Spending time with my boyfriend is detriMENTAL to me.
His lack of self-control sets me on edge. His perpetual self-medication with alcohol and weed stresses me out. His shoddy attempts at self care worry me. His zombie-like Uber Eats orders have me in throes of anxiety. That's my own deal. But I'm worried about him - he clearly has issues he needs to address. I want to be there for him.
But I can't be any help when I'm on the brink of panic attack and longing for my own, clean room. His lack of control makes me feel like I am not in control of my own emotions, because it bugs me so much.
What do I do? Selfishly cut loose to focus on staying on my own happy path? Or should I stick around, bravely knowing I have my long time best friend and lover's back, no matter the cost?
Love, Anxious gf seeks advice for her own fine self (selfishly?)
Ugh. This sounds desolate.
All I know about your boyfriend is that he’s making you miserable. Of course, I can’t see and feel all the ways you love him and care about him, because you didn’t say anything positive about him. You designed it that way. And that’s OK, because it’s honest.
Let’s pull back for a second and talk about what constitutes selfishness here. It seems to me that you are confusing “being selfish” for “having self-respect,” and I would urge you to reconsider your terminology within this context.
Failing to care of yourself, and making your well-being (which is your own responsibility) somebody else’s problem; self-medicating instead of confronting your actual problems.
Valuing yourself enough to carve your own path to happiness by eliminating negative patterns, and respectfully setting boundaries with toxic people, people who are currently “toxic-ing,” and refusing to be entrained into a cycle of codependency.
Do you see what I’m getting at???
I will say, as a blanket statement about your relationship and romantic relationships in general: if you are miserable in the relationship, you do not have to stay.
Do your work, do your best to make it better, be willing to lay yourself bare, be willing to look at your own faults honestly, be open to change, be responsible for your obligations, be accountable for your actions, interrogate the misery, interrogate your expectations, but if your misery persists, end it.
Too often, we are concerned with what’s “fair” or “unfair” when it comes to love. But the terrifying, beautiful fact of the whole thing is that these metrics simply do not apply. Not everything has a reason.
There’s a fine line between problems that are actually solvable and problems that are simply dysfunction. It's unethical and unkind to drop one's partner like a hot potato the moment things get real. Yeet! This potato! It's too goddamn hot for me!! (?) But it's also unethical and unkind to yourself to force yourself to weather dysfunction.
It is the POV of me, Pussy Writer, that energetically cosigning on dysfunction and toxic patterning does damage to one's immortal soul, harms each and every one of one's chakras, and is generally bad for one's physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and energetic health. Dont @ me.
If we are going to attempt to define the fine line-- the ethical line-- to determine, "should I stay or should I go?" (da-na-na-na-na-na-na-na), the best litmus test is to look at each partner’s level of buy-in. If each partner is showing up equally hard at fairly equitable levels of hardness, you've got yourself a potentially viable romantic partnership. If only one partner is showing up, regardless of hardness, you've got yourself a pile of fuckin' trash.
Let’s work through the particulars.
In relation to your boyfriend, we can talk about addiction, and we can talk about mental illness and depression, and we can talk about immaturity, and each of these afflictions has a different color, a different set of horrors and miseries and possibilities in terms of recovery and growth.
But the only thing that really matters here is whether or not you want to be a part of it.
Maybe you want different things from your life than getting stoned and ordering Uber Eats? That’s OK and fine, and doesn’t necessarily make what he’s doing “bad,” either.
But, it behooves you not to minimize the impact drugs and alcohol are having in your boyfriend’s life, and yours. Addiction is a scary word, and most of us are uncomfortable applying it to those close to us unless they are living in extreme ruin.
But addiction can also look really normal.
Weed is, of course, one of the least harmful drugs you can fuck around with (and truly, S/0 to its medicinal properties-- S/O anxiety, S/O insomnia. S/O PMDD) but it’s honestly suuuuuuch bullshit when people say it’s not addictive.
In the words of angel-human Frank Ocean, “Rolling marijuana that’s a cheap vacation.”
Human beings can get addicted to literally anything, (remember those people on My Strange Addiction who were addicted to coffee enemas?!?) and escapism is one helluva drug, in all its forms.
If your partner is problematically drinking, is in a cycle of addiction and escapism that they are not willing to acknowledge, confront, or deal with, there is nothing you can do to help; sticking around for more of this would be harmful to you, and ultimately harmful to him.
Explaining to your boyfriend that enabling his unhealthy behaviors crosses your self-respect boundaries is perfectly fine. Maybe losing you will open his eyes, but his drinking and addictive behaviors are not your problems and you can’t fix them.
If your partner is actively reigning in his dysfunctional drinking, dealing with addiction, seeking help, going to therapy, working on accountability, taking responsibility, etc., you can-- if you want to-- stick around for this.
Stability is really important for people in recovery, and if you can be there for him, that might bring you closer together, and open a new chapter in your relationship.
Similarly, if your partner is depressed/ experiencing mental illness and is not willing to seek help, you are not required to remain his girlfriend.
You can be there for him, you can help, and, if I may use the word “should,” you should offer to remain present and mean it, and you should do your best to let him know that he has your support. But you don’t have to sign your life, your time, your heart over to someone who is not capable of reciprocating your love. You have needs, too.
Simply, if you want to create some ethical rules to follow, your presence in his life is dependent on whether or not he chooses to work on himself.
And/ or, follow your own goddamn rules, girl! Do whatever you want.
All’s fair. Nothing’s fair.