Dear E. Jean--
My girlfriend and I have been together nearly a year now. I enjoy spending almost every minute with her, however sometimes we get into pretty heated battles and say things neither of us really mean. When it gets to that point I begin to lose interest in hanging out because, frankly, I'm tired of fighting. It always ends up being my fault in her eyes.
I’m tired of taking the blame.
Two months ago we chose to move in together. We searched for apartments, found one we liked, and put a deposit down. About three weeks before we were supposed to move, I got cold feet and backed out. I understand that it put her in a very tight position because she had to find another place to live.
The reason I made this decision was because I care about her so much that I didn’t want to risk ruining us. I wanted to give us more time and see if we could both be on level ground. Unfortunately she did not take it that way. Nor did she give me the chance to explain myself. She took it as me being “mean,” “afraid of commitment,” and that I did “not care” for her whatsoever.
So we ended-up cooling our jets. Then we talked things out and got back together. It lasted for a week, then she started into me again about how I “won't step up to the plate” and how I’m “afraid of commitment.” It almost seems to me like since I didn’t move in with her, she thinks I don't love her or care for her. It seems I have to do everything peachy, or she’ll call me out. We have only been dating a year. That’s a lot of pressure. I just need some advice, what am I missing?
To see E. Jean's answer
Of course the woman’s irked. You must be the most lovable cad in the country because I’m stunned -- stunned! -- she’s still speaking to you. You made a deal to move-in together. The girl was gaga in love, probably half-crazed with happy plans for the new apartment -- where to put the couch, whether to paint the kitchen walls Cookie Dough Cream or Cappuccino Cosmico -- then, Boom!
But Auntie Eeee, oddly, is on your side in this. You sound like a decent, semi-thoughtful guy -- an all-round bloke who’s simply fed-up to here with a pugnacious young lady who’s blaming you for everything.
I’m not saying she’s a total shrew (she has good reasons for blasting you about backing-out of the deal), but, come on. Many men would think twice about pledging eternal love to a woman who “calls them out” constantly. You possess a brain in half-bright working order -- use it. Treat her to dinner and $14 apple martinis, and tell her:
I love you. I love spending almost every minute with you. When things are good with us, they are very, very good. And, of course, you’re right, darling. I’m not ready to make a commitment. Why? I think one of the reasons may be because you constantly find fault with me.
She’ll leap-in, trying to interrupt; but do NOT let her stop you.
No. Wait. Let me finish, darling. Every time one of us tries to communicate, the love disappears. Let me speak. Yes, I agree I messed-up. And yes, I have a million faults. No. Please. Allow me to say this. I’m asking you a favor. Could you please only blame me for 99 of the things that go wrong instead of 100?
Then take it slow. And, for gawd’s sakes, have some fun. Both of you should go to the park right now, lie on your backs in the grass, and enjoy one another. Because without patience and compassion, you’ll both soon feel a stabbing, overpowering sense of estrangement.