATUS OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP (SOME PEOPLE, MOSTLY WOMEN, DO DO THIS AND IT ONLY SOURS THE RELATIONSHIP VERY QUICKLY), COMMUNICATION IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY, ESPECIALLY AT THIS JUNCTURE.



I guess I want him to feel that I am giving him something he has always longed for, but I don't know what it is, and I don't think it exists.

Just in response to some other points you made. Regarding my personality, he always says he is attracted to my personality, but that seems to be as long as it is not in public. The car analogy is a very good one and actually says a lot about him. He doesn't look after his car, he doesn't look after his house, he doesn't look after his pets (all the things that are of value to him). He lets it all just take care of itself, which of course it doesn't. He lives in chaos. He is not an acquisitive person, has not accumulated anything of value over his 47 years (he likes to drive a bomb, and the house is his parents). He works hard, pays his bills, and never asks or takes help from others, but has no ambitions or aspirations to achieve more or attain more. He just accepts things the way they are. So that's probably his perspective on relationships as well.

LIKE YOU JUST HAVE ANALYZED, YOU HAVE A LOT OF INSIGHT INTO HIS INNER FEELINGS AND BELIEFS. I REALLY THINK A CONVERSATION--ONE THAT LASTS FOR MORE THAN 5 MINUTES--IS NECESSARY AT THIS POINT. IF HE WOULD REFUSE, THAT WOULD LIKELY INDICATE A WILLINGNESS TO KEEP THINGS STATUS QUO, WHICH YOU JUST HAVE INDICATED THAT HE SEEMS COMFORTABLE WITH LIKE WITH HIS CAR, HOUSE, PETS, ETC.

IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT FOR ANOTHER 20, 30, 40 YEARS? I THINK THAT WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW IS SOME DEEP COMPARISONS AND A NEED FOR HIM TO VERBALIZE WHAT HIS PERCEPTIONS ARE.




I HOPE THIS HELPS A LITTLE, AND I'M WILLING TO CONTINUE RESPONDING. I HAVE SOME UNIVERSITY CLASSES TODAY BUT AM IN AND OUT OF CLASSES AND APPOINTMENTS AND AGAIN, WILL TRY TO RESPOND TO YOU IN A MORE TIMELY FASHION. I REALLY WISH YOU WELL AND HOPE YOU CAN MAKE THE DECISION THAT IS BEST AND RIGHT FOR YOU.

BEST,

DR. JACKIE
Customer: replied 2 years ago.


When I try to rate you this time I am asked to pay further money, so I think I will have to end this off now. Excellent advice thankyou. I will reflect more on it all and give myself a deadline to make a decision and act on it..


 


I am disappointed that the Just Answers process is so lacking in ease of use. You have truly been very helpful to me, but I will seek the assistance of a 'real life' counsellor next time.


 


All the best to you.


Drow


 

Expert:  DrJackiePhD replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your kind words. I really wish you the best and hope that as you seek someone to talk with face-to-face that s/he can further help you realize your full potential either in this relationship or in others in the future.

The system at JA might need to be updated, but the people here are wonderful. If you ever want to try us again...

Best,

--Dr. Jackie

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