If Some Doomed Relationships Succeed, Couldn’t Mine?

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Hello, Evan:    

I loved your recent email about hanging onto a doomed relationship. Yes, I have been hanging on to a cheating casanova for FOUR YEARS!! (But Evan, he’s SO devastatingly handsome, and SO charming, and SO romantic, and SO attentive. He says ALL the sexy/sweet things every girl wants to hear. I practically swoon every time I get a text, a call or an email . . . . sigh.) Your emails have helped me enormously; with your no-holds-barred monthly reality checks, I am (gradually) extracting myself from his considerable pull on my heart (and libido :)).

Here’s my question: Do you think a compelling reason smart women hang on to guys who don’t put them first is because there are SOME instances — and, alas, we have all heard about them — where a guy DID reform, because he DID truly love his girlfriend, and when she gave him an ultimatum, or even just stopped giving in and started respecting herself and setting boundaries, he behaved better — because SHE took over the direction of the relationship in an assertive (but demure) way?

No.

I must admit, this scenario is what keeps me hoping against hope that if I could only conduct my own behavior in a firm yet loving manner, I could change HIS behavior and guide him toward treating me right. It IS possible, no? Unfortunately, because it IS possible (though not probable, I “know,”) I keep on trying. Maybe today I won’t cave in and have sex with him. Maybe today I will tell him he didn’t call for a date early enough and I’m busy Saturday night. Maybe today I will say, “I don’t believe a word you just said. Call back when you can be respectful.” If I can only stand my ground and respect myself, he will respect me and we will live happily ever after — RIGHT??

I would dearly love it if you would address this strongly-held belief — a hope we women in love with cheating guys hold so dear to our broken hearts. Thank you!! You are amazingly insightful and wonderfully wise. I really look forward to your emails.

–Elizabeth

No.

No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No.

No.

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Comments:

  1. 21
    deannie

    EMK, you really dish advice like the best of friends a girl could ever have. KUDOS!

  2. 22
    AllenB

    The OP talks about controlling the relationship and also controlling/changing him.   If only…if only… we can’t control another person, nor can we control the trajectory of a relationship, only the role we play in it. How the other person responds to our role is entirely in their control.   The trajectory of the relationship is the combination.

    Elizabeth, you seem to think if only you XYZ, then Mr. Lothario would ABC, implying his behavior is under your control if you can only find the right formula to manipulate him. That is what you are seeking, you realize?   You want to manipulate this person into living the life you want him to live.

    Your matter of fact language implies a world view which is simply wrong; that we can elicit particular behaviors from other people. The reality is we can communicate our needs, and the other person can either choose to change their behavior or not. We can deny or otherwise punish a person something they want in order to get a particular behavior and this sometimes works with children, but only when they are young and entirely at an adult’s mercy, and is not a foundation for a mutually caring relationship between equals.

    Your way of thinking is called co-dependence and if you do some reading on the topic you may recognize yourself being described in other relationships in your life (family, friends, co-workers etc.)

    Letting go of your belief that you can control others will be emotionally difficult because it is part of the foundation of your worldview, but your life will be much happier and more peaceful on the other side. Your control is an illusion anyway that you can’t count on.

    Reading Co-dependent No More is a good start.

    I wish you happiness and peace.

  3. 23
    Karl T

    This is my dream come true. May the shallowest of people end up with the biggest jerks!!   

  4. 24
    J

    Hi Elizabeth. Your boyfriend cares more about fucking other women than he does about making you happy. He enjoys them, he pursues them ( despite what he may say, his pants don’t unzip themselves) and he is an active, willing participant in the seduction.  
    That being said, say you put up the bs ‘I’m not taking it anymore stance’ and he falls for it and becomes dedicated to you. After 4 years of not giving much of a damn- yay? What have you won? A starring role in the next production of ‘I’m gonna make you respect my feelings’ ( cause yeah, he will find a new way to make you feel disrespected. That type of stuff doesn’t just go away). Maybe you can have a daughter and she’ll tell you when she grows up she wants a man just like her Daddy. But wait, that’s not good enough for her, is it? Then it’s not good enough for you either.
    I sympathize with the fact that you feel like he’s the only one. But he’s not. Before you move on, take some time to figure out why he is so much more important to you than *you* are to you. Get the bigger picture so he won’t be the first of many ‘cassanovas’, but rather an isolated incident. I sincerely wish you the best!

  5. 25
    faded jade

    EMK   (in the OP)         GREAT concise answer !
      
    Karl said in post #11
      
    Elizabeth said:  (original letter)
    “there are SOME instances – and, alas, we have all heard about them – where a guy DID reform, because he DID truly love his girlfriend,”
      
    I’ve heard of those instances, but they were all fictional.
      
    LOL Karl, I think I’ve seen some of those fairy tales on this very blog !
      
    AllenB said in post22
      
    “The OP talks about controlling the relationship and also controlling/changing him.   If only…if only… we can’t control another person, nor can we control the trajectory of a relationship, only the role we play in it. How the other person responds to our role is entirely in their control.   The trajectory of the relationship is the combination.”
        
    You have a point Allen, but you know what, there is so much BAD “stand by your man” advice out there.   I was in a horrible relationship and there was so much advice saying I could just turn it all around if I was willing to pay thousands of dollars for “How to get him Back” or some such BS.   I actually shelled out $35 for a “Get your man back” book, and most of it was tired old FASHION advice.   SERIOUSLY, like my dysfunctional relationship could be fixed with just the right shade of lip gloss or a new dress.   The author of this book also seemed obsessed with women wearing long ear rings, as if stud earrings or no ear wear at all can make or break a relatinship.     And this crap was supposed to be soooooooooooo enlightending ?       Uh-gee, I never thought to wear make up before how does mascara even work ???????   (I AM being sarcastic)     There is SO MUCH advice telling women that they CAN make a bad boy settle down with the right body language, the right word for word script, the right look or playing hard to get or trying to make him jealous.   What NONSENSE.   You can’t turn a cheater into a faithful partner with high heels, a hair toss, a little girl pout, or any other tail shaking maneuvers.     And the communication advice to sugar coat everything by starting every sentences with “When you do this, I fell that”.     A cheater isn’t going to change his bad boy ways because he heard the phrase ‘’ I feel betrayed when you bang other women” coming from   his “girlfriends” shiny pink lips underneath her batting eyelashes.     I even had girl friends tell me I should try to work things out with a chronic cheater.   (with friends like that who needs enemies ??????? )   So it si possible that Elizabeth has read a lot of BAD advice and is convinced that the right words, body language and hair style will turn a pig’s ear into a silk purse.   (it won’t)   When I was surfing the misinformation highway online I was starting to get FURIOUS at these sol called “experts” telling me how I should grovel trying to turn a jerk into a prince, and when I landed in EMK land it was so refreshing to see someone say “DUMP the jerk and find someone better” !!!!!!!!!
      
    Karl T said in post #23 “
      
    “This is my dream come true. May the shallowest of people end up with the biggest jerks!!   “
      
    What a mean thing to say !   You don’t’ know the OP, you don’t know if she’s “shallow” or just niave, or just way to much of a MAN PLEASER, and you are calling her misery a dream come true.   With your obvious hatred of women,   it wouldn’t surprise me if you die alone.   Not that it would make me happy, but it seems to me that YOU are one the biggest jerks !!! So I guess that means you want to end up with a shallow person.
      
      
      

  6. 26
    Henriette

    I have, occasionally, heard of casanovas reforming.   Here’s what usually happens:
      
      
    a. the guy undergoes something major (his mom dies; he goes into therapy; he finds Jesus; turns 50 yrs old… whatever) and changes the course of his life.   He stops screwing around, starts treating people with respect and DUMPS whatever “girlfriend” was letting him cheat on her.   He doesn’t want to start a new life with a woman whose mere presence constantly reminds him of the nasty piece of trash he used to be.   If he’s truly making a fresh start, that includes a fresh partner.
      
    or b.   he turns over a new leaf… for a while.   Then, he returns to his cheating dog ways.   
      
    In other words: no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

  7. 27
    Jenna

    Well, I gotta say: a friend was just telling me about a guy we work with who bitched about his girlfriend and was sleeping with 3 other girls in the first year they dated. I think she put her foot down, and in any case, they wound up getting married. They always post tons of happy pictures on Facebook.
    Of course this happens …. but we don’t know the full story for those couples. I mean, even though this couple I mentioned could be happy, is this really … ideal? Do you really want to wake up next to someone for the rest of your life that let you down before you were even married? Who maybe just got married because he was balding, all his other friends were getting married, he was struck by inertia, etc.? I’m a real believer in conscious, intentional love, not falling into stuff.

  8. 28
    Stix

      
    Building and maintaining personal boundaries and self respect is done for you. Period. If People in general start treating you better, that’s the cherry.  
      
    First step in building personal boundaries…
      
    Get yourself the fuck out of this situation. With real self respect you will not even want  to take a call from a man who so obviously doesn’t give a shit about how he treats you.

  9. 29
    starthrower68

    He might change but you’re gonna suffocate holding your breath waiting on him.

  10. 30
    Francesca

    oh wow she is really deluded.  
    I would also urge her to look closer at those “reformed” relationships. Has she really come across a situation where a man went from cheating spouse to loyal one? Really?
    I think what sometimes  happens is a guy meets a girl who he behaves for. However he does it right from the start of the relationship, he never cheats, never misbehaves for that girl.  

  11. 31
    Sparkling Emerald

    Lia@6 – That is kind of an ambivalent answer… So that would be a “no”?  
      
    LOL !   Yeah EMK should stop soft pedaling it and tell this OP what he REALLY thinks.
    Good to see you posting again Lia.   Haven’t seen you on this blog in a while.   I missed you !
      
      
      
      
      

  12. 32
    Deevra Norling

    LOL – Evan, your response cracked me up. Yep, there is nothing more to say but NO! That’s it – end of story. Lol.

  13. 33
    Frimmel

    Miranda in #9: re where did she say “good” guys don’t matter.
      
    This woman’s letter vindicates every “nice guy” TM who ever said women just want jerks. This woman’s letter vindicates “game.” She is asking for approval to keep dating a guy who treats her bad. A guy who is gaming her. He’s probably not cheating on her. He’s probably been very clear even aside from his behavior they are not exclusive. But she knows she can change him. This is the gal “ruining” it for the rest of you.
      
    He says ALL the sexy/sweet things every girl wants to hear. I practically swoon every time I get a text, a call or an email . . . . sigh.) …
      
    …I am (gradually) extracting myself from his considerable pull on my heart (and libido.)
      
    I couldn’t help but think of “Magnolia” and T.J. Mackey (as the stereotypical fictional example of a PUA.)
      
    “I’m Frank T.J. Mackey, a master of the muffin and author of the Seduce and Destroy system now available to you on video and audio cassette. Seduce and Destroy will teach you the techniques to have any hardbody blonde just dripping to wet your dock. Bottom line? Language. The magical key to unlocking the female analytical mindset. Tap directly into her hopes, her wants, her fears, her desires, and her sweet little panties. Learn how to make that lady “friend” your sex-starved servant.”

  14. 34
    Sparkling Emerald

    Frimmel #33 – “This woman’s letter vindicates every “nice guy” TM who ever said women just want jerks.”
    This letter gives jerk-wanna-be’s an excuse to be jerks.   As Evan says, your last relationship has nothing to do with the person you are dating now.   Neither does a letter writer on a blog.   This writer is one woman, true, there are lots for women like her, and there are men who stick around with cheating women, or stick with   women who are b****** and allow themselves to PW’d.   But there are lots of nice couples in the world who couple up with each other because they are a good match.   And lots of nice people who reject each other because they aren’t a good match. It’s called dating.    You can play that game, when you get rejected by someone, you can cry and bitch that they rejected you because you were so “nice”, and then decide to take it out the next girl (or guy) you date.         But you know what ?   That ISN’T nice, and if you are going to let rejection (or another woman’s insistence on staying with an douche canoe) be your ticket to jerk-dom, then you really aren’t a nice guy (or gal)   after all.   Just another jerk looking for an excuse.   Funny, how men (and women too) will piss and moan when they get rejected and scream “It’s not fair, It’s not fair”, but if that person is mid 20’s or older and has dated around a bit, you can’t tell me that THEY never gave anyone a rejection slip. (or just disappeared)   Probably reject a lot of “nice” people themselves, simply because the attraction wasn’t there, or the compatibility wasn’t there.   Nice people reject and get rejected on a regular basis.   The true measure of niceness is that you take it in stride, and don’t look for revenge on the next person you date.
    And don’t tell me you’ve never seen a guy with a hot babe, taking all kinds of crap from her, being her love sick little lap dog.   A total PW’d mess.   I’ve seen it, and it makes me want to b**** slap that girl for making our gender look bad.   But it certainly doesn’t give me an excuse to find some “nice guy” and treat him like dirt.   And I wouldn’t.   No one should be made the scape goat for anyone else’s relationship failures.

  15. 35
    JGirl

    Oh My.   Didn’t read all the responses..don’t have time before work..but this just hit home.   I just dumped a man like this, I knew he wasn’t right for me, but he said all the right things, did the right things..just enough to hook me.but not enough for me to fee secure.   

    We had an argument and 1 hour later, he is on a date (woman he ‘met’ on Plenty of Fish)….1 week later he is in a ‘relationship’ with her!   He told me ‘sorry, I was ready, really ready and you didn’t return my call on Friday’.   

    This type of man very rarely changes and if he does, it’s only because he wants to.   This man I was dating?   He had many girlfriends…claims he only slept with me, I was his first choice, but how do I know?   He said he wanted to be my one and only, but never once said I would be his one and only.   
      
    Oh…for a month or two this new woman will enjoy his 100% attention…but he will get bored or she will take a little too long to respond to a phone call…and the cycle will start again.
    Leave him alone lady!   He likes it like that and WONT change for you….he may   not ever change.

  16. 36
    Julia

    Frimmel #33
    I’m not going to even quote your comment. My take away is that insecure people seek insecure people. If this woman’s behavior is attractive to you or something you seek to invoke, it speaks volumes about you. No one healthy would act this way or would want to be with someone who acts this way.

  17. 37
    Goldie

    Frimmel #33 – it’s not often that I agree with every word of your post. I’d like it to go on the record that this is one such time 🙂
      
    Some other guy #1 – men that are “faithful, loving, and care about your needs” do matter to many, many women. A lot of us find these characteristics “devastatingly handsome and charming” in a man. Please don’t change.

  18. 38
    marymary

    Sparkling, 34
    Can  I should blame her for my bad relationships too?

  19. 39
    Marie

    @Frimmel – I agree with Sparkling Emerald.   It depends on what you mean by nice. Truly nice, kind people are that way because of deepseated character.   They’re not bothered by losing some perceived advantage because they took the high road, it’s just the way they are.   Then there’s the other kind of nice guy which I call the guy without balls.   He doesn’t have the balls to make any kind of decision or step up, so he gets beat by the people who do and then resents them for having an ability he doesn’t.   That’s not true integrity.   As for the jerks, why would you want to be a jerk?   Is it such a great thing to be a jerk so you can attract undiscerning women who would go out with jerks?   Do you really want those kinds of women?   If I were a guy I would say no thanks.   I am going to be true to myself and find the woman who will appreciate me for who I am.   It may take longer but I don’t care because I’m worth a high quality woman.   The jerks can have the fast food!!

  20. 40
    Frimmel

    #34 Sparkling Emerald: “This letter gives jerk-wanna-be’s an excuse to be jerks.   As Evan says, your last relationship has nothing to do with the person you are dating now. “
      
    The new person you’re dating is not the last person you were dating. But that doesn’t make you blameless. I want to be myself. I also want to succeed at dating. These things are not always complimentary to one another. So I’d darn well better understand which parts I am and am not responsible for.
      
    So you have to look at what succeeds and obviously something in this guy’s behavior works and you’ll probably find a lot of it described in the “game” literature.
      
    Most guys don’t want to be jerks but they do want to be successful and there is quite obviously a certain amount of jerk women will tolerate if you’re handsome enough and charming enough. One of my problems with “game” is how easy it can be even for Joe Average like me.
      
    I wouldn’t want to be the nice guy she dates as part of her gradual weaning herself from this guy. He’ll no doubt find himself paying for the date and a tepid kiss before she heads home to wait for the swoon inducing booty call text from this guy so she can insert vulgar sex act she’d never consider with the guy who paid for her meal earlier.
      
    A nice guy’s behavior might influence her choices but he can’t make them for her. So when she doesn’t respond to nice and the next girl and the next girl don’t respond to nice he’ll look for something he’ll have more success with.
      
    Elizabeth is probably attractive. A player like this guy appears to be wouldn’t keep her “in rotation” if she weren’t. She probably has plenty of orbiters she’s oblivious to in favor of a guy who is playing her because he knows better how to press her buttons. What lesson should those guys take? Be nicer or learn how to better push her buttons?

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