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1. Why he takes any dissatisfaction from me as reproach. If I express that my needs are not being fulfilled in some specific way, or that I have any dissatisfaction with anything he does whatsoever, he accuses me of “reproaching” him. I can’t dislike any single thing he does without it being perceived as rejection of his entire being.

2. Why we are not allowed to complain. Every single time he expresses dissatisfaction about something I have done or hints that some need of his is not being fulfilled, he follows it up with “I am not complaining.” Yes, you are! YOU ARE FUCKING COMPLAINING! And you know what, that’s ok! It’s ok to complain once in a while, that’s how we make our needs known and get them fulfilled. If you never fucking complain how can I ever know when I am doing something wrong? And if you DO complain but refuse to own the complaint, well that’s just slimy. For the longest time, I felt somehow wrong and guilty for expressing myself because this litany of “I am not complaining” got me believing that somehow I am wrong and bad to have any complaints in this relationship. I have gotten over that and have now taken to following up any complaint I express with “and I AM complaining” just because it should NOT BE A FUCKING CRIME TO COMPLAIN!

3. His insistence that I am always assuming the worst of him. If I misunderstand, ask clarification, if something happens that I don’t like, I am “always assuming the worst” or always “accusing” him. Technology creates misunderstandings sometimes, and one of these happened the other day when the chat client we were using lost some of his messages to me. The responses I did get made it sound like he was basically telling me to fuck off. I got upset. Later, when the messages were clarified, he even said he understood why I would be upset based on what I saw coming from him in response to what I was asking. But it was only half his message, so it was inaccurate and my upset response was inappropriate. I admitted I was wrong, said was sorry, said I misunderstood. “You are always expecting the worst of me,” he says. “No, not always, but sometimes yes.” It’s a fact. We don’t always assume the best in our partners. And our partners are not always giving us their best. Sometimes I am an ass. Sometimes he is an ass. So why is it such an insult for me to sometimes think he is being an ass when he’s not?  The very next day he nearly broke up with me over it, claiming I hadn’t apologized for misunderstanding and that he is sick of me assuming the worst of him. He said something has to change. I admitted that I won’t always see him through rose colored glasses, so that’s off the table, and asked if this is a deal breaker for him, would he like to break up? No break up, he said, but something has to change. I asked him what, precisely, tell me now what must change. He said “you tell me” and “what do you think?” “You came to me with this complaint and you are the one saying something has to change,” I answered. “I was doing fine with the occasional misunderstanding and that we might not always see each other as blameless or perfect. I am not the one saying something must change, so I can’t tell you what should change here.” He backpedaled. “You’re right, I am sorry, there is nothing that needs changing. Please forget those phrases and that whole part of the conversation.” I might understand, if I really was constantly on his case about things, but I am not. I barely ever say anything negative or question him about anything. This little misunderstanding was the first occasion of any issue between us in 3 or 4 weeks. And the original issue really was little, taking barely 15 mins before it was clear and, I thought, resolved.

4. Why questions he can’t answer immediately must always be left hanging in the air. If I ask something he doesn’t immediately know the answer to, he doesn’t reply that he doesn’t know yet, or that he’ll get back to me in a while about it. Instead, he ignores the question entirely and talks about entirely unrelated things. It’s nerve racking. Sometimes, if I wait long enough, he will suddenly answer the question a few minutes or hours later. When I have asked him “why aren’t you answering the question?” he often answers that he doesn’t know the answer yet, so I know that’s what’s probably going on in most cases. But it drives me insane. When I ask him to please let me know when this is the case, he gets mad. Why should he have to? he asks. It makes me feel ignored, and sometimes he really isn’t answering because he didn’t get the message or is avoiding the question, so how do I know which it is if he doesn’t qualify his non-response? Alas, here I am assuming the worst again… It’s a vicious circle, so I just give up and wait, trying to forget that I gave a shit about the answer in the first place so as not to tear my hair out.

5. Why questions he does answer must always be answered by another question. It doesn’t matter how serious the question I am asking is. “What are you hungry for?” gets the same kind of response as “did you have sex with your ex yesterday?” The answer, if there is one, is always another question. “What are YOU hungry for?” “Why are you always assuming the worst of me?” Well, maybe because you have never given me a straight fucking answer in your life, so I have to assume you’re dodging something!

6. His reaction to “thank you.” It seems like such a simple thing – someone offers to do something for you or does something for you and you thank them. This is just my upbringing – I was taught to express appreciation for being helped or provided for. But it bugs the hell out of him. I think if I removed “thank you” from my vocabulary entirely, it would be ok for him. He accuses me of being “polite”, of responding by rote, not being genuine. For example, I am not feeling well, and so decline an invitation to lunch with him and his kids. He asks if I need anything. I say not that I can think of. He says let him know if I think of something. I say, “Will do. Thank you.” Uh oh – here comes the lecture. “It’s not something you should thank me for. I don’t offer just to receive appreciation. It is from my desire to help.” In the past, I’ve tried to explain. “Sorry, I am just expressing gratitude for your desire to help.” But that just gets more lecture. Desire to help isn’t something that should be thanked for, he says. Don’t be so polite, he says. Don’t be so fake. Jesus Christ, really? So how am I SUPPOSED to respond? And why is saying “thank you” such a goddamn offense?

7. His reaction to “you’re welcome.” Same thing. He made such a fit about my saying “you’re welcome” when he thanks me (because apparently it is ok for HIM to thank ME, just not the other way around) that I finally stopped using the term at all around him. Now I’ll say “hope you feel better,” he’ll say “thank you,” and I’ll just be silent. It feels uncomfortable, because I am taught that it’s kind of impolite to leave such a thing hanging. And sometimes it does get me an accusation of being silent or non-responsive, but I really have no idea what else I can say except “you’re welcome.” I’ve asked him what is an acceptable response, but he won’t answer – just says “you shouldn’t change yourself.” Well I sure as hell don’t want the result I get when I don’t alter my responses, so I see little choice.

8. His scrutiny on choice of words. For instance, the other day he was sick, but then decided he might be able to come out to lunch. Suddenly changed his mind, said he feels too sick, but maybe he can come out later for dinner. I said, “OK, if you’re up to it.” Oops, apparently the meaning of this phrase is too vague. He responded angrily, “I told you I am not now, but I don’t know if I will be later!” I just said “OK.” I really don’t know how to respond when he blows up over something like this. For a few mins, I thought it was dropped, felt a little relieved. But then here it comes back again. “What does that phrase mean? “If you’re up to it? Does it refer to desire or feasibility?” “It refers to your health,” I answered. And then commenced another 15 mins of questions and answers related to the meaning of “If you’re up to it” and how it does or does not differ from “If you want to” or “If you can.” I am exhausted.

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