My Boyfriend is Selfish. Why Won’t He Change for Me?

My Boyfriend is Selfish. Why Won’t He Change for Me?

My boyfriend, age 59, and I, age, 50, have been together 6 years. We were each previously in long term marriages and have kids.

During the course of our relationship there have been enough rough spots, many, I believe, stemming from his undiagnosed ADD, and perhaps even mild Aspergers, to push for counseling. After years of defensive resistance, we now see a therapist who diagnosed him, he is cautiously trying out different meds (with little effect thus far), and is helping us work toward a better relationship. The issues are his distractibility, impulsiveness, forgetfulness and frequent inability to see things from any perspective other than what works for him. Quite often our disagreements spiral down the proverbial rabbit hole. Weird, nonsensical, insensitive and incredibly frustrating. He has a difficult time processing concepts where the circumstances change and nuance is involved. It is sometimes maddening. And yet, I do love him – very much.

But I’ve also realized that who he is because of how his brain is wired might remain a constant source of frustration and angst. Me wishing he would just “get it”, and he resenting being reminded when he doesn’t. When things are good and I have his attention, I can’t fathom leaving the relationship. And other times, when care and consideration just take flight because something more exciting has caught his attention, I wonder – what am I doing here.

We are both highly educated, financially secure – he more-so (and then some) than me on both counts, well-traveled (something we do very well because I get the companionship I desire and he gets the stimulus he craves), well cultured, well read, politically aligned and family oriented. He is appreciative of me always, generous and genuine with his compliments, tells me and shows he loves me (when I have his attention) and wants to please me. He’s endlessly energetic (also exhausting), effortlessly outgoing (to the point of attention seeking), always up for something new (though sometimes ill conceived), great with my kids (he’s the fun Dad type), affectionate (sometimes in over-drive), handy, helpful (so long as it interests him), and easy-going (unless it interferes with his pursuit of pleasure). You get the idea. Some days he is the best and most wonderful person to be with, other days, it’s like watching a micro-burst of frenetic busy-ness while I’m stuck swinging at the top of a broken Ferris wheel.

Within the first year of our relationship he cheated on me while on a solo trip halfway around the world. Seems he just couldn’t resist the temptation of a pretty young thing at a party at his hotel the night before he flew home to see me – the girlfriend he missed.

Somehow, I knew he strayed. I asked repeatedly, and repeatedly, he lied. The nagging feeling lingered for months. I realized I’d not seen since his return the journal I had given him before he left – in which I lovingly inscribed “write it all down – share it with me” – as it was his habit – to keep little notebooks and jot down memorable tidbits. Months later, there was still no sharing. No journal in sight.

I found the journal sealed and tucked out of sight. The one night stand was succinctly but plainly noted, just another tidbit, referencing her age-25, “blue blood” and “spent the night”. His first reaction was not to console me, apologize or even express remorse. I was crying in a corner and instead of even approaching me, he announced from across the room how he should not write things down anymore. Huh???

He found it difficult to empathize and said he’d understand if I left him. Though he did everything I asked of him, missing was an intuitive understanding of what he could do on his own to make me feel better.

Fast forward to present day. Out of the blue he announced two days ago that he IS taking a SOLO two month trip around the world in a few months, to explore, surf and kiteboard in an “Endless Summer” experience – just because he is turning 60! He doesn’t seem to understand why I’m not fully trusting, or his enthusiastic cheerleader in this hedonistic self-absorbed pleasure driven adventure. He also doesn’t seem to understand why announcing this to his ex wife – not seeing their 12 yr old for two months – is going to result in legal fees for failure to comply with the detailed parenting plan in their divorce decree. It is ALL about him. I told him NONE of it was ok with me. Not the way he presented it as a done deal without even thinking about my reaction, Not the 2 month duration. Not with the trust issues, Not with a sense of nauseating entitlement that pursuit of this sort of pleasure was more important than his obligations to our relationship, his child, his family, his businesses, etc.

I told him if he pursued it I would lose all respect for him and he would lose me. He got defensive and angry and cast me as a controlling, leash tugging gate keeper – just trying to spoil his good time, but that he was doing it anyway. The next day, I wrote a letter detailing all the issues. He heard me, understood my points, and agreed with much of what I said. I’ve never spent two solid months with him, ever, not in 6 years. I see him 2 nights a week and every other weekend. He’s been away at his summer home most of the summer, and only occasionally with me when I make the effort to go to him. Otherwise, if it’s his time to be on the family compound he doesn’t leave.

This type of thing happens all too often. It’s like Jekyll and Hyde. This one, like the cheating, is among the worst.

Do I stay? Do I jump ship?

If it were not for his ADD that I believe leads him to these impulsive, random, illogical, impossible, reckless and insensitive thoughts and actions, I would have left long ago. It does not excuse his behavior – he is a grown up after all, but I have seen up close the strange and darker forces that can dominate his uniquely wired brain when that bright shiny thing is in the cross hairs of his pleasure seeking.

Thoughts, advice?

You get hundreds of letters. I know this one is WAY too long, but the telling was somewhat cathartic for me. So thanks for reading. I love your spot-on assessments. Your wife is lucky to have a consistent thinking, feeling, empathetic life partner.

Kind regards,


“If your aunt had balls, she’d be your uncle.”

I said that last night to the women in Love U in response to a similar question about a man who was not living up to expectations.

My client was wondering what to do with this guy – whether she should cut bait, how to get him to change – and I simply pointed out something crude I heard from my wife twelve ago.

What it means is that it may be only one change, but that one change fundamentally alters the essence of the object:

If your aunt had balls, she’d be your uncle.

If Ted Bundy didn’t murder people, he’d be a really charming guy.

If Ted Bundy didn’t murder people, he’d be a really charming guy.

If your boyfriend were less selfish, he’d be an amazing catch.

But he’s not.

You know it. I know it. Anyone reading this email knows it.

   a. He doesn’t want to change. He likes who he is.

   b.  He doesn’t have to change. You’ve stuck with him for six years despite this behavior. Why would he think that this time would be any different?

   c.  He can’t change. Whether it’s old dog/new tricks, ADD or, as I suspect, narcissistic personality disorder, it doesn’t matter. This is who he is. Take it or leave it.

Like our president, your boyfriend is an overgrown child who acts out but doesn’t pay any price for his selfishness.

Since there are no consequences to his behavior, he keeps acting out – whether it’s cheating, failing to find empathy, or taking off for two months without you.

You can make all the excuses in the world for him – what a great man he is – how charming, fun, and energetic – but that is just to ignore his big design flaw: he’s a shitty partner.

Thus, it doesn’t matter how much you like him when things are good.

How do you like being a second-class citizen within your own relationship?

If you don’t like it, get out.

If you stay, don’t expect things to change.

You’ve already taught him that he can get away with whatever he wants and you’re not going to do anything about it.

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  1. 21

    jo: “selena Personally I liked Evan’s line ‘If your aunt had balls, she’d be your uncle.’

    Lol. I interpreted that along the lines of “Be Careful What You Wish For.” The LW wants to change her lover’s personality, but she just might not be happy with the results should she succeed.

    I’ve read the letter through several times. In one long paragraph she details his positive qualities with a negative in parentheses of the same quality. It reinforces the angle I’ve been examining. For 6 years, the good has outweighed the bad for her in this relationship. It’s not perfect, but there has been ENOUGH of the positive for her to keep it going. There may come a tipping point, but I don’t think she was there yet when she wrote the letter to EMK

    Selfishness. A person who wants to take two months to travel and engage in physical activities because they are turning 60, doesn’t seem so selfish to me. Sounds like he wanted to do this while he is still active, and without health issues. Waiting another decade might be too late. Something like a “Bucket List”.

    His girlfriend – the one who seldom saw him over the summer – objects? Examine that. He may not be the only one being a little selfish.

    Empathy. Hmm. I can feel some empathy for both parties in the letter for different reasons.

    Bit less for some of the comments. Feeling that there is a line between ’empathy’ and self-absorption with one’s own past.. Been there, done that, no doubt will again.

    1. 21.1
      Mrs Happy

      @ Selena: “Selfishness. A person who wants to take two months to travel and engage in physical activities because they are turning 60, doesn’t seem so selfish to me.”

      When I was in my late 20’s I moved country. Just organised it, got everything set up, got a job over in the new place, found accommodation, etc. Then I told my current boyfriend about my plan. Because our relationship was transient/just fun for me, I did not consider him in my life moving country plans at all. He suggested he could come (i.e. move country together), I said no, and we broke up a bit later, just before I left.

      Was I selfish? It wasn’t that important a relationship to me, I was having fun, with no desire for anything more serious. The sex was off the charts fantastic, and the only reason I stayed with him any time at all, physically beautiful body, tall and muscle bound, ex army, good grief pass me a fan just remembering him physically, but his IQ was a fraction of mine, so we couldn’t even have a conversation without my brain falling out in boredom. I don’t think I was selfish but it’s hard to call. It’d have been foolish to have him join me, or to, for the sake of being nice or something, not move country because of him.

      Alison’s partner/boyfriend is rich and successful and wants to travel, and clearly doesn’t want her to travel with him for the 2 months (or he’d have invited her along). Selena, your comment makes me think, maybe he isn’t that selfish after all, maybe he just doesn’t want the same sort of thing Alison does, including the same level of entwined lives, from their relationship. He suits himself and we call him selfish. But he is allowed to suit himself.

      She drives to him (reminds me of Clare’s ex, and I will not go down the side goat track of men who don’t drive). He retreats to the “family compound” (I’m trying not to imagine a cult compound) for ages, and he is content not having her in his life often at all. The man is 59, doesn’t want to remarry, wants to see the world, is happy just with having a sometimes relaxed girlfriend, and sleeping with pretty young blueblood things when he can.

      I personally would never have skipped a planned 2 month overseas holiday because my boyfriend of the time didn’t want me to go. I’ve been around the world easily 20+ times, and would’ve always had a boyfriend relationship at the time of every trip back in my pre-married days, and hardly any of them came on my holidays with me. One that did is now married to me. Any boyfriend I was actually into would have been invited, but if they couldn’t come, I’d still have gone. People are allowed to travel. One can’t always only schedule travel when one is single.

      I’m mainly just sad for Alison, because I don’t think she is getting many wants met, and her partner is frustrating her, very entitled, and will probably cheat while away from her.

      It’s interesting that she stays because he has ADD, given the behaviours she attributes to ADD are driving her nuts. “If it were not for his ADD that I believe leads him to these impulsive, random, illogical, impossible, reckless and insensitive thoughts and actions, I would have left long ago.” At 59, his brain functioning and impulsivity aren’t going to get any better, and may get worse with time.

      I wonder if Evan picks out the worst relationship letters to post? This one is just a train wreck.

      1. 21.1.1

        Selfish = focused on the self. Self-focused. Was your past self selfish? Sure. But it was allowed to be, because it was not in a committed relationship. It was a benign selfishness, unless your boyfriends at the time were led to believe the relationship meant more to you than it did, that it was on track to becoming more than it was. Frankly, you were honest about who you were and what you wanted.

        One of my brother’s chief complaints about his wife is that she led him to believe she was something that she wasn’t. When they were dating, she did whatever he wanted, went wherever he wanted with him, appeared to be enthusiastic about whatever he was enthusiastic about. The week before their wedding, my brother told me that this was why he was marrying her – that there were smarter, prettier girls out there, but this one treats him like a king (don’t get me started on my brother or youngest-child syndrome…). Well, predictably, a year or two into the marriage, and moreso after the kids were born, she let her opinions be known. She does not like camping. She does not like road trips. She doesn’t like working long hours, or cooking or cleaning, or much else that my brother likes. She now skips half the vacations my brother takes with their kids and instead vacations on her own with her parents and brother.

        Now THAT is selfish. In so many ways. And I’d take her to task for it if my brother weren’t at least as selfish in his own ways.

      2. 21.1.2

        Hello Mrs. Happy,

        From the letter: “We are both highly educated, financially secure – he more-so (and then some) than me on both counts, well-traveled (something we do very well because I get the companionship I desire and he gets the stimulus he craves)”

        I wonder if there might be a bit of resentment on the LW’s part, not necessarily because she wasn’t invited to go on this trip, but because she is not in the position to take off for 2 whole months? As in, she can’t leave her career/business/kids for that long and/ or be able to finance it? Or even if she would really want to travel for 2 months whilst the bf surfed/kite boarded? Kind of like she doesn’t want him have fun without her.

        She’s admitted she has trust issues around him taking this trip, but realistically – he doesn’t need to leave the country to cheat. He could’ve cheated all summer if he wanted since she wasn’t around. Or any other time for that matter.

        You wrote: “It’s interesting that she stays because he has ADD, given the behaviours she attributes to ADD are driving her nuts.”

        Yes it is interesting. Perhaps it factors into why they spend so much time apart? Imagine how frustrated they might both be if they lived together.

      3. 21.1.3
        Emily, to

        Mrs. Happy,
        “Selena, your comment makes me think, maybe he isn’t that selfish after all, maybe he just doesn’t want the same sort of thing Alison does, including the same level of entwined lives, from their relationship. He suits himself and we call him selfish. But he is allowed to suit himself.”
        This is exactly the problem. She wants a much more committed, entwined relationship. She wants the relationship to be a big deal, the real deal. It doesn’t sound like it’s that kind of relationship, but he may not want that from anyone. They’re not right for each other.

      4. 21.1.4

        I was thinking a lot about this comment last night. Thinking about selfishness and what it actually looks like in most of us.

        I don’t think that most people are maliciously selfish. That we consciously exercise our prerogatives over others, regardless of the wants and needs of those others. I think that most of us are empathetic….empathetic in our own minds. Because what is empathy, after all, but imagination of what the Other is feeling? We can’t know what anyone else is actually feeling, so we imagine…and then we feel what we imagine they are feeling. Voila, empathy. Problem is, our imagination is so often wrong.

        I came across this when I first started thinking about the whole meta-goal thing years ago. I observed that whatever we each want to get when we have sex, we tend to extrapolate that that’s what others should want too. The person who wants orgasms thinks their partner wants orgasms. The person who wants excitement thinks their partner should only want that too. And the person who wants commitment/relationships believes that’s what her partner should also want – if he was, you know, normal. And all those assumptions are so often wrong, so often lead to hurt. Because (of COURSE), the fact that we want (or don’t want) something doesn’t mean that others do (or don’t).

        I thought about this when I read your comment above, Mrs Happy. How because you didn’t think your relationships with these boyfriends were serious, you had no qualms about leaving/dumping/moving on with your life. You wanted what you wanted – to travel, to have fun, to have FREEDOM….but that was ok, wasn’t it? Because isn’t that what the guys wanted too?

        It would be one thing if you didn’t actually care what the men in your life wanted. If you knew they loved you desperately and you were using them for giggles and sex, and then dumping them like…..used kleenex. That would be a malicious selfishness indicative of a malignant character flaw. But it’s quite another if you did care about them, but simply assumed that they were as casual as you were. That how you felt about them was how they felt about you…..or at least, how they SHOULD have felt about you if they were, you know, normal. Nevermind that this ex-army dude actually offered to come with you when you moved countries (!), he had to know on some level that it wasn’t serious. I mean, my gosh, the IQ difference!

        This is really the guts of all the problems we talk about on this site, isn’t it? Our inability to put ourselves in the shoes of the other as opposed to fitting our shoes onto them?

        1. Jeremy

          It’s the difference, to quote our old-hat argument, between sex being a serviette versus the man himself being one. The former because the man’s priorities should resemble yours, the latter because his priorities don’t matter, regardless of what they are, because they AREN’T yours. It’s fascinating to me, and a little frightening. I have no intuitive understanding of either.

        2. Mrs Happy

          I spent yesterday’s drive home from work on the telephone with a close friend talking about manipulation. Specifically, how he and I routinely manipulate others, to get our way, and what did he think of the ethics of this. He is currently manipulating his dementing mother into signing over bank account details so he can more easily access her funds to pay for the nursing home she doesn’t want to but needs to go into, I had just manipulated my way out of a parking ticket when I returned to my car to find a parking inspector photographing my car (which was parked without me having paid for meter parking).

          He and I do this stuff all the time, in fact he was my work mentor 15+ years ago and taught me how to predict what others will think and do, then counter it, basically, manipulate everyone around me in the work environment. His teaching led to me being able to do it in circumstances other than those he was instructing about, i.e. basically whenever I wanted to, in my everyday life, not just at work.

          But I was considering coercion and manipulation and selfishness and how things are all grey and not in distinct boxes, and how it is really hard not to impulsively, without much thought, do what suits me best. That is, to not sweet talk the parking inspector so he’d not write the ticket, would have been harder than doing so. Does everybody do this sort of stuff? I think they do, but some do it better than others. Is it selfish because I can do it more successfully than the average person? Probably. But it’d be silly not to get out of a ticket, given it was so easy to, right? It’d be silly to not have enough money to put dementing mum in the nicer nursing home, given the money is there.

          Through my 20’s I couldn’t predict how serious men were until they proposed. In my 30’s I learned to predict their feelings and intentions better. Unless I was married, I wasn’t going to give up career opportunities or travel trips or living alone or financial independence or a whole lot of other things. It didn’t feel selfish to forge my own path in life, it felt sensible. The men who wanted me to be their stay-at-home wife – if I’d taken up any of those offers, I’d now be so financially and career disadvantaged, and they’d be complaining about paying child support or assets lost in divorce, and I wouldn’t be as happy as I am having done what I’ve done in life. It can’t be selfish to be happy (as long as others aren’t hurt)?

        3. Jeremy

          Ever read Carnegie’s ‘How to make friends and influence people’? My bet is that you have. Did he tell you to?

          Explorer/Artisan type, Carnegie, far-end on the spectrum. The difference between the manipulation of such and the manipulation of an idealistic rational is that the former manipulates to get what he wants, while the latter manipulates to give others what they want. I’m sure you know that to manipulate someone you need to understand them, who they are, what they want, what they fear. But do you understand them because you love them and want to know about them, or because you want to get your way? The difference is not in the technique but in the motivation and hence the ethics. IMHO.

          LOL. For example, flattering a lonely man in order to swindle him is unethical. Doing same to help him is friendship. Words are not different.

          Did you really treat those men as you did because you didn’t know how serious THEY were? 🙂

          It isn’t selfish to be happy. It’s selfish to be happy at the expense of others, on the backs of others, with no regard to their happiness. To believe that it’s their responsibility to look out for themselves and only their fault of we use them.

          You can’t unsee the perspectives of others once you start to see them. The silent world is a noisy place to me.

          LOL re: predictability. When I was a kid, we used to play a game called rock paper scissors. I’m sure you’ve heard of it in oz. I noticed that the overwhelming majority of people lead with scissors, likely because the word scissors is the last thing they say before the gesture. After that, most people do rock. Most likely because rock seems most solid of all the choices. After that, they usually do scissors again, then paper to change it up. Then, if they’re fearful, they go back to rock. If crafty, paper a second time. Anyway, it’s an interesting exercise in psychology to see how far you can predict based on the personality of your opponent. People get frustrated when they can’t seem to win more than one hand in five.

        4. jo

          Jeremy, are you a philosophy professor?

          Though I don’t know jack about philosophy, two things I remember from long ago had to do with utilitarianism on the one hand, and Kant’s categorical imperative on the other. Utilitarianism is about striving for the greatest total good for everyone in a scenario. So Mrs Happy, if you needed the money that the parking ticket would have cost, and it didn’t cause the police to lose much by not having it, and it was a pleasant exchange between you and the inspector, then utility goes up and it was a moral good.

          Kant’s categorical imperative isn’t really opposed to this as much as it is about focusing on the means, not the ends – what Jeremy is writing about in his last comment about intentions mattering: do unto others as you would have everyone do if they were in your situation. That makes the parking ticket situation a little trickier, but maybe as long as police forces weren’t hurting for money, Mrs. Happy’s action was still the most ethical.

          This is going off the beaten path 🙂 so to bring it back to the original story: this relationship probably fails on both accounts, optimising happiness, and doing unto others as you would have everyone do unto everyone else. So the conclusion is still the same: they should go separate ways.

          Selfishness would seem to be context-dependent, and the rule you came up with is probably best: do what you like if it doesn’t hurt others unreasonably. Admittedly it is difficult when it is a zero-sum game (one wants to travel, the other doesn’t want him to, or only one person can get promoted). Then logic or some other criterion would come into play.

        5. Jeremy

          In another life, if I’d had time and space and independent wealth, I might have been a philosophy professor. Or psychology. Or archaeology. Or maybe marine biology. But alas, I had none of those things and so it’s been a long time since I read Kant. Did you take philosophy in university, Jo?

          I agree with you about your application of the principle to the OP. She is extrapolating her prerogatives onto her BF, which is selfish. He is unwilling to be the man she needs but still wants to hang around in the relationship – also selfish. 2 selfish people, each getting their needs minimally meet while others go unmet. Suboptimal.

          I think that manipulating others is particularly easy for those born with looks and charm. Having just the former is usually enough to get out of paying parking tickets. Having both allows you to avoid having to understand others in order to manipulate them… because what they want is you. To date you, to be friends with you, to just be around you and soak up the Halo effect. But be born without looks or natural charm and you gotta understand people from first principles. Gotta be more subtle because you don’t have the halo effect protecting you. It’s definitely easier for some people, Mrs H, which makes it all the more difficult for those others to be ethical.

          Try as I might, I can’t talk a male parking officer out of giving me a ticket if I’ve parked illegally. I just acknowledge that I’ve parked illegally and pay the fine. Because the fine is warranted, I broke the rules after all, and I can afford it, and he is only doing his job and won’t benefit in any way from my messing with his head.

        6. jo

          Jeremy, it was either philosophy or poli sci, which brings up another relevant author: Machiavelli (since you mention manipulation). Our prof said that he is a misunderstood author, whose name has become synonymous with scheming and manipulation, when his advice is actually like modern self-help similar to Dale Carnegie. In The Prince, I don’t think he wrote about looks and charm (I agree with you, someone who has these can talk him/her self into or out of so much!), but about studying the other party’s wants and needs, and crafting a message or plan around that. Is that manipulation? Maybe… but as you said, the motivation matters.

          Because looks and charm do not last forever (at least not looks), it’s probably better to have learned the art of reading another person’s wants and needs from a young age.

          Your story about rock paper scissors is funny. Next time I will try rock first. But that’s the thing: most people don’t psycho-analyse that game so much to even notice that pattern. We just play for fun. Is that bad? (On the flip side: How far do we extend our analyses before becoming scary to others?)

    2. 21.2

      Selena, interesting: I’d interpreted it as one change making all the difference, but like your interpretation too. IMO, in this story, this man did not find his balls until he protested her resistance to his 60th bday trip. You’re right, his wish is not selfish.

      Everything else you wrote, I also agree with, especially the last para. I realised I was cringing any time I saw a certain person replied to my comments, because though I never wrote negatively of her, she frequently wrote jabs and tone-policed or thought-policed me (though far worse comments than mine have appeared in this blog). Then I realised: this is not empathy. It may be what you wrote in the last para.

      It’s easy to express empathy toward a third party: those with whom one needn’t interact directly. Where the rubber meets the road, in direct interactions – THAT is where genuine empathy is revealed. No one cringes around a truly empathetic person. I will receive lessons on empathy from those who actually show it.

  2. 22

    YIKES ! The first time I skimmed the article, I completely missed that guy in counseling and the doctors are experimenting with different drugs. I definitiely think this woman should exit the relationship, but just because this man is not good relationship material (or at least not a good match for her), doesn’t mean she should pressure him into being drugged into submission. I have witnessed first hand, someone using the pyschiatric community to drug their spouse into submission. It was an ugly thing. Let him go. If he is highly educated and financially secure, I doubt that there is anything wrong with him that needs to be “fixed” with drugs. It just sounds like he is too much of a free spirit with wanderlust to make a good match for most women. Perhaps he could find a kindred spirit, perhaps he would be better off to remain un-coupled.

    I hope he will stop taking the drugs (depending on they type, he may have to be slowly weaned off of them)

    1. 22.1

      SE, yes, thank you. Those were exactly the points I was trying to make earlier. That someone should force another person to endure this drugging (not to mention counseling, diagnosis, not ‘allowed’ to take his 60th bday trip) is intolerable. Which is why the vast majority of my empathy in this story is for the man. Your characterisation of him sounds very likely to be true: free spirit, and able to handle himself without drugs and possibly without a traditional partner.

      1. 22.1.1

        I think that drugs and pschyciatry have helped people who are truly suffering or truly dangerous, I think that largely the psyche and pharma industry have been weaponized to put people in a chemical straitjacket and drug them into submission.

        People who are a bit eccentric do not need to be drugged. This man is highly educated and financially secure so his ADD (if he even really has that) has not interfered with his ability to get a good education and be financially successful. If he can procure 2 months off to explore the world, then he must be very successful in his career, most jobs don’t have that much annual leave, and usually restrict how much consecutive time you can take off.

        Right now his only “disease” is that he isn’t offering his girlfriend the type of relationship she wants. Depending on the type of drugs his docs are experimenting with, he could eventually have REAL issues, not due to any inherent defect within him, but a side effects of drugs. Don’t believe me, just listen to the “verbal fine print” on all those commercials for mind altering drugs.

        The sad thing is, people who are pressured to take drugs, because their personalities are inconvenient for others, often end up with MUCH worse problems such as violent mood swings, suicidal thoughts, depression etc. Then they are given more drugs to combat the side effects, and more and more drugs are added to the routine. And then all of those side effects are written off as the person’s “disease”. But there was no disease to begin with, just a personality type that was considered peculiar or inconvenient to some.

        I found this sentence very telling “But I’ve also realized that who he is because of how his brain is wired might remain a constant source of frustration and angst.” Source of angst for whom ? Him or her ? I suspect the latter.

        This medication that is being pushed on him is not for HIS benefit but for hers (and the pharma industry).

        His cheating is the only real character issue in him that I can see. As bad as that is, it doesn’t justify drugging him into submission. She should have left him when he cheated or reconciled with him and accepted him as is. Not try to change his basic personality or brain wiring as she calls it with powerful mind altering drugs.

  3. 23

    jo: “I realised I was cringing any time I saw a certain person replied to my comments…”

    Did you ever see the film “Groundhog Day” (1993)?

    Sometimes the comment section feels like being stuck in that loop when a person cannot stop writing their own POV over and over and over regardless of what is trying to be discussed by others.

    That’s when I start SOB (scrolling on by).

    1. 23.1

      We are all free to scroll on by any comments, really.

      Each year I teach a new master’s class of residents as they enter their specialty program at the university. Each year, the lessons I teach are much the same with only some small modifications. The same, because those are the lessons that those who come to learn their specialty need to hear. Because they haven’t heard them before and they want to know. Sometimes my senior residents also attend the junior lectures, because although they’ve heard the lesson before, it makes more sense to them now, with more knowledge and experience under their belts. I don’t take attendance at these lectures. Those who don’t want to come are free to not.

      I also take a lot of continuing ed lectures. I usually walk out of those that are inane, but I don’t rush to do so. I figure if I can get one useful tidbit out of a 6 hour lecture, my time hasn’t been wasted.

      1. 23.1.1


        Opinions are such funny things, especially when expressed in written text. Robbed of their tone of voice, facial expressions, body language, energy, etc., words can be interpreted in a number of different ways, some of which reflect the writer’s original intention and some which do not.

        At the same time, tone often comes through loud and clear through written text.

        It’s a bit of a paradox.

        Not really relevant to what you were saying, but it was a point I wanted to make in regards to this discussion.

        1. Jeremy

          Loud and clear. I assume, of course, that your eyes are crossed and tongue sticking out as you wrote this. Then again, I could be wrong, could always be wrong. For instance, a while back you called me “Jer Jer” and I assumed it was a Star Wars joke. So I made a subtle Star Wars joke back. But on reflection later, I decided I was just projecting my own inner nerd, and like most of the women I know have never sat through Star Wars awake?

        2. Clare

          Not tongue-in-cheek at all. Was being quite serious. (But so hard to convey that, which was my point.)

          Yes, I’m afraid that Star Wars joke was entirely lost on me.

          Whilst I think fantasy has been one of the greatest gifts to the world of entertainment, I do not care for science fiction at all.

          But yes, great example of how we project ourselves onto what other people say and are often quite wrong! I could think of many others.

        3. jo

          Clare, FTR, I wasn’t talking about you in my comment on this page. The one time I considered your comments unkind was this:

          ‘But I think trying to illustrate this point of view to you is an exercise in futility.’

          You had explained it twice. I got it the 2nd time, evidently not the 1st (evidently, I got it totally wrong, I’m sorry, feel free to call me an idiot – but I had NO bad intent toward you, and that should have been obvious). I am not sure why you assumed it would be an exercise in futility for me to understand you the 2nd time.

        4. Clare


          I know saying that explaining it was an exercise in futility was a little unkind – But I was getting frustrated. I have been known to snap a little when that happens. Not my best quality, but there it is.

          The point I was originally making – to Jeremy because I sensed he’d probably understand what I was talking about but really it was addressed to commenters generally – was that text is a mixed blessing. It’s designed for brevity rather than clarity.

          People love to say that you cannot convey tone through the written word, but that’s not really true. Tone often comes through loud and clear. At the same time, a lot gets lost when you are trying to convey nuance and feeling in typed words, especially when you are trying to be brief.

          I find it frustrating – and I’m sure I’m not alone.

          (This is me musing about this thread generally, by the way – it’s not directed at you. I see our two viewpoints on the LW’s situation as a simple disagreement, which is fine. I just wish there was more depth to the things we can say, is what I’m saying.)

    2. 23.2

      Selena – HAHA yes. 🙂

      Good tactic on your part.

  4. 24
    [email protected]

    I think it’s better to ask your self, why do you settle down with a selfish guy? Could you have more self love and self respect?You can’t change anybody but only wasting your time.

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