Adapted from a recent online discussion.
What he describes as honesty may not be what she's hearing
Jerkville: I'm in an exclusive relationship with another divorced parent who lives two hours away. Meaning: limited time together.
Between visits, I'm fine with one communication a day (e-mail, phone or text) but she seems to feel neglected if we don't communicate several times a day. I end up calling to make her happy, then being irritated that I feel compelled to do this.
Yes, I get that she is more "into" this relationship than I am. I ended it once due to this difference in depth — I didn't want to be leading her on. But she convinced me she could be "patient."
If I'm fine with it "as is," am I a jerk for continuing the relationship, as long as I'm honest?
Carolyn: You think you've been honest, and maybe you really have, but she's acting on different information than what you suggested is the truth here.
So when she said she could be "patient," did you explain to her that it's not a matter of waiting — that you may not ever feel about her the way she feels about you? "Patient" means she's on a string, and your communicating several times a day when it annoys you to do so tells her you care more than you do — while actively making you care less.
It may be that she's using a mental filter to make sure she hears only what she wants to hear — and that is her mistake, her responsibility.
However, when you know her to be ignoring part of the truth, or twisting it to make herself feel better — and when you encourage her false hopes by agreeing to go through the motions she demands — then it's on you to fill in the missing pieces.
She needs to know that pushing you to communicate more is having the exact opposite effect of what she hopes to accomplish. Not that I envy you that conversation, but, there it is.
And if you don't see this relationship going beyond where it is now, then she needs to know that, too.
Jerkville Again: We've had a lot of these conversations, especially during the two weeks we were "broken up" and she kept calling asking for explanations.
I've told her that at this point I am not thinking of remarriage but that I am not categorically against it, in theory. That I am not going to cohabitate (kids) and that I can't see moving in the next three years.
When I do get annoyed by the amount of contact and increasing clinginess, I "get distant" and she backs off.
She just now texted "XOX." I'm not responding.
Carolyn: That's still dodging. She has told herself that you will move close to her in three years, and marry her shortly thereafter.
Tell her where your heart is and where your intentions are — not just to put her out of her misery, but to put yourself out of your own. Which maybe I am just projecting, but getting unwelcome, and therefore clingy, texts all day sounds like its own level of hell.
Rule of thumb: When I know more about your relationship than your girlfriend does, you can't use the "as long as I'm honest" defense.