Communicating with bf [adv]

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Post by Prajnaparamita on Fri Mar 13, 2015 5:50 pm

Some context: while I don't have all that much going on in my life atm, my boyfriend is in school full time and works nearly full time so he's often very busy. Just random bad luck, but our schedules this semester make it so we can't even meet up a bit between classes (we go to the same university) so the only day I can generally see him on is Sunday. That being said, he's been so busy even Sunday has often not worked, and recently I went a month without seeing him once. (We talk almost every day, but usually its just a two minute call during his cigarette break at work.) He called briefly today to make plans to see me again (I last saw him last Sunday) and said he was going to be gone Sunday-Monday to visit a friend and friend's parents (friend is also one of boyfriend's roommates, and he sees friend every day, though I guess he doesn't see friend's parents that much) and asked if I could do Tuesday, but I had already scheduled something 9-10 and 1-2 on Tuesday, and he has work every day (except Sunday) from like 4 or 5 until 11 pm, so plus time to get over to his place, that doesn't give us a lot of time. Anyway, I was feeling really resentful after our conversation, so after going out and reflecting on this for a few hours, I composed the following email to him. I would really appreciate whatever thoughts you have about the content/tone--I feel like I need to get this out or things are just going to get worse, but I absolutely do not want to pick a fight or come off accusatory. Because he's already at work I know he likely wouldn't see this email if I sent it now until tomorrow, so I was hoping you guys could give me some input before then. Thanks!


Dear [boyfriend],

In writing this, I fully recognize that these are my feelings—they are my problem, and my responsibility to deal with, and you don’t need to do anything about them because its not your responsibility to do anything about them. That being said, I’m writing this because sometimes when minor issues come up in our relationship—issues that I know could be quickly cleared up by just a chance to see each other or really talk, but just due to the circumstance, that’s just not possible—I sometimes get resentful, because there is this issue that’s bothering me that you’re likely not aware of that I can’t do anything about and its not going anywhere. When I feel like that, I often feel like I have to grimace through the positivity I committed to with you for our brief interactions, and that makes me feel even more resentful. Its an unfortunate vicious cycle that I’m afraid ends up seeping into our other interactions sometimes, especially when things are already strained from being long distance.

Once again, as I said, this is my problem—I don’t expect you to apologize or change your plans or anything, because things are as they are, and that’s a fact. But I think that you know that I’m a person who really values being authentic with others and being able to express myself honestly, and sometimes I have to put things out there even if I don’t expect anything from anyone for it, just so I know its out there and not bottled up inside.

I don’t know why our conversation this afternoon bothered me so much—I’ve known for quite some time now that we’re not going to be seeing each other all that much, and for the most part I’ve been okay with that, but I can imagine you could hear in my poorly concealed sulky tone of voice that I was disappointed. I imagine right now I’m doing that thing again where I see everything in black and white and blow things out of proportion and make negative assumptions, but right now I feel kind of neglected. I was trying to be flattered back then when you referred to me as a “low-maintenance girlfriend” because I believed being cool with that arrangement clearly meant that I’m all kinds of mature and open-minded and down for anything and those are all things that I ought to be. I’m likely blowing things out of proportion over Sunday-Monday, because you have a right to see your friends and have an active social life, its just that I’m used to Sunday being the only day of the week that you can see me and I try to keep it as free as possible as a result. And maybe I’m making assumptions here that aren’t actually true but when you mentioned that you have a lot of work to do over break it made me wonder if you won’t have much time after all to see me over Spring Break, which I was really hoping would be a chance for us to see each other more. I know seeing you Tuesday isn’t that much further away than seeing you Sunday, but I know it will also be a shorter time and I just feel frustrated, even if it doesn’t make any sense. (The thing I have from 1-2 by the way is an appointment with a tutor on campus so I don’t get totally overwhelmed and discouraged with this class like I have with others in the past.)

Our relationship is really important to me, and ultimately I want to hold on through this, I just wanted to let you know how I’m feeling so I don’t feel like I have to hide it. Thank you for listening.

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Post by eselle28 on Fri Mar 13, 2015 6:25 pm

That sounds fine to me. It's honest and it doesn't seem unduly unkind or accusatory.

This is probably more solution-oriented than is warranted in an email that's mostly explaining how you feel, and it might be focused more on the bit of this that would irritate me than on how you actually feel, but I think part of the problem may be that he called on Friday to let you know that he can't hang out on Sunday and wants to reschedule for Tuesday. I would say that if your current way of doing things is that he's busier so you try to schedule things around his off hours, that it would be fair to ask him to be thoughtful about making plans and give you as much notice as he can - I'm guessing you would have left Tuesday more open if you'd known ahead of time that was the day he'd have free time. It's a little off topic, but it has been a detail I've found to be pretty important to maintaining relationships where people struggle with scheduling conflicts.
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Post by Prajnaparamita on Fri Mar 13, 2015 6:34 pm

eselle28 wrote:That sounds fine to me. It's honest and it doesn't seem unduly unkind or accusatory.

Thanks!

eselle28 wrote:
This is probably more solution-oriented than is warranted in an email that's mostly explaining how you feel, and it might be focused more on the bit of this that would irritate me than on how you actually feel, but I think part of the problem may be that he called on Friday to let you know that he can't hang out on Sunday and wants to reschedule for Tuesday. I would say that if your current way of doing things is that he's busier so you try to schedule things around his off hours, that it would be fair to ask him to be thoughtful about making plans and give you as much notice as he can - I'm guessing you would have left Tuesday more open if you'd known ahead of time that was the day he'd have free time. It's a little off topic, but it has been a detail I've found to be pretty important to maintaining relationships where people struggle with scheduling conflicts.

That's, umm... Ugh. I really feel that way too, but we've had a lot of conflict about scheduling in the past, and I feel bringing that up would be another fight, because we both are the way we are. One of the ways my anxiety manifests is needing to have a plan and having everything follow that plan on time, and he's a really spur of the moment kind of guy, and he's gotten resentful in the past of me demanding to know when I can see him, because his schedule usually doesn't work out like that. I don't think he would find it very helpful for me to bring that up as a suggestion.

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Post by eselle28 on Fri Mar 13, 2015 6:38 pm

Prajnaparamita wrote:
eselle28 wrote:
This is probably more solution-oriented than is warranted in an email that's mostly explaining how you feel, and it might be focused more on the bit of this that would irritate me than on how you actually feel, but I think part of the problem may be that he called on Friday to let you know that he can't hang out on Sunday and wants to reschedule for Tuesday. I would say that if your current way of doing things is that he's busier so you try to schedule things around his off hours, that it would be fair to ask him to be thoughtful about making plans and give you as much notice as he can - I'm guessing you would have left Tuesday more open if you'd known ahead of time that was the day he'd have free time. It's a little off topic, but it has been a detail I've found to be pretty important to maintaining relationships where people struggle with scheduling conflicts.

That's, umm... Ugh. I really feel that way too, but we've had a lot of conflict about scheduling in the past, and I feel bringing that up would be another fight, because we both are the way we are. One of the ways my anxiety manifests is needing to have a plan and having everything follow that plan on time, and he's a really spur of the moment kind of guy, and he's gotten resentful in the past of me demanding to know when I can see him, because his schedule usually doesn't work out like that. I don't think he would find it very helpful for me to bring that up as a suggestion.

Ah, gotcha. Yeah, that makes things difficult.

Would it be asking too much if I asked about your parenthetical explaining that the Tuesday thing is to see your tutor? I'm a little curious if it's because he was a bit annoyed you weren't free or if it was just because you felt compelled to explain because that's how you communicate.
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Post by Prajnaparamita on Fri Mar 13, 2015 7:07 pm

eselle28 wrote:
Would it be asking too much if I asked about your parenthetical explaining that the Tuesday thing is to see your tutor? I'm a little curious if it's because he was a bit annoyed you weren't free or if it was just because you felt compelled to explain because that's how you communicate.

No, it's just that I had previously promised I would do everything I could to keep Tuesdays free, because he doesn't have class that day and we could see each other, but because he's been so busy and he still has work that night there hasn't been a Tuesday yet this semester I've been able to see him. So I guess I wanted to make it clear that I hadn't forgotten and scheduled something unimportant on that day, I think?

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Post by eselle28 on Fri Mar 13, 2015 7:09 pm

Prajnaparamita wrote:
eselle28 wrote:
Would it be asking too much if I asked about your parenthetical explaining that the Tuesday thing is to see your tutor? I'm a little curious if it's because he was a bit annoyed you weren't free or if it was just because you felt compelled to explain because that's how you communicate.

No, it's just that I had previously promised I would do everything I could to keep Tuesdays free, because he doesn't have class that day and we could see each other, but because he's been so busy and he still has work that night there hasn't been a Tuesday yet this semester I've been able to see him. So I guess I wanted to make it clear that I hadn't forgotten and scheduled something unimportant on that day, I think?

Ah, that makes sense!
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Post by StrangePanda on Fri Mar 13, 2015 10:07 pm

Prajnaparamita wrote:

One of the ways my anxiety manifests is needing to have a plan and having everything follow that plan on time, and he's a really spur of the moment kind of guy, and he's gotten resentful in the past of me demanding to know when I can see him, because his schedule usually doesn't work out like that. I don't think he would find it very helpful for me to bring that up as a suggestion.

Can I just say that your need to have a plan is not a bad thing because there are a lot of people out there who need to know at least an approximate date and time of events to come to schedule their week? I can't understand why he was resentful when you wanted to plan your time together... His schedule doesn't work that way, but what about yours, did he consider it? Him being busier than you doesn't mean you have to just do things his way and be the one to make efforts. He may be "spur of the moment" but you're not and you two are a couple.
I don't know your boyfriend but me too I would feel neglected if I was you.
Well, it's just my opinion. Shrug

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Post by Prajnaparamita on Sun Mar 15, 2015 1:14 pm

So I sent the email after I got the input from you guys (thanks!) but I still haven't heard from him yet--I think he might call today. I'm trying to go into this with a neutral outlook, and see how he responds. I really don't want this to come off as me testing him on how he reacts and his response, but I'm hoping we might be able to find ways to express our feelings and needs in a better way.

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