Reward for Patience?
Q: I have been in this long-distance relationship for 13 years (New Orleans-Chicago). I have been very patient. I'm 47, and I've been married twice. He is 54 and never married. He does not help me with any bills, and I don't expect him to, although I'm a single mother with no support from exes either. We visit each other about once a month. We have some issues about some things but for the most part things are good. My question is this: I'm traveling to Chicago tomorrow where it's very cold. He called to tell me he was going to borrow a heavy coat from his sister for me, because he says I don't wear the proper clothes for the cold. That's not true, and anyway his sisters and I don't share the same style, nor do I borrow clothes. I told him please don't do that. I was later thinking about what he said and I thought, if you are worried about me getting cold, go buy me a coat. I would have done that for him. When I, somewhat joking, mentioned to him to just go buy me one, he became very mad and said some ugly things. Keep in mind that I, at times, pay my own airfare, etc. I'm happy eating sandwiches instead of going to dinner. He has race horses, no kids, etc., so when he got mad and told me he wasn't wealthy and if that is what I'm looking for go someplace else. I'm upset and really ready to call this quits because I ask for nothing. Am I just a witch or did he overreact? -- Pat, 47
Dr. Susan: There's a difference between patience and rolling over and playing dead. What, in fact, are you waiting so patiently FOR? This man is not going to change into anything other than what he is: a stingy, set-in-his-ways bachelor who has what he wants in life and who doesn't like the idea of you expecting more from him. Ever. If you've been too busy to notice all the clues he's given you over the past 13 years, this one phone call surely makes it plain. Asking him "half-jokingly" to buy you a coat for when you visit his very cold city is not a witchy or pushy or golddiggerish thing to do. Although there's nothing unseemly about borrowing clothes, I can understand your not wanting to wear his sister's choice of style. He is content with you doing all the sacrificing in this relationship. What you can look forward to for the next 30 years or so is exactly what you've got now. If you want more or different, call it quits. And next time be a little less passive about asking for what you need.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.