I am a 26-year-old female, and I’ve been with my boyfriend for almost five years. Our relationship is pretty good for the most part, but I’m having a few reservations. I don’t really know how to broach this subject, because I feel like I may just be being a bratty little princess. But here goes.
I feel like I’m at the bottom of my boyfriend’s priority list. He’ll stay up until 5 AM working on something, but he won’t sacrifice an hour to do something with me. He leaves for work around 9:30 AM and most nights doesn’t come home until 10 PM. Every household expense must be split exactly 50-50, regardless of the fact that he makes four times what I make. If I eat a little more than my fair share he makes me pay him back. He has a car and I don’t, but he’ll only give me a lift somewhere (like work) if he’s already going that way–and he still makes me pay for gas. He doesn’t bat an eyelash at spending $2,500 on new stereo equipment but put a $50 cap on my birthday dinner, saying, “If it goes over $50 you’re paying the rest.”
If I’m stranded out in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night and call him crying (this actually happened), he’ll tell me to try my other friends first; if none of them can come I can call him back and he’ll come get me–but I’m paying for gas.
We only have sex when he’s in the mood. Then, if I want to change position because I don’t like being twisted like a pretzel, he gets angry and stops. So if I want it I just have to pretend it doesn’t hurt to have my legs pushed so far back they’re gonna pop out of my hip sockets.
He wants me to go to college, which I’m doing this September, so I asked him if he would let me pay slightly less than 50-50 for rent so I could afford it. His response was “Lots of people put themselves through college. Why should you get any special treatment?”
Here’s the thing, though: isn’t it only fair to split our expenses 50-50? And isn’t it fair for him to ask me for gas money when he does all the driving? Can I expect a man to spend more on me than I can spend on him? Not that I want to be showered with expensive gifts and lavish vacations–I just want to feel like I’m worth something, you know? Am I being selfish? –Stressed and Depressed
If you’re a new reader, SAD, you may not be familiar with this handy acronym: DTMFA. It stands for “Dump the motherfucker already,” and halfway through your letter I started muttering it under my breath. By the end I was screaming “DTMFA” at my laptop. On an airplane.
Look, SAD, this isn’t a relationship. It’s a hostage situation. Your boyfriend is an asshole. Wait, maybe I’m not being fair–to assholes, which are as delightful as they are functional. Your boyfriend is a piece of shit, a loose stool, a santorum slick. And you, my dear, have the worst case of lousy-relationship-induced Stockholm syndrome I’ve ever encountered. Stockholm syndrome–when a hostage begins to identify with, and feel sympathy for, her captor–is the only possible explanation for the final paragraph of your letter, in which you meekly justify your boyfriend’s appalling behavior. Stop identifying with your captor! Stop making excuses for the way he treats you! DTMFA!
To steel your resolve to leave this piece of shit, SAD, let me clue you in to a few secrets of healthy relationships. Where a large income disparity exists, household expenses are split based on each individual’s means. If he makes four times what you make, he should pay–and pay gladly–80 percent of the household expenses, while you pay 20 percent. By insisting on a 50-50 split, your boyfriend is treating you like a roommate, not a girlfriend.
Moving on, a boyfriend is someone who comes to your aid when you need him. If you get stuck somewhere and you call him, he jumps out of bed and comes to help you. He doesn’t tell you to call everyone else you know, or leave you standing out there in the rain. He certainly doesn’t hit you up for gas money.
I could go on and on, SAD. Sex? A loving boyfriend may make special requests about positions–hell, he can make demands and a good girlfriend can as well–but he does not force his girlfriend’s body into uncomfortable positions against her wishes, and he doesn’t withhold sex to punish her if she refuses to consent to being so abused. College? Yes, lots of people put themselves through college–but lots of people have partners who helped them out when they were paying their way through college. Birthday dinners? Only a piece of shit threatens his less-well-off girlfriend with having to pay the difference if her birthday dinner goes over $50.
DTMFA, SAD, DTMFA! You can do better–hell, being alone would be better than being with this asshole. DTMFA!
I’ve been engaged to Max for a year. We’ve been together for four. We have a six-month-old baby. Last spring we tried living together, but by fall I moved out because Max wasn’t coming home for several hours after work every day. He would go over to his friend Renaldo’s house instead, leaving me to care for our child all day and night. I am a full-time student, and I need his help! I just found out that Renaldo is gay. Max seemed surprised as well. However, he’s still going over to his house. Max is very comfortable with gays, and despite not living together, our sex life is good–no noticeable changes.
Dan, is my fiance gay? Tell me before I marry him! –He’s Out More Often
Gay? Dunno. Inconsiderate, unreliable, lousy partner, neglectful parent? Yes, yep, yup, and yeah. Shall we set aside the whole pole-smokin’ issue, HOMO, and focus on what’s really going on here? If this is how your fiance treats you when you’re engaged and have a new baby, how the fuck do you think he’s going to treat you after you’ve been married for a few years? You too need to DTMFA, HOMO. DTMFA!
A point of personal privilege: I’ve mentioned a certain ex of mine in this space a number of times over the years. Tommy Ladd was the kind of person everyone should hook up with when they’re first becoming sexually active. He was as wise as he was sexy, as kind as he was funny. He was older but not too much older, cynical but not jaded. We were only together for one semester at college–but oh what a semester. Tommy was comfortable with sex in a way that I wasn’t, and to this day I’m grateful to him for beating–sometimes literally–the hang-ups out of me. Tommy died suddenly last month. The planet is a less interesting place without you on it, Tommy.