Where To Go From Here?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I am a gay male who has been dating someone 15 years younger than I for the last 8 months. We get along great and are always on the run doing this and that. I love what we have and how he’s always coming up with great ideas for different activities. His family has been very nice to me also. They invited me along on trips and stuff and we had a great time. He has NOT said anything to his family that we are dating. He thinks they think were just friends but I think they know the truth. Some things that I keep to myself are that he works on an ON CALL basis and doesn’t work a lot. I then tend to pay for everything when that happens which is about 85% of the time. Also, he sometimes acts like a snob and also has a lot of derogatory statements about a lot of things toward me. Also, sex has never been a strong point with us either. He says it’s because of his past. Every relationship has issues to deal with but the negative remarks have become more and more lately. He also seems to mention often that he’s never had a relationship that lasted more than a couple months and that he’s done a lot more for me that he usually would for anyone else in his past. Also, he has been a cutter in the past but never since we have been dating.

We went on vacation last week and had two HUGE fights. We went out and had quite a bit to drink and were both obviously intoxicated. I think this is important to mention because I think the drinking had a play in all that transpired. Three Long Island Ice Tea’s and then a couple glasses of wine. We went to visit a friend that my BF never met before. Within a half hour he made some comment as to how I was getting on his nerves and that he was aggravated with me. Normally this wouldn’t be a huge issue but when we got back in the car I gave him an awful verbal thrashing that, now that I think about it, was way over the top. I called him a lot of hurtful names and reiterated that I pay for everything and he treats me like garbage. The fight became to verbally abusive that he got out of the car and walked 5 miles. He eventually returned my calls and I went and picked him up. We agreed through the week to forget about it but there was obviously still a lot of tension in the air. We met a friend of his the next day and that went very well. We had a great time. Still through out the week he would correct me on everything. I would deal with it because I know that he really didn’t mean to be a jerk but it was just happening more and more. He always thinks and says that he’ll do what he wants. He says it’s all in joking but I really think he’ means it seriously.

All was going along and we finally really talked about what happened. I apologized over and over for my bad judgment and comments. We agreed to drop it and we started getting along better. The night before we left …..IT HAPPENED AGAIN. He made a few embarrassing comments to me in front of other people and I got really mad. Yes, we had a couple Long Islands, a couple Pina Coladas and then started on a Martini. This time, I said to him point blank “when are you ever going to learn to shut the **** up”. He got really mad and stormed off again. I got back to the hotel room and he was starting to pack and so did I. He started to try and explain something and I cut him off and started crying. I said that it wasn’t working and that it’s over and I try and try and I bought him on the vacation and I buy everything and he has no job and yadda yadda. He said “Oh, were gonna start that again?” I said I don’t mind doing it but he treats me like crap and I don’t deserve it. I was so upset and just kept saying he doesn’t appreciate me and all. He felt RELY bad and apologized over and over and was so upset that I was upset. He said over and over how bad he felt and that he does appreciate what I do and that he just isn’t good with showing emotions and love. He said he never received a lot when he was young and has a hard time with it. I calmed down after a while and we went to bed.
During the night we held each other a lot and slept soundly. The next morning he gave me a big hug and we started our day of finishing packing. We went and got gas and went to the bank, got something to eat and then to the airport. We were very nice to each other but the tension was obviously still there. He stated that next time we go on vacation we can’t fight like that. I agreed. Our plan was for me to fly back home and for him to fly to where he grew up and hang with his friends and family for a couple weeks.

When I got back, he text me that he arrived safely and we had a couple small chats. On Monday I sent an apology email to him stating that we obviously drank too much and I was really sorry I hurt his feelings in the manner that I did. It was a very nice, complimentary letter while still stating that I was hurt but I didn’t need to lash out the way I did. He never replied to the email, which he isn’t good at that either anyways He’s very independent in nature. I know his friends and stuff are supporting him while he’s on vacation with them so he’s sitting and relaxing and having fun I would imagine.
He doesn’t usually keep in touch a lot with me when he goes away but I haven’t heard from him in a few days now and it’s really bothering me how things were left. It’s on my mind 24/7. I don’t know what he’s thinking and I don’t know where we stand. Does he think it’s over? Is he just doing his thing? My main question is, when do I try and contact him again? I know he needs space but I figure after the email was sent, I should wait and let him relax for a bit and let him contact me. But I feel horrible and don’t know what to do at this point. I want to contact him so badly but I don’t want to be a pain either. And when I do contact him, what do I say. I am so lost and confused and yes, I still care about him a lot. How do we move past this?

A. I don’t think the two of you are on the same page. Much of this problem may stem from a lack of communication or unclear and unspoken relationship expectations. It seems that he has one idea about how to operate in the relationship and you another. You expect him to behave a certain way and he you. For instance, with regard to the e-mail you recently sent, you expected him to have responded within a certain time frame and when he didn’t you became upset. He apparently did not feel the need to respond immediately. Perhaps he thought you should be okay with the fact that he’s on vacation. Maybe he doesn’t check his e-mail while on vacation and he thinks you know this. He likely has expectations of you as well that you may be unaware of. There seems to be a need for more open and honest communication between the two of you as well as an examination of the “rules” and expectations you both have about each other’s behavior in the relationship.

It seems that the two of you really care about each other. Yes, sometimes you have fights but mainly when alcohol is involved. It could be that drinking is hurting the relationship or it may be that when the two of you drink you’re less inhibited and therefore more likely to say what’s on your mind. It could also be that when you’re drinking your judgment is impaired and you say things you normally wouldn’t. I also wonder what impact, if any, the 15-year age difference may have. It could make no difference but it may be something to explore further.

The fact that you truly seem to care about each other is a solid basis for a strong and sustainable relationship. Fundamentally the relationship seems strong but certain aspects of it are problematic. If you are both willing to put forth the effort needed to correct these issues they can be resolved but you may need outside, objective guidance in the form of therapy. If this problem cannot be resolved then you should strongly consider couples counseling. It could save the relationship.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 4 Aug 2009

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2009). Where To Go From Here?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/08/04/where-to-go-from-here/