A Letter to Every Woman Who Is Struggling Thru a Difficult Relationship

A Letter to Every Woman Who Is Struggling Thru a Difficult Relationship
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I’m really struggling in my relationship. We have been together for 3.5 years and I just feel like something is missing. This is the only relationship I have ever been in and he’s the only man I’ve ever been with. First off, we have fought on every single milestone we’ve had together. Every anniversary, every birthday, holidays, etc. It’s always something. One thing I’m really struggling with is our lack of sex. I’m 27 and he’s 28, we only have sex maybe once a month and sometimes that’s pushing it. He says it’s because we fight so much and he isn’t attracted and doesn’t want to have sex with me when we fight. It’s really affecting me. Anytime I try to talk to him about it he just brushes it off or ignores it.

We also live with his parents. I keep asking when are we going to move out but he just doesn’t know. He hates his job and complains about it every day but does nothing to change it. He doesn’t try to look for another job or try to move up within his company. The other day I asked him what his goals are and he said he has none.

I think I started noticing these things when I met someone new at work. There was an instant attraction there. He is a hard worker, driven, motivated, and attractive. I instantly developed a crush on him. He even told a friend of mine that he likes me and that he would wait for me.

I just don’t know what to do? I have all these conflicting emotions. I love my boyfriend and his family is amazing and has done so much for me but my needs aren’t being met and I just want more. Is this normal to feel this way? I just don’t want to ruin what could be a good thing in hopes for something better.

Ren

Dear Ren,

This isn’t a good thing. There’s something better. Now go out and find it.

Since that’s all I have to say on that topic – seriously, that’s all I have to say – I want to extend this post to address my readers who are struggling with difficult relationships.

Right now, in front of me, I have reader questions from women dating these men:

Bachelor #1 “lost his job several weeks ago and since then he’s been distant ‘wants space/free time’. He’s said he’s not sure about marriage, and while we used to get together 2-3 times a week, now we see each other once a week.”

Bachelor #2 is “sometimes shy, spacey, hot and cold. He will read my messages and take hours to respond, or be online instead of replying to me. He is not direct…not particularly affectionate. Said to me that he doesn’t feel romantic with me but still visits me 1-2x a month. Part of me feels like he’s dragging me along until someone of his type comes in his life.”

Bachelor #3has not introduced his children one year into the relationship, and it feels like he’s stalling for some reason. Should I be worried about this? He’s already told me that he has no plans to remarry.”

Bachelor #4 “cheated on me, lied to me, and didn’t even tell me he cheated until 6 months after us being broken up. Now, we’re dating again and I he’s been lying to me about hooking up with his best girlfriend in the past.”

Bachelor #5 “just stopped trying and caring about sex. He was barely paying attention to me while we were having sex. I just wish he could satisfy me in every way, mind, body and soul. Which sometimes I feel like he’s not intellectually smart enough to understand. Not sure if I should just call it quits or keep fighting for what we have left.”

I don’t publish these letters because, honestly, what is there to say?

Every woman makes a point to say that he’s a good guy, he’s her best friend, they’re deeply in love, they’re trying to make things work, and they don’t want to give up.

And what do they get in return?

Relationships with selfish, emotionally unavailable, unethical, clueless, commitmentphobic men that continue to make them unhappy.

Well, I’m fucking sick of it.

If you feel the need to write me a letter asking for advice about what to do with your unique guy in your uniquely complicated situation, spare yourself the trouble.

I just posted five excerpts from five different women who – despite pretty obvious evidence – are in agreement that THIS is not the life they want to live.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, don’t write to me.

Change your situation.

There’s nothing stopping you.

Not your deep love with him. Not your long history with him. Not even your kids with him.

If you don’t trust your boyfriend…

If you don’t believe in your boyfriend…

If you don’t have sex with your boyfriend…

If you don’t share the same vision of marriage and kids with your boyfriend…

If you are not happy in your relationship with your boyfriend…

No matter how much you love each other and how much time you’ve spent “working” on things…

DUMP HIM.

Face it: if you had a car that only started half the time, you’d buy yourself a new car.

Your problems with him will INSTANTLY go away.

Sure, you’ll be scared. Sure, you’ll be lonely. But you will have rid yourself of the biggest problem that is currently plaguing you: your disappointing boyfriend.

Now that you’ve gotten rid of this drain on your energy, hope and spirit, you are free to reinvent your life with a better man in a better relationship.

One that is nurturing, supportive, and fun.

One that doesn’t require Googling answers and writing emails to a dating coach.

One that is simply EASY.

The fact is: good relationships don’t take work.

They take effort, like watering a garden, but they don’t take “work” like laboring in a coal mine or living through war or solitary confinement.

Almost all of the letters I receive are from women in relationships that should put out of their misery. These women don’t need couples counseling. They need new partners.

Yet these women are deathly afraid of change – the fear that they will be alone, the fear of dating, the fear that this is the best it gets.

It’s not. If it were, you’d be happier and you wouldn’t be writing to me.

Face it: if you had a car that only started half the time, you’d buy yourself a new car.

But when you have a relationship that makes you happy only half the time, you say, “Well, relationships take work.”

Sorry, but that’s a cop-out as well as the perfect excuse to stay unhappy.

You can always rationalize your way into staying.

“I don’t want to hurt him.”
“He’s really trying to regain my trust.”
“We have so much history together.”
“What about the money? What about the kids?”
“I’m not perfect either!”
“He says he wants to change.”

Believe me – and other couples who have seen the light – good relationships are easy.

If your relationship is not easy, it’s not that good.

Time to find a better one.

Click here if you’d like to learn more about how to do that.

 

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Michelle H.

    Thumbs up! I used to be like those women, but your advice (over time) has changed me for the better!!

    1. 1.1
      JoAnn

      I second this! It’s also nice to hear it from a man, not just from girlfriends.

  2. 2
    Lynn

    Yep, a great relationship is really easy and my guy WANTS to do whatever is necessary to be in a healthy, authentic, loving, nurturing relationship. I’ve read most of your blogs and followed you these past nine years. I’m in the best relationship of my life because of you, Evan.

  3. 3
    Anastasia

    AGREED! Evan nailed it as usual. Don’t waste your time, woman, move on.

  4. 4
    Kath

    EMK has said it best here. Ladies, do not be afraid of change. At age 51, I left an abusive marriage of 18 years, took my two teenagers with me and made the difficult decision to let our house foreclose. We crammed into a one-bedroom condo, making the small dining area into a makeshift sleeping space. I finished grad school and landed a new job that allowed me to buy a modest townhome for me and my now young adult sons who are in college.
    Yes, I have missed my former house and quaint town. But I don’t miss the dysfunctional relationship and gaslighting, along with living on eggshells. I also didn’t want my sons to continue being exposed to their parents’ marriage that just didn’t work.
    In retrospect, I would have told my 33 year old self to not marry this guy in the first place. But my neurotic compulsion to want marriage and have babies overruled me. Don’t be me and gloss over the red flags that should be flashing sirens. Find the courage and strength to leave. And do your inner work, especially if you are codependent. You will emerge that much stronger and never put up with some loser/low effort man again. Love yourself first; you are worth it.

    1. 4.1
      Anonymous

      Thank you Kath for sharing your inspiring story and to Evan for this well-timed post that I needed the most.
      I recently found the courage within me to end a 2+ year toxic, on-off, drama filled relationship with a verbally abusive man who left my heart empty and my soul lifeless. Just like Kath, my strong desire to want marriage and kids overruled the glaring red flags that this guy put out from the get go. I ignored all the bad gut feelings, insecurities, and anxieties I had over this man because I was scared to be alone. I was willing to put up with his crap because I told myself I didn’t have much time to find another guy because of my shrinking fertility timeline (I’m 39). But I had several epiphanies where I asked myself, do I really want my future kids exposed to this kind of abusive, crap relationship?? Hell no! Now that I am recounting my story, I feel like such a fool for wasting the past 2+ years of my life and I have no one to blame but myself. This post was the slap-in-the-face reality check I desperately needed to give me the strength to stay away from him and to soldier forward with my life.

      1. 4.1.1
        Kath

        @Anonymous-

        Kudos to have the sense and strength to walk away and stop yourself from marrying Mr. Wrong. I foolishly ignored the many epiphanies I had during my engagement. Two years is not that long, compared to the 18 years I spent married to my sons’ father, who unsurprisingly moved on to wife #3 after me.
        There are options to having a child other than the societal expectation of being coupled up, if a woman absolutely has has to become a mother.
        I hope you find a great guy who is worthy of you.

  5. 5
    Christine

    AMEN to this Evan! I left an abusive marriage after I discovered he had fathered two secret children and started again, bringing up two teenage daughters completely unsupported. It was tough and scary but I had to do it for my sanity. I was on my own for several years, worked on myself and saw my daughters through university. I am proud to have two wonderful adult children who are in healthy long-term relationships and leading productive, good lives. I am now happily married for a second time to a man who demonstrated time after time that he deserved me. Please do not settle for someone who doesn’t make the effort. Don’t live with regrets.

    1. 5.1
      Kath

      @Christine
      What an awesome outcome for you! Glad you found a good man.

      1. 5.1.1
        Christine

        Thank you Kath 🙂

  6. 6
    Yet Another Guy

    @Evan

    Since you deal with it on a regular basis, why do you think women accept this nonsense? Granted, I have had my caddish moments, but I do not date women who would put up with it for long. These women need to grow a spine.

    1. 6.1
      Marika

      YAG

      “but I do not date women who would put up with it for long”

      So if you were a cad to a woman and she put up with it, you would judge her, dump her and think she should ‘grow a spine’?…

      Any judgments on yourself at all?

      1. 6.1.1
        Yet Another Guy

        @Marika

        I would stop dating her for her own good. There are plenty of “nice” guys in the dating pool. However, it appears that most women are not attracted to “nice” guys. They are attracted to guys with an edge. Guys with an edge are usually more “cad” than “dad” because they have options. Just as most women desire a man with confidence, most guys desire a woman with a spine, especially guys with an edge. Sherry Argov wrote a book about it.

        1. Emily, to

          YAG,
          “Just as most women desire a man with confidence, most guys desire a woman with a spine, especially guys with an edge. Sherry Argov wrote a book about it.”
          For once we agree on something, and it’s nice to know that a man with confidence (and, yes, that’s what a good percentage of women want) wants a woman with a backbone. Sometimes it seems they just want acquiescent or pleasant. Argov called it being a bitch but what she really meant was having some self-worth.

        2. Marika

          Please don’t lecture me on women, YAG.

          You chimed in to ask a question on this topic, so here’s your answer: attitudes like the one you expressed
          above are a big part of the problem.
          Treating a woman badly then blaming her for accepting it is a form of gaslighting and continues the cycle of abuse.

          Have you noticed how if you get asked a question about your own behaviour you tend to flip it around?

        3. Marika

          Nice of you to take this as a positive, young-lady-Em. I took it as YAG doing his own version of a shit-test and if the woman fails it (accepts him being a ‘cad’), he dumps her. Plummeting her self-worth, which probably wasn’t that high to begin with.

          I was going to ask why not be a decent human being in the first place and not test women (or put ‘having shit together’ higher on the priority list than ‘be a barbie’), but it’s a waste of breath as I know where the blame will be placed.

        4. jo

          YAG, your thinking seems to divide men into just 2 groups – confident cads and nice insecure men – which is a bit reductionist IME. There are plenty of confident men who are also kind. In fact, if I think someone is deliberately being a cad for game or insecurity, that automatically diminishes their attractiveness and any respect I feel for them.

          Something about your approach to relationships doesn’t seem to equate with maturity – the way you describe your approach makes me think of the mindset of someone much younger and less mellowed by experience. After a number of decades, we have the grace and confidence to leave games aside and show up as our authentic selves.

          Marika is right about how bad treatment of women and blaming them for accepting it is a form of abuse. I don’t see why any thoughtful adult would knowingly engage in it.

        5. Emily, to

          Marika/Doll,
          “Nice of you to take this as a positive, young-lady-Em. I took it as YAG doing his own version of a shit-test and if the woman fails it (accepts him being a ‘cad’), he dumps her. Plummeting her self-worth, which probably wasn’t that high to begin with.”
          He probably sleeps with them for a while and then dumps them.

        6. Buck25

          Just to follow up a bit on this, I’ve found over the years that for me, having a relationship with a woman who hasn’t got a fair amount of assertiveness and inner strength gets very uncomfortable, very quickly. There is nothing wrong with a woman being pleasant and agreeable: but that does not equate to being a doormat. For me the latter doesn’t feel pleasant at all; it feels like often having to walk on eggshells, trying not to step on her. It’s difficult, especially for a man who doesn’t want to be destructive or unkind. Maybe that’s why I gravitate to the “spitfire” type; at least I know she can and will stand up for herself.

          The problem is that many fearful, insecure, unconfident women with low self-esteem are drawn to high confidence, edgy, strong, forceful and dominant male personality types, only to find that a relationship with such a man is something they simply lack the inner strength to handle. What seems so desirable, is actually toxic to a lot of these women, and if the man involved actually cares (some of us really do) ultimately toxic to him as well.

      2. 6.1.2
        Noone45

        Why would he judge himself when society doesn’t? Hardly any of the respondents do. Hell, one of them went on about market value and “what they can get”. Apparently if you don’t reach a certain level of attractiveness, you should expect bad treatment. The truth here is any women, no matter how pretty or strong, can land in a bad relationship. And to be proud you treated someone like crap? Wow. I’m not a saint, but I don’t feel pride when I recall moments in which I’ve hurt others. Those aren’t pleasant memories.

        Many of the people talking about this could do with a dose of humility. You can be wrong. No matter how smart, pretty, or strong you think you are, you can make one wrong choice and end up somewhere you don’t want to be.

        In my own life, I stopped dating. I didn’t feel there was anything to gain from it for me. I think many of the regular commenters would find it logical as I’ve stated more than once that I’m objectively unattractive and do not have a life most people find convenient, but that’s not why I stopped dating – I realized I wasn’t in an emotionally healthy place and needed to do something about it. It doesn’t matter how pretty you are, what your IQ is, or where you came from, you can suffer -You can bear a wound you don’t know how to heal. Hell, I don’t know if I’ll ever heal my wounds,but I keep trying. Many people would benefit from not dating and focusing on healing for awhile.

        Ah well, I’ll leave the woes of love to the pretty and educated. I’ve got the first part of my certification exam next month, back to the books.

        1. Marika

          Humility SO VERY important, Noone. I agree. There’s an exercise in Love U where you list reasons someone wouldn’t want to be with you – what they would have to deal with / put up with. Definitely not an exercise for you. But some of the regular commenters could benefit. To stop focusing so much on the list of things they need, how they need the person to be – and to recognize their own imperfections so they can appreciate people who are willing to overlook them. Because that’s no small thing.

    2. 6.2
      Mrs Happy

      Dear YAG,
      My theories are, some women “accept this nonsense” because:
      i) they (i.e. women in general) have been raised to put themselves last;
      ii) their relationship market value means they haven’t their choice of partners (“I do not date women who would put up with it for long” – well, no surprise Sherlock, that’s because you date 7’s and up);
      iii) they don’t want to be alone;
      iv) choices made through life mean they might not have the financial means to live and support children or themselves independently;
      v) once in a relationship, hormones disrupt logical reasoning ability and objectivity (“rose coloured glasses”);
      vi) time, effort and sacrifice investment sunk costs make it harder to leave;
      vii) the poor effort or abuse is what they’ve grown up with and think is normal, and the familiar can be comfortable;
      viii) any partner is better than the fearful chasm of none;
      ix) as you very well know YAG, once in a long term relationship, all sorts of faults are put up with, and almost normalised;
      x) they have low self esteem, low confidence, limited ability to adapt to new and difficult life circumstances, they are not resilient in this way, so staying seems the easier short term option. Humans love easy;
      xi) they don’t have the mental bandwidth or ability to delay gratification – to get out now, live hard in the short term, for greater gains later. Because you can do this, you think it’s easily done. It’s not, for many;
      xii) their IQs and problem solving abilities are low, or compromised by things like gaslighting, abuse, scarcity, poverty; and
      xiii) they don’t have a strong reliable support system to fall back on.

      1. 6.2.1
        Emily, to

        Mrs. Happy,
        “viii) any partner is better than the fearful chasm of none;”
        This is probably a big one. He’s a BTN: Better than nothing, and some women have to be dating someone at all times.

      2. 6.2.2
        Lurking

        Great list! So true, I see it all day every day. High quality people are single later & longer b/c they are waiting for other rare high quality people.

        1. Noquay

          Very true! I would add to Ms Happys list;
          9. Many women lack the skills to be completely alone, they have no clue how to maintain a home, a car, etc. If they’re low income, they can’t hire folk to do this stuff for them.
          10. Single women are stigmatized in a way that single men never have been. We really are treated as something “less than”, especially as we age.
          11. Related to #10. We are pressured to accept men that we are not attracted to and/or not compatible with ina way that men are not. This likely has to do with there just being fewer high value men as we age vs women. If you accept this, you’ve entered in a rship that’s doomed to be difficult and fail from the get go.
          12. When you do the right thing and leave a rship due to incompatibility, infidelity, etc. You are looking at years of being alone, wading once again into a dating pool where, as Evan so rightly stated in a previous post, 90% of the men you meet are not able to be in a good rship. This could be due to health issues, financial/substance use issues, emotional issues, or very incompatible lifestyles.
          I’m not defending women who choose to stay in bad/abusive rships but I understand their reality.

  7. 7
    Noone45

    Sometimes people think they have to put up with bad relationships
    because that’s all they can get. For myself, I don’t really care if I’m unattractive or anything else, I’m not putting up with any of that crap anymore.

  8. 8
    ilana orea

    My writing partner was dating a total life loser for three years and I just didn’t get it. When he (predictably) dumped her for the girl that he was probably cheating on her with at the end of the relationship… then she finally got it. Some people (men and women) need to earn their knowledge. They need to go through bumps and bruises, etc. in order to grow a spine. Not everyone pops out of the womb fully evolved – that’s why there are so many not great people to date out there! When everyone (men and women) starts asking more from each other and expecting more from each other and loving themselves more than loving the idea of a partnership, these letters will become less frequent to EMK.

    1. 8.1
      Marika

      I’m not even sure it’s about who you’re born to be, but what you are exposed to with your role models as a young child. For a woman, what your father/father figure is like. How your mother/mother figure deals with it. These understandings are formed very early on, in a little child’s underdeveloped brain.

      Also, very few women are attracted to men who consistently treat them like dirt and do so from day 1. I’m watching a movie about Ted Bundy’s girlfriend. He didn’t run away when he found out she was divorced with a 2 year old (as many would). He cooked them both breakfast the morning after they met. Etc. She fell for him because of those things. As it became clear he was a psychopath, those feelings of love didn’t go away. She just became more distressed and confused.

      An edge is fine, is attractive, but have some honour, some decency. Don’t treat women badly then wonder why they put up with it. There are myriad reasons. Just don’t be the guy who takes advantage.

  9. 9
    Susan McCord

    OMG you and I could totally hang out! I have had very similar advice questions and I agree with everything you said. Why do so many women hang on to one small thing in a relationship when there are so many large red flags waving away in front of them? When a relationship is in a good place there aren’t a lot of questions, it just works and there’s no drama! You’re so right it takes a little effort but it shouldn’t be that much work!

  10. 11
    Lynx

    Susan: “When a relationship is in a good place there aren’t a lot of questions, it just works and there’s no drama! You’re so right it takes a little effort but it shouldn’t be that much work!”

    This continues to be a huge muddle for me — all relationships take effort, so how do you know when it’s too much effort? In clearly abusive situations, the obvious move is to leave. But in many less-than-optimally-happy relationships, it’s not so obvious.

    We live in a shiny new object society. Eew, you’ve only got the iPhone 8? You’re way overdue for the X, so slap down your CapitalOne card and brave the $1K price tag, even though the difference in features is marginal at best. It does sometimes seem as though unpartnered people of both genders define a “perfect” relationship as one that fulfills all needs all the time, without requiring significant effort.

    1. 11.1
      Marika

      I agree, Lynx. I certainly err too far in the other direction, trying and putting in too much effort, when it’s definitely time to stop. But the opposite isn’t good either, IMO. I know people who talk about ‘when it’s right, you know’ or other platitudes that imply the right relationship will fall into their lap and just work. Even though they leave behind them a string of failed relationships. Even though you can tell they could make quite a few tweaks themselves to have better relationship skills.

      Some people do need to work. Work on themselves.

      1. 11.1.1
        Lynx

        Marika: My high school boyfriend is a great guy, we’ve remained good friends over the years. Early on in his marriage, he commented on how much work it took. At the time, I was a couple of years into a fun, no-hassle relationship, and remember thinking to myself, “Dude, if it’s work, you’re doing it wrong”.

        20-something years later, he is still in a happy, healthy marriage to the same woman, while I’m in a 6-year separation from an abusive narcissist who initiated our split but won’t finalize the divorce. Call me gun-shy, but I look askance at “no-work” relationships.

        1. Marika

          An abusive narcissist was fun and no hassle?? He must have been putting on quite a show in the beginning! I’m very sorry to hear that. I’m just surprised it was ever easy as they are hard to build relationships with. Are there ways to legally force finalising the divorce?

  11. 12
    Michelle

    Evan,

    Loved this post! And your sum up of the same letters over and over. Seriously, was reading some of the pseudo psycho babble above about childhood trauma and daddy issues made me do it; ie stay with the abusive, emotionally distant, cheating, etc boyfriend for years and even marry him. Complete crap and lack of personal accountability. Not to mention leading a bad example for your children to repeat the same bad relationship patterns. (daughters will pick the wrong guy, sons will see it’s ok to hit, cheat, etc.)
    Most women, except for those with profound mental health issues know when they need to leave and they not in a healthy relationship. It’s ok to date and maybe fall in love with the wrong guy, we all do it, it is not ok to stay after you see the guy is an alcoholic, cheater, using you, doesn’t want to have sex with you, or doesn’t want to marry you ever. Don’t blame it on low self esteem, your father, your past cheating boyfriends, the president, etc. You have free will, you know what to do, you just don’t want to deal with the temporary pain of being alone, starting over, etc. Some of these women need a hard slap; not therapy or a shoulder to cry on (for the hundreth time about the same problems with the same guy or guys over and over). There are people with real problems on this planet…..ladies you know you deserve more, yes you have personal demons and attraction patterns that are not healthy, you also have the free will and power to choose.

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