The Vine: February 10, 2010
So, of course, there's this Boy. My question is about whether or not it would be nuts to pursue him.
We know each other because a friend of his has been dating a friend of mine for a few years (we're all around twenty). He's very much my type, funny, sweet, and generally awesome.
So awesome that at a party a while ago, we had drunken sex. That I initiated, and he was very open to, and we both enjoyed.
So, great, right? The problem is with the next time I saw him. He does stand-up comedy, and he specifically invited me to his next show.
He told a joke about sleeping with me.
Granted, he didn't mention my name, or say anything that would make the average person connect the joke to a girl in the audience, but I and a few of my close friends recognized that it was about me.
So why am I not furious? There are mitigating circumstances. He has some pretty serious mental-health issues (of which I was already aware). In fact, he ended up being hospitalized just a few days after this incident. Turns out, he was manic at the time. He also sent me an e-mail apologizing at length.
That, and I like him quite a bit. He just got out of the hospital a couple of weeks ago, and I sort of want to contact him. Is this completely insane?
The Wording Of That Question Was Probably Inappropriate
This is a bad call. You know it's a bad call, but you're rationalizing it to yourself because you don't want to feel like bad timing, or other people's shit that has nothing to do with you, controls you or your life. I empathize completely, because I have forged ahead with questionable romantic alliances for much the same reason. However, and alas: no.
It's not because he has a mental-health issue per se; it's that he's not managing it well at the moment, and it's also that you've already started to make excuses on that basis for behavior that you find alienating and hurtful. And you've had sex once. You shouldn't have this many negative variables this early on.
Is it always going to be a bad call? No. Do you have to cut him off or do anything else dramatic? No. But you do have to recognize and accept that sometimes bad timing is exactly that, bad, and cannot be brought to heel by anything except waiting for better timing. You want to keep hanging out with the guy, keep it friendly, see how it develops for him, sure, go for it. But someone has to be responsible for your feelings here, and it isn't going to be him right now.
It's not insane that you're not furious (an incident like this is a known risk when you get involved with writers and comedians, right or wrong); it's not insane to want to contact him and see how he's doing. Any involvement beyond that right now is…well, I wouldn't use the word "insane," but "ill-advised" would cover it. Set a wide boundary, and observe it scrupulously.
I have a bit of a friend/family dilemma and I'm not sure who's right here. Trying to keep this as concise as possible, I have three friends from high school (we were all really close) and while we all currently live away from each other, we've met up for a girls' weekend every year for the past three years. We're kind of split as a group between two major metropolitan areas, so we rotate every year as to who goes where and split the travel costs between all of us.
This year it's in my area, which will still involve an hour drive to get to where we're all supposed to stay. I have a daughter who is about a year and a half old and my husband doesn't understand why I need to be gone for an entire weekend to see my friends. He's fine with me going to see my friends, but thinks I should come home at night so as not to traumatize our child. Currently I am home with her a majority of the time and am always the one who does bedtime and such because my husband works shift work and often isn't home.
So while he's fine taking care of our little girl for a weekend (with backup babysitters in place since he will likely have to work that weekend), he doesn't think I should be gone for two nights. He says she won't be able to understand why I'm gone and even if I don't get home at night to put her to bed, that she'll at least be comforted when she sees me in the morning.
He also thinks that any trips away from home should be family trips now that we have a family. I can kind of understand his point there — I went across the country last year to see my friends when our daughter was under a year old (he wasn't thrilled about that, either) and we have yet to take an actual trip as a family. And thinking back to my childhood, I don't remember either of my parents ever going anywhere overnight alone unless it was for work.
The driving back and forth would be a hassle, but my main worry is feeling left out of the "girls' weekend" because I'm not there with them at night. And I'm a little worried about the backlash I might get from them. So, first question is, am I being unreasonable to continue this tradition with my friends or should I compromise with my husband and come home at night?
The second question stems from something my husband asked. I'm the only one out of my group to have a child, so my husband asked why my friends couldn't be a little accommodating and come spend part of a day here where we live (again, just an hour away from where everyone is going to be)? Since one of my friends has yet to meet our daughter, he thought she would want to meet her anyway.
Here's the complicated part. One of my friends, Meg, has been trying to get pregnant for about a year now and has not had any luck. She's suffered a couple of miscarriages and is understandably pretty devastated by the whole thing. So one of my other friends in the group pretty much told me that there wouldn't be any trips to my house because Meg isn't going to want to be around any kids.
I was so taken aback I just kind of agreed, but once I hung up the phone and processed it, I was kind of shocked. I mean, my daughter was born before Meg even started trying to get pregnant and at one time she called herself an "aunt," and now seeing my daughter will cause her to be too upset? Plus, I'm assuming my friend who has never met my daughter would like to see her. It's the first time she's going to be in the area in two years and she'll only be an hour away, but because of Meg she won't.
I'm not saying that our girls' weekend should be spent hanging around my house with my kid, but I'm wondering if maybe my husband is right when he says they're kind of treating me like crap. I feel like I'd have to pretend I don't have a child for a weekend. I mean, if Meg doesn't want to see her, she's probably not going to want me to talk about her either. And she's pretty much the biggest part of my life, so that kind of limits what I can talk about. I really try not to be one of those moms who can't talk about anything but the kids, but this seems a little over the top.
Oh, and did I mention that I haven't talked to Meg in six months? The whole time she's been going through all this, I've been calling and emailing with no response. She's talked to our other friends, but I've been limited to the occasional group email and I can only assume it has something to do with my daughter. I've been pretty hurt by that, but I've been trying to be understanding since she's obviously going through a hard time.
So, the second question is, are my friends being kind of ridiculous with the whole "no kids" thing when it comes to my daughter or am I just being overly sensitive?
Trying to be a good mom, wife, and friend
First question: no, I don't think it's unreasonable, and I think you already have compromised with your husband. The two of you need to talk about what's really bothering him here, whatever it is: he's worried about the baby, he's worried he can't handle her by himself, he's a creature of routine who doesn't like changes to how things usually go.
None of this is "wrong," but if he's parsing this as an issue of your daughter's emotional comfort…I don't know. Isn't it better for her to spend an occasional night without you, and get used to it? Isn't it better to accustom her to occasional changes in her routine so they don't overwhelm her every time? Every kid is different, but if Daddy has to do the bedtime ritual for a couple of nights, it's probably not going to kill her, and if she cries for you, well, that's not going to kill her either. Daddy kind of needs to learn to cope with that eventuality, methinks.
But you and your husband need to have a longer discussion about these expectations generally. I myself think it's eminently healthy for partners to have parts of their lives that are theirs alone — girls' weekends, solo mini-cations, whatever — and would feel suffocated by the assumption that every moment outside of work must be spent as a family. Other people need that togetherness and feel lost without it. The trick is to come together with your husband on who needs what and how that will work.
Second question: I kind of can't answer this, because Meg herself seems pretty determined to avoid the discussion. I would suggest that you just call her up and try to clear the air, but it sounds like you've tried that and she's avoiding you. That said, I would try once more with an email, written as gently as you can manage, saying that you don't want to bring up a touchy subject, but you're hearing things secondhand from this other friend, you've been instructed that the baby is unwelcome socially and conversationally, and you want to respect her feelings, but you…don't actually know her feelings.
It's fine to try to accommodate her need to avoid painful reminders, but Meg is your friend, so is this other friend, and this is your child; I see where everyone's coming from with trying to protect Meg, but maybe it's time to point out that it's not without cost to you — especially since Meg herself hasn't told you anything, about anything, in half a year. And it's definitely time to point out that, if Meg has an issue with you, or with you having a kid when she does not, then it's really Meg who needs to address that with you.
I mean, yes, your friends are being a little melodramatic with this, I think, and the assumption that you will spend the entire 48 hours banging on about rice cereal and Dr. Spock is dumb and pretty insulting. Some parents do do this; most parents have cable, and opinions about things besides toileting strategies.
You might consider not attending this girls' weekend, actually — not because it makes it easier for everyone else, although I guess it does, but because it makes it easier for you. You don't have to deal with your husband's disapproval, or drive back and forth, or walk on eggshells around Meg, et cetera and so on. But if you decide not to go, you should spend the time addressing the issues it raises. Tell your friend you don't want her speaking for the group anymore; if Meg has something to say, she can say it, and so can the others, but you read and watch movies and you can speak to other topics besides the baby, thanks ever so. Tell your husband that he should take a bigger role in your daughter's bedtime when he's around; tell him that, sometimes, you need girl time with your other friends, and it's not a rejection of the family — it's you doing something to recharge so that you can bring more to the family.
And tell yourself, while you're up, that you're doing the best you can and you're not going to please everyone. Compassion and kindness don't mean you have to let other people decide who you are.
I've been in a relationship with F. for almost 9 months. We were friends first, then became fuck-buddies — though it only took a week before we became an actual couple. But I fucked up: three weeks after we got together, one of our common friend kissed me while we were both drunk, and F. came in the room and saw us. It was a stupid, one-time mistake, and all I can say in my defense is that I was drunk and that it lasted maybe two seconds.
F. just acted as if he hadn't seen anything, then listened to us when we apologized. I offered to break things off between us (and go back to being friends if he wanted to) if he couldn't forgive me or get past it, but he insisted that we stay together. Over the next week, I asked several times if he was certain about his decision, and every time he told me he didn't want us to break up. So I stopped talking about it, thanked God I had found such a wonderful guy who would forgive me, and went on to have the best relationship I've ever had.
But four months later, during an idiotic fight, he suddenly told me that he was thinking about it all the time and that it was killing him, that I had "cheated" on him and that he wished he would have punched each of us and left back then.
I was probably extremely naive, but I honestly never saw it coming. And since then, not a week has gone by without him throwing it in my face, either randomly whenever I mention anything that might remind him of that day — for instance, just the name of the alcohol we were drinking — or whenever we have a fight, even if it's about something completely different.
I love F. and would do anything to be with him, and I'm honestly sorry and hate myself for hurting him — but recently I've started thinking: was it really so bad that it warranted such a reaction? Sars, we had been "serious" for only 10 days, and it was a drunken-2-seconds kiss, and since then I've done everything I could to make him happy.
But he keeps talking about it, again and again, going on fights that last for hours (where it's basically just him talking about it). He says it's destroying him, but it's starting to destroy me too, and I don't know what to do. When we're not talking about it we're so good together, and I don't want to lose him, but I feel like I'm being constantly punished and I don't know how long I can take it. I've asked several times if he wanted to break up (while making it clear I wouldn't, if it was up to me), since he says he's hurting so much and I don't want that, but he never has.
I accept that I did a wrong thing and that he might not forgive me — but I'm a firm believer that, if you forgive someone, you shouldn't keep bringing up their past mistakes. I've tried talking to him about it, but he's made it clear he's the victim and I have no right to be hurt or say anything about it, so now I just shut up and avoid all of the subjects of conversation that might bring it up, then keep quiet and apologize when he's talking about it.
What can I do, Sars? I'm afraid talking will only lead to a break-up, but is there any chance waiting and hoping will do the trick?
Guilty But Hurting
It should lead to a break-up — initiated by you. He's blackmailing you emotionally, and you're permitting it.
It is past time for you to make it clear to him that either he forgives you and finds a way to get past it, or you will leave. You are sorry that it happened, you are sorry you hurt him, and he doesn't have to forgive you if he doesn't want to, or can't — but if he doesn't decide to move on from it, you are done.
Do it the next time he brings it up. Stay calm, but don't let him talk over you; say your piece, and give him to understand that you will not have this discussion anymore. Leave the room if he starts in on it again; leave the room every time. Hang up the phone, get your shoes on, whatever it takes — he keeps harping on this because he can, so get it through his head that he can't. And if he gets all "WELL FINE THEN JUST GO YOU OBVIOUSLY DON'T CARE ABOUT ME YOU CHEATY HAG," he's doing it because he knows you don't want him to think of you that way, and you'll cave. Don't. You're better than being spoken to like that.
No: you are. You made a mistake, you've done your time, you're better than that. I get that nobody wants to see that, and I get that the image is hard to scrub from your brain, but: "destroying him"? Come on. He's playing on your guilt, and I think you have to forgive yourself, and let him stop holding your toes to the flame for a drunken smooch. If it were worth ending the relationship over, he'd have done that; he's had opportunities. He doesn't, because this way is better for him. This way, he can manipulate you.
That'll quite do. He lets this go, or you will go your own self. You will not hear about it anymore; if he persists, you will break things off. However "good you are together" aside from this, it isn't genuine, because you know this argument is always lurking, and you know he's set it up so you can't win. No good. Either he loves you enough to make himself get over it or he doesn't, and I know you dread finding out which it is, but like I said: better than that.Put your foot down and get it over with.
Tags: boys (and girls) friendships