I Have Lots of Doubts About a Great Guy. How Do I Decide Whether to Stay or Go?

I’m a 30-year-old straight woman. I was married at 21 and divorced at 28, then spent a bit of time on my own before meeting a man I really care for, but I’m uncertain how to face some decisions about the future. Here’s the data: we’ve been together 8 months. He is 36, kind and supportive toward me, extremely available, a therapist. Hilarious, deeply caring, gets my weird quirks, and the sex is incredible. He’s made it clear he wants a future with me. I adore him, and yet it feels like the list of things I would want to be different about him is too long. He often comes across as arrogant with others, which drives me NUTS. He can be an insufferable know-it-all. He is less financially responsible than me. Immature, in certain ways. Has ADHD and can’t seem to plan a date for us to save his life, even when I ask. He has a big personality, and I sometimes feel ‘small’ and less confident in his presence. Most of the activities we do together reflect his interests, which weirdly I have just started doing rather than suggesting my own activities for us. (Yes, I’m seeing a therapist.) He’s vegan and I’m not, and we’ve worked it out, but I wonder about what would happen if we had kids (which he has also said he is open to doing with me). Basically, I’m not sure if we have shared values. We don’t live together yet. I’m thinking of moving to a new city (I still live in my hometown and am desperate to get out). When I picture myself there, I don’t really see him with me. But I’m not sure why. Do I take the plunge and invite him? Or should I end it, because I’m a terrible asshole for having such overwhelming doubts about this basically great guy? 

Addie

On behalf of arrogant insufferable know-it-alls, you’re not a terrible asshole, Addie.

You’re just a woman who hasn’t met her husband yet. And that’s okay.

Your marriage took up your twenties. You certainly learned something from that.

Now, you’re in your first real post-marriage relationship and you’ve discovered that it’s…good, but not great.

This is the point where we need to distinguish between a great GUY and a great RELATIONSHIP.

This is the point where we need to distinguish between a great GUY and a great RELATIONSHIP.

For all I know, your hilarious, caring, sexy man IS a great guy, despite his flaws. But what I’m gathering from the tone of your email is that, as you’ve gotten to know him better over eight months, you’ve come to the unfortunate conclusion that he’s not a great guy for YOU.

Maybe he is for a day, a week, a month, or a year. But if you don’t see yourself with him long-term for whatever reason, that is some powerful data to pay attention to.

Listen, you ably articulated what you like and don’t like about this guy. No one – not even him – would be able to argue with your assessment.

Thus, it doesn’t matter if you feel like an asshole for passing him up and allowing him to condescend to another woman for the rest of his life; you’re doing the right thing.

Marriage isn’t about whether an individual guy is funny, kind, or great in bed, although, to be happy, you’ll have to get those needs met. Like I say in my free online training, marriage is basically about whether your respective puzzle pieces fit together seamlessly. From what you wrote, it sounds like there are a bunch of outstanding edges that are not meshing well, all which will drive you crazy if you ignore them now. I would tender the guess that you ignored a lot of things in your marriage as well.

Marriage is basically about whether your respective puzzle pieces fit together seamlessly.

Trust your gut, leave the guy, move to your new city, and find someone who makes you feel like the best version of yourself. When you do, I promise, you won’t need to write to a dating coach for guidance on what to do next.

 

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Kath

    @Addie, EMK gives some very wise advice here. Gosh, I wish I had a dating coach when I was 30. Like you, I had married at 21, divorced in my mid-20s. Went on to remarry-a good guy, just not a great one that fit well with me. Had two kids who are now grown, and I’m a second time divorcee. You’re 30!! Leave this guy because you don’t see him in your future; pack up and head to that new city and find yourself. Then once you are happier living there and meeting new friends, I’ll bet that positive energy will lead you to the guy who is the total package for you.

  2. 2
    Clare

    Wonderful, brilliant advice by Evan. These nuances are what I wish I had understood years ago, and especially when I got married, but I understand them now.

    Addie could have been describing my ex-husband word-for-word. My ex-husband whom I adored and still do to this day. He was (and is) a wonderful man, and a wonderful man – just not for me. He was caring, funny, charming, romantic. But he had pretty much every one of the flaws which Addie describes in her man (except being vegan and not being able to plan dates – my ex-husband was a fantastic date-planner). He was very arrogant (and admitted it), condescended to everyone, including me, and always seemed to make it his personal mission to let me know how misguided and incorrect my opinions and outlook on the world were. After a while, that alone drove us so far apart that I felt trapped and had to get away. He also was a prolific spender who spared little thought for tomorrow, while I am a meticulous budgeter. His financial habits used to keep me up at nights.

    He was a wonderful man, and I was happy to see him find happiness with someone else. But he taught me the value of this statement of Evan’s “marriage is basically about whether your respective puzzle pieces fit together seamlessly.” 

    I knew I needed to find someone who fit with me. That was the only way I was going to be happy in a relationship. A man could be the greatest guy in the world and still be totally wrong for me. And I also realized that my ideal partner would have flaws, but they would be flaws that I could live with and that didn’t drive me crazy.

    1. 2.1
      ScottH

      @Clare:

      “He was very arrogant (and admitted it), condescended to everyone, including me, and always seemed to make it his personal mission to let me know how misguided and incorrect my opinions and outlook on the world were.”

      How/why do you (still) adore a person who treats you like this?

      1. 2.1.1
        Clare

        ScottH,

        First, I was very young. Like Addie, I was 21 when we married and I had had quite a traumatic childhood. I was thrilled that a strong man had come along on his white horse to save me from all of that. I honestly didn’t even notice his extreme arrogance until I really started coming into my own and becoming stronger in who I was. It was only then that I started to notice the pushback from him, but it had been there all along.

        Second, despite his arrogance, he was an extremely kind, supportive husband in other ways. He supported me financially numerous times during our marriage and was always willing to do just about anything to make me happy. He planned wonderful dates and got me very thoughtful gifts. I remember once when we had an argument, he got me 72 roses to say sorry. He was very affectionate and loving. He continued to help and support me even after we got divorced – he was just always there. It’s hard not to adore a person like that – I just didn’t want to be married to him because he always made me feel wrong.

        1. ScottH

          I can relate to a lot of what you said.   Thanks for the reply.

      2. 2.1.2
        Clare

        I’ll never forget the first time I even thought about my ex-husband’s arrogance: I met one of his female colleagues for the first time (she and I became good friends), and she took me aside and said “How can someone as nice as you be married to him? He is sooo arrogant.” And she proceeded to relate a story where he basically accused her of not knowing what she was talking about, even though he was a newly graduated engineer and she had been working in the field for 8 years.

    2. 2.2
      GoWiththeFlow

      Clare & Addie,

      “He was very arrogant (and admitted it), condescended to everyone, including me, and always seemed to make it his personal mission to let me know how misguided and incorrect my opinions and outlook on the world were.”

      Oh boy!  I had one of those.  Like Addie’s, the relationship lasted about eight months.  By that time, I had stopped expressing opinions and was annoyed much of the time we interacted.

      Now I pay attention if a man is condescending to friends, acquaintances, or people, like wait-staff, that we interact with while together.  At the beginning, my ex was this way to others but always nice to me.  Eventually I got the same treatment.

      1. 2.2.1
        Clare

        The way it manifested for me was that always feeling that my opinions were wrong killed my attraction for him, and I stopped wanting to sleep with him, even though I have quite a high sex drive. I always felt like a small, insignificant person in his presence (like Addie’s boyfriend, my ex-husband had a very charming, larger-than-life personality) and it just pushed me away.

        I agree with you that if a man starts displaying condescending behaviour during the dating phase, it is definitely something to keep your eye on. In a few months, or maybe even sooner, that will be you.

    3. 2.3
      Karl S

       condescended to everyone, including me, and always seemed to make it his personal mission to let me know how misguided and incorrect my opinions and outlook on the world were.

      Dr John Gottman said the number one relationship killer is contempt, which is what you get when your partner thinks they’re superior to you.

  3. 3
    Sammy

    Wow, I’m so thankful I clicked on this blog entry today! My boyfriend and I have been seeing each other for about two months and I resinate a lot with Addie’s entry. We’re not exactly the same but have the potential to develop the same way – if that makes sense.

    I’m 28 and never married but I dated incessantly until him.

    We don’t do things he’s only interested in yet, but other than that, he’s also vegan, has ADHD, is incredibly intelligent, supportive, mindful, etc. I fear that the possibility for us to only do things he’s interested in is present but not inevitable. He’s already expressed interest in my community and interests, which are not the same as his at all, but we’re very different. Although we face many differences, being together is incredibly easy because we’re both very appreciative of the other person.

    I don’t think he and I are at the same place as Addie and her guy, but in an effort to give it our best chance, how can I assert myself properly to ensure we’re not always doing things he wants? Yes, I’m also in therapy. But I’d love some concrete examples of ways Addie and I can express what we want to our guys in a healthy way. For example, how would you recommend Addie goes about the issue of only doing activities in his interests? Should she just plan dates? Should she ask to go or do something very specific? Should she ask for a certain genre of activity and see how he responds?

    Do you have any videos or blog posts (I have a Love U subscription) about the “Imperfect Phase” of the relationship that Dr. Pat Allen refers to on page 162 of her book Getting to “I Do”?

    Thank you in advance! Addie, I hear you girl.

    1. 3.1
      Roxanne

      Evan has really good tips in his loveu program on how to talk to your guy. If he is your boyfriend Sammie then ask him. “Honey can we go to xyz today?” I wouldn’t have a “talk”. Just simply say “ooooh honey let’s go do xyz” or “I would love it if we checked out xyz today”. If he says no to you a lot and your always saying yes to what he wants then address it. “Honey I enjoy spending time with you but I notice when we do things together it’s often what you want to do. I would like to do things I want to do together as well. Can we also start incorporating my interests as well.” Saying it in a sweet way shouldn’t have to be a fight and if he is a good boyfriend I don’t see how he could say no. Good luck!

  4. 4
    Adam Smith

    I’m thinking of moving to a new city (I still live in my hometown and am desperate to get out). When I picture myself there, I don’t really see him with me. But I’m not sure why.

    There’s your answer.

  5. 5
    Harlowe

    It seems to me, when most women are conflicted over a guy, they always mention how great the sex is. To wit, Addie. The only positive things she mentions are superficial. Except kind and caring, but he’s truly neither of those after reading his negatives. This guy doesn’t sound great at all!! Oh, but the sex is incredible.

    Judas Priest…sex shouldn’t even be a factor on choosing a partner (unless that’s all you’re after). If you make sure you’re with a quality person, the sex is going to be great because you made a solid connection.

    And if the sex isn’t what you want, you’ll be able to discuss it openly.

    As an aside… ladies: Sam Kinison once said, “Women, if there’s something that really gets you hot, HOW ABOUT FILLING US IN AS TO WHAT THE F*** IT IS–WE’LL DO IT!!!”

  6. 6
    Helene

    Don’t choose the guy whose good qualities you like – choose the one whose bad qualities you can withstand! I say this as someone now in their 3rd marriage… Everyone has good qualities of some sort or another and these will not cause you a problem in your marriage, so essentially it doesn’t really matter what they are. It’s a person’s downsides – and your mutual ability to tolerate these in each other- that will make or break a marriage. I can cope with a guy who doesn’t earn much, but can’t cope with a high earner who gambles. I can cope with a guy who doesn’t cook, but not one who doesn’t eat – so no fussy allergy vegan gluten free types for me! It all comes down to knowing yourself and being realistic about what you can handle.

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