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Living with Debbie Downer

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  March 10, 2010 09:27 AM

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Chat at 1.

This one is from a woman. Not that it matters. I just didn't want you to spend half the day confused by the line about PMS.

Q: Wonderful Meredith,

I am 23, my girlfriend is 27 (I am her first relationship- not first serious, first ever), and we moved in together after dating for 8 months. Before we moved in last month, everything was great. I was in a relationship with someone who was fun to be around, if not quite as outgoing and optimistic as me. I knew that she had a tendency towards pessimism, but it was nothing that affected our relationship to any appreciable degree.

But since we've been cohabitating, it has. I rarely want to be around her because it seems like nothing ever goes right. Her days are always bad, something is always wrong, she's never going to be worth anything, college is pointless because she'll never get a good job anyway, et cetera. She's easily frustrated, and curses or sighs or groans the second something doesn't go right (we're talking something as little as her internet connection disconnecting for a minute).

My usual way of helping someone out is to logic my way through it, so if she's feeling useless, I try to tell her why she isn't, even using her achievements as examples, but she usually ends up mumbling vaguely affirmative noises and seemingly feeling worse (which is quite distressing for me). I'm very confident and upbeat, and I think the fact that she's not is really hurting our relationship. By which I actually mean ... making me want out.

The question is, what do I do? We signed an 18-month lease but over the course of the first month, I've become completely disenchanted with actually living with her. Do I grin and bear it and hope it gets better? Do I suggest therapy? Do I leave her, when there's no way she could pay for the apartment without me? Do I kick her out, back to her parents' house an hour away from her school?

I should mention that we spent this past weekend with friends and I had a great time. It felt just like it did before we moved in together. But on Monday, my feelings reverted back to a general exasperation with being around her. I'm sure some people will suggest talking to her, but the thing is, the one time I talked with her about our relationship not being perfect it ended with her crying and me retracting what I'd said, attributing it to PMS. I'm really at a loss here.

Help, please. I have a feeling that some commenters may label me as selfish, but I think it would be just as selfish to continue basically avoiding her. I'm just not sure what the best thing to do would be, or if there's a way to squash these downer feelings and get the spark back that I'm just not seeing.

– Feeling Like Quite the Insensitive Cad



A: FLQTIC, you're not being insensitive. She's a total downer.

Your problem might remind readers of this guy's problem, but your issue is very different. This isn't just about listening to someone unload after a bad day. It's about finding out that you may be incompatible with someone you've grown to love over eight months.

I have this suspicion that she's not happy with the relationship either, whether she admits it or not. Is it possible that she has behaving like a bummer because she's having trouble adjusting to the living situation? Is it possible that she's grunting and whining because the whole thing doesn't feel right? Just a thought. Sometimes we sabotage relationships when we know they don't feel right for forever.

You have to do your part and tell her how you've been feeling. If she freaks and cries, well, that's evidence that she isn't capable of allowing a problem to be about you. And if that's the case, I'd consider breaking that very long lease. If she does respond well and makes promises to consider her negativity, give it a few months. See how it goes.

But if it doesn't get better, move out. Your landlord will deal. You're way too young and this relationship is way too new for you to start making do with what you have, even if it makes you miserable. She's inexperienced, so she gets some benefit of the doubt. But if she doesn't listen and do what's necessary to make things work, she's making a choice for both of you.

At nine months or so into a relationship, it's supposed to be kind of fun.

Readers? What can the letter writer do to fix this? Am I right to think that her girlfriend might be sabotaging the relationship because she secretly wants out? Should the letter writer move out? Who signs an 18-month lease? Help.

– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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