So I’m in a pretty new relationship with my girlfriend, AJ. We’ve been dating since June, but I really REALLY like her. We always have a great time together whenever we’re together and I could really see a future here. There are a few problems, though.
First, she’s ALWAYS busy. Like always. We’re both in school so I kind of understand having too much homework to hang out, but every time we make ANY plan at all, she cancels last minute or shows up but can only stay like 20 minutes. Her birthday was last week and I’ve been planning it for a month and she could only stay about 90 minutes. It just kind of hurt. I just don’t understand why we can’t meet up at a coffee shop and do homework together sometimes. We literally live on the same street in different dorms–you’d think I would see her all the time, but I don’t.
Secondly, she hasn’t come out to anybody, including her closest friends. I understand not wanting to tell her family yet; I’m the first girl she’s dated so that’s going to come down the line if we end up together, but I cringe every time I’m introduced to her other friends as “a classmate”. When I bring it up, she tells me she’ll tell them when she’s ready and gets snippy, so then I feel bad for pressuring her.
And third, she makes me feel TERRIBLE. Like all the time. And I don’t know if I’m reading situations wrong and overthinking it, but if I text her too often she snaps at me that I’m pressuring her too much to talk when she’s busy, even if I’m just asking how her day is. I find myself asking my friends about every text I get from her because she’s often extremely cryptic, and I feel like that’s a bad thing.
I like to make sure our plans are solidified when we make them a few hours before but that has occasionally gotten me a snappy “why don’t you trust that I’ll show up?” or a “forget it, if you’re going to be micromanaging me, I don’t want to hang out tonight”.
AGAIN, I want to reiterate that when we are physically IN PERSON, none of this is like this!!! We click, we laugh, we’re really cuddly and chatty and we have talked about really emotional and personal things. I feel like I really really know her, but sometimes I only feel like she wants me to display that I know her when we’re alone.
Not sure what to do. Is my relationship doomed?
Tired of “I’m Busy”
Dear Tired of “I’m Busy,”
Generally, when I give relationship advice, I don’t like to say definitively whether or not I think two people should be together. A single letter to me is only a snapshot of a relationship, and there is no way for me to know everything that is going on behind closed doors. Something that sounds troubling could just be something two people have to work through with open communication, so most of the time, I like to remain neutral. In your case, however, I need to make an exception. I think you need to end things with her.
When you really like someone, it’s easy to overlook certain bad behaviors. What you describe in your letter are not just slightly annoying habits like forgetting to text back occasionally or never refilling the Brita. Her behavior is at best, immature, and at worst, manipulative and abusive. Let me ask you these questions:
- Do you sometimes feel like you are walking on eggshells around her?
- Are you often very confused about where you stand with her?
- Does it feel like you can’t do anything right?
- Do you feel like she is ashamed of you?
- Does it feel like she is “in charge” in the relationship and everything needs to be catered to her needs and schedule?
- Do you feel she is willing to put any effort towards preserving your relationship or are you doing the lion’s share of the emotional labor?
- Does it sometimes feel like you are in a relationship with two different people: one who cares for and respects you, and one who belittles and devalues you?
If you can relate to any of these, your relationship is unhealthy. A healthy relationship means that you show each other respect, make compromises, and make time for each other. Healthy partnerships do not involve being passive aggressive, snippy, stingy with your time, or secretive. A good partner appreciates it when you make an effort to show you care like you did with her birthday, and they don’t treat you like they are doing you some big favor by making a small window of time for you. We’re all busy, but when you care about someone, you make time for them, especially when they are allegedly your girlfriend. You should not feel like you are in a relationship with an enigma where, if only you could just figure out how to please her, then everything would be perfect. I am telling you now that you could give her the moon, and she would still find something wrong with it. People who use manipulative tactics like refusing to hang out with you because you simply ask them to respect your time are not the type of people who can be pleased. She expects you to read her mind and follow some unwritten code of conduct, and if you don’t live up to her expectations, she gets pissy and won’t see you. Of course you feel terrible; this person means the world to you, and she treats you like you’re an option, not a priority. In the right relationship, you feel better about yourself, not worse. They lift you up, not tear you down.
In the right relationship, you feel better about yourself, not worse. They lift you up, not tear you down.
When and how to come out is a personal choice that you are right to respect. But any relationship where there is an attraction and connection between two individuals can thrive when it exists in a bubble. If you are only ever “together” when you are alone, you aren’t truly together. Part of being in a relationship is sharing each other’s lives, meeting each other’s friends and family, and spending time together out in the world. To truly know someone, you have to see all the parts of them, not just the 20 minute highlights reel they give you. Your relationship cannot progress forward if all you ever do with her is hang out in private on her schedule. It is suspicious to me that she is hiding such a huge part of herself from even her closest friends, especially because she introduces you as her “classmate” instead of, at the very least, her friend. Perhaps she is genuinely not ready to come out, and that’s okay; she will have to get there on her own time. But if you are going to date someone who cannot tell her friends and family about you, it’s only going to go so far, particularly when they refuse to even talk to you about it. You know who you are and you’re not hiding it which is the most profoundly brave thing you can do in this world, so you should be able to be out and proud about who you date. Being with someone who wants you to hide you is only causing you to feel ashamed, and someone who so clearly has tons of love to give deserves to give it to someone who truly appreciates it and openly returns the favor.
You’re only at the beginning of your adult life, and there are many wonderful women out there who would be happy to make time for a loving partner in the light of day and with the support of their inner circle. You may have fun with AJ when you’re alone, but if she is constantly keeping you unsure of where you stand and won’t bring your relationship out to at least her closest friends, it’s time to move on. You deserve better. Do yourself a kindness and say, to paraphrase Beyonce, “Girl, BYE.”