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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 5111
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology helping with relationships
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Hello, not sure of the general procedure here, so Ill just

Resolved Question:

Hello, not sure of the general procedure here, so I'll just start...


What do you do when you're not sure if you love someone? I've been in a relationship with a girl for about six months now, and I'm debating leaving. I've always been bad at confrontation (I stayed with my ex because I didn't want to hurt her feelings too much).

Sticky part of this equation-early on in the relationship, I helped her get into a new house. I figured if I could get her out of her awful house, our relationship would improve (looking back, that was stupid, but...). Her credit was awful, so I ended up being the name on both the lease and the utilities. Now, I worry if I leave, she'll ruin my credit by not paying the bills (her ability to pay the bills in question by themselves is rather questionable). I'm 19 years old, and only work part-time during school, I can't handle paying for someone else's life!
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 11 months ago.

Dr. Mark :

Hi! I'll be glad to help you with this issue.

Dr. Mark :

It sounds as though you feel like you want to leave but are worried to leave because of the credit issue. Is that correct?

Customer:

Yes. This whole situation's gotten rather out of hand, but I'm not exactly good at...well, ending things when they need to. Last girlfriend had the same issue (just not to this extent).

Customer:

I feel like I'm being rather taken advantage of.

Dr. Mark :

Let's get the legal issues out of the way first, does that make sense?

Customer:

Makes sense.

Dr. Mark :

As for the utilities you would call the utility company and tell them that you've vacated the house and that you are no longer living there and so not responsible for the bills after the date you set. Okay?

Dr. Mark :

When is the lease up? And what will it cost to break the lease?

Customer:

I didn't know I could even do that. Dang.

Customer:

The lease is up December, and it's a hefty sum.

Customer:

Roughly around $700, I believe. Not much, I know, but I'm in college, I only work 20 hours for minimum wage...

Dr. Mark :

Okay. So this is where it will require you to step out of your comfort zone:

Dr. Mark :

You need to negotiate with her, meaning:

Dr. Mark :

You need to tell her that you want to move on and that she can either change the lease over to her name and take you off or that you will have to bite the $700. If it would help her, that you would help her with $200 for the next month after your name is XXXXX XXXXX the lease. What do you think?

Customer:

I couldn't afford the $700, at least not after all the money I gave up getting her into that house.

Customer:

Honestly, it's a matter of even if I get my name off, I'm still facing the fact that she'd eventually be homeless-no way she can afford that house without the support I've been giving (a large portion of my paycheck).

Dr. Mark :

Right. This is the second part of our discussion you're now touching on and starting:

Dr. Mark :

You are thinking like her parent, and this is not a healthy thing to do.

Dr. Mark :

She is responsible for herself and her life. If she needs to find housing, that is her responsibility, just like yours is your responsibility, right?

Customer:

Yeah, that makes sense, but damn, the idea is so awful...

Customer:

I don't want to be responsible for that!

Dr. Mark :

Right. You are not responsible. Why do you feel you are responsible for her?

Customer:

Because although she's a 39 year-old woman (yeah, it's weird like that), she's not able to live on her own...before I got us out, she was squatting in some god-awful place (I didn't know about it until long after we'd been together), and it just seemed so pitiful that I can't help but want to swoop in and fix things.

Customer:

It just seemed that without my intervention, things wouldn't change.

Dr. Mark :

Yes, I understand. You're a good human being and a good man. But you are trying to be her therapist and social worker, not her boyfriend. And this is where you are making a mistake and being manipulated by her.

Customer:

But isn't that part of what being a boyfriend is, to help her?

Customer:

I always figured that was kinda my job, as the partner.

Dr. Mark :

No, a partner, a boyfriend means being an equal, not a caretaker.

Dr. Mark :

It means that you give goodness and you receive goodness, not that you take care of the other person. That's a one-way relationship, like a therapist or a social worker. Do you see what I mean?

Customer:

Yes, I see what you mean. It's even more ironic, because I was in this same situation with my last (first) relationship. I keep getting pulled into these..

Dr. Mark :

Yes. Please remember: this happens to good people. And when a good person loses sight of the equality that is required for a HEALTHY relationship as a boyfriend/girlfriend, then he can be manipulated. I see this so often, and you need to know it's because you are a good man, but you need to know that being good is not everything, there is also balance. You need to receive as well as give. Does this make sense so far?

Customer:

Yes, it makes sense.

Customer:

And see now I'm in another bind: I've been considering seeing other women while I'm debating being with her.

Customer:

Not actually doing anything, per se, but maybe making a hint towards getting closer to others.

Dr. Mark :

You see, I'm concerned for you. Part of you recognizes you need to receive as well, so you are seeking another relationship. But you need to not act as if you don't have a right to be happy.

Customer:

Darn it, I want a relationship that's not depressing for once.

Dr. Mark :

You need to be able to say up front that you are unhappy and want to move on in your life and wish her the best. And then tell the landlord that the lease is reverting to her name, okay?

Customer:

Well, I always figured "take care of them, and they'll take care of you" but that's not working...

Customer:

Okay, so in terms of leaving, how do I do it? I've actually tried a few times, and her reaction wasn't...good.

Dr. Mark :

You do it by telling her and not making any explanations.

Customer:

She got rather hysterical and I remember the words "I'm not letting you go that easily" last time, although it ended up being promises that things would be better.

Dr. Mark :

In other words, you have a right to leave for your reasons.

Dr. Mark :

You can tell her that you're not happy in the relationship and you realize it's time for you to move on and you wish her the best. You don't make it a long dragged out goodbye.

Customer:

What about the promises that things will be better?

Dr. Mark :

You're not looking for that, are you?

Dr. Mark :

You're not looking for promises.

Customer:

I want to believe her, but it never turns out to actually be better for long...

Customer:

I think I'm just looking for reasons to leave by this point.

Dr. Mark :

Right. Remember: life is not lived by waiting for 100% certainty. Of course she might change, but...

Customer:

Odds are against it.

Dr. Mark :

Life is lived by saying, I've had enough and I've made my decision.

Customer:

Quite right. And so, if I were to find another girl, how would I prevent this from happening again? I'm starting to think this is going to end up being my main issue.

Dr. Mark :

Good insight!

Dr. Mark :

By watching to see when you are starting to want to give more in order to make things okay because you're not getting what you need from the relationship. When you're doing that instead of talking it out and saying, hey, my needs aren't getting met. Do you see how that would be?

Customer:

Because of my weird obsession with apparently being some damn white-knight figure to my girlfriends?

Customer:

It's always "ooh, I can fix this situation!" and it all goes downhill from there...

Dr. Mark :

Ooh, I'm impressed that you said that: yes the white knight syndrome is in play. The knight in shining armor. But that is not what real relationships are made of: they're about 2 people sharing and giving to each other and receiving from each other. Both getting their needs met. When you start feeling like you are putting your needs in the back drawer and starting to be the caretaker, that's the warning bell, right?

Customer:

And I guess I can start to pull away from it, reminding myself that "No, she's a big girl, remember what happened last time?"

Dr. Mark :

Exactly!

Dr. Mark :

She's a big girl; she's an adult; she is responsible for herself. I am a partner, not her caretaker, not her white knight...

Customer:

Damn straight. Maybe then I could start having fun in college, rather than taking on extra hours to take care of another person!

Dr. Mark :

Exactly. You will be looking back at this 10 years from now and being very grateful that you didn't let your whole college years go being someone's caretaker! Has this helped?

Customer:

Significantly, Dr. Mark. Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX getting a good rating :)

Dr. Mark :

Okay, I wish you the very best!


 


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Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 5111
Experience: Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology helping with relationships
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