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Is this relationship worth saving?

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  April 28, 2010 09:21 AM

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You'll notice that there are discussion boards -- or champagne rooms, as I like to call them -- on the side of our page. Feel free to enjoy them. I was reading them last night. Very amusing.

In other news, our next Love Letters event is officially June 4. We'll be co-hosting the party with Extra Bases. Love and baseball. It will be like a Kevin Costner movie. More details to come.

Today is chat day.

Oh -- and before I forget, check out the cover story of the food section.

Q: Oh Meredith,

I'm stuck in a very painful spot in my relationship. We've been together for almost two years and we couldn't be farther apart from one another. A few months into our relationship when things were still new and unsure, I committed an indiscretion. After much pain and turmoil, we pushed past it and tried to make things work. We moved in together a few months later.

Almost a year since we moved in, we've become more like roommates than partners. We are very different people (which I knew would be an issue) but it's reaching a breaking point. He's very compartmentalized, shows little to no emotion, and justifies it by saying that emotion is a waste of energy. He's had a painful few years, lost his mother the summer before we met, and has constant family tension.

I'm an artist by nature, emotional and sentimental. We've had numerous conversations about our relationship and differences over the past few months. He's made countless remarks that degrade my sentimentality and emotion, simply because he doesn't understand it. Talks turned into emotional fits (on my part) and that spawned his anger about my "waste of energy."

I bought a new computer, (I had been without one for months) and he is suspicious of everything I do. I've been open and honest with him about everything, yet he still gives me suspicious looks and makes comments.

I'm trying to let my actions speak in showing my devotion and love for him, but it's come to the point where I feel like I'm beating my head against the brick wall he lives in.

I want to regain the passion and magic that we once had, but a recent health issue has made grilled cheese non-existent. I also feel my attempts at romance go completely unnoticed, even when he says he appreciates it. I know my actions are still the big elephant in the room, but after months of attempts at romance and feeling like I'm getting nothing in return, should I press on and try to find our common ground or accept that no matter how much I love him, he's not the right person for me?

– At the end of my rope, Jamaica Plain


A: ATEOMR, you forgot to give us the list of the things you like about him. You forgot to tell us the good stuff. What was so great about him in the beginning? What made you want to stay with him after your early indiscretion?

I fear that what keeps you around is guilt -- and your need to make things right even when they aren't. You weren't into him enough in the beginning to be faithful, but you went out of your way to prove to him that you wanted to work through it. Since then, he has dismissed your feelings and made you feel bad about your natural temperament, but you've done your best to keep the relationship afloat. You've gotten used to treading water and doing constant repairs to make things work. Sounds exhausting.

I don't like telling people to break up. It feels wrong, especially when I don't have all of the details. But I will say that your letter is quite telling. Many letter writers feel the need to give me a long list of their partner's qualities before telling me what's wrong. Your letter, on the other hand, is basically a list of bad things without any good. Does that mean there wasn't much good to begin with? I have no idea. It certainly means that you're not seeing much good in the present.

Your homework: Make a list of your partner's positive attributes, all of the things you forgot to tell us about. Don't just make it in your head -- use a pen and paper. As you write down each attribute, make note of when you last saw him exhibit that attribute. If you haven’t seen these positive characteristics since the very beginning of your relationship, it may be time for a change.

And for the record, I don’t think your indiscretion is the big elephant in the room. It's the small elephant in the room. The big elephant is your inherent differences, the fact that you partner thinks your feelings are a "waste of energy."

Readers? What can we glean from the lack of positivity in his letter? Is this about his early indiscretion? Is our letter writer simply over-sensitive? Should the letter writer’s guy get a pass because he’s had so many life issues? Discuss.

– 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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