it’s the little things

Jon’s work was crazy, so he got home much later than anticipated (nearly midnight). I was showering, so he came in and showered with me and let me know that his presentation is so behind that he had to be back at nine in the morning, so no good night sleep for him! Including commutes to and from work, and getting ready in the morning, he’s looking at six hours of sleep. After a quick shower, he got out to grab a bite to eat. I was feeling like a leisurely shower, so I took my time, did some leg shaving, put some deep conditioner on my hair.

When I got out about 15 minutes later and was drying my hair, Jon came back to brush his teeth and pee. We talked while he was doing it – I told him a quick, funny story about work today. He’s sleeping with Lora tonight, and when he went into the bedroom with her, I heard her say “That is totally not fair and OK”. And he ask “What?” She said “You were just in with Liz talking and laughing. Why aren’t you talking to me?” He said “I was talking to you the entire time I was eating, and Liz was still in the bathroom when I used it, so I talked to her while I was in there. Now I’m in the bedroom with you.” To which she said “yeah, but you’re just gonna go to sleep. You should be talking me. You never talk to me like that.

Two things of note: One was that Lora was talking in a sort of jokey voice. You know; the one people use when they’re kinda joking, but not really, and if someone takes strong exception to what they say, they can say “Jeez, clearly I was joking – don’t be so sensitive!” That one. Also Jon kept pushing back at Lora and repeated “We were talking while I was in the bathroom. We can talk if we’re both in the bathroom at the same time.”

And so they argued about it for a few minutes (with Lora saying “I’m just saying. I notice things like that”) before Lora changed the subject to something cute one of the cats did earlier today. Knowing full well that Jon has to be up in six hours and counting.

It’s the little shit like that that both makes me not want to live with her and also causes me to say to myself “Are you fucking for real? You seriously have to bitch about a five-fucking-minute long conversation in the bathroom? Really?”

Ladies, gentlemen, gender-neural, gender-queer and agender folks, this is what a person who doesn’t have mental problems and doesn’t need therapy sounds like. Yep.

Sounds totally healthy, doesn’t it?


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polyamorist, cat-lover, hopeless optimist when I'm not being a firm realist.

3 thoughts on “it’s the little things”

  1. If this isn’t helpful or welcome, please tell me.

    It sounds a lot like you’re doing the thing that I do when I’m unhappy about a situation/person’s behavior, but I don’t feel fully empowered to do something about it — usually because I know it will hurt someone. So I stay on it, and every little thing that is part of the situation becomes HUGE, and I can’t stop thinking about it or venting about it to whatever space is safe. And what’s really happening is I’m trying to justify my feelings enough to feel like it’s okay to do what I need to do to take care of myself — even if that means causing someone else pain.

    I don’t know if that’s what’s going on here, but it feels familiar. And in case it is and in case this outside voice helps: you’re justified. You’re living in a shitty situation with someone who treats both you and your shared partner badly. You have every right to set the boundaries you need to feel healthy.

    It seems like neither Lora nor Jon see the situation the way you do. They see that there are problems, but they don’t have the “Holy fuck, this is unacceptable” reaction that you do. If they did, you wouldn’t need to push for therapy for Lora… she’d be going on her own, because she would feel as badly as you do about the way she treats Jon and you. Or Jon would be setting his own boundaries and insisting that she stop treating him the way she does (probably with therapeutic help, but however) or the relationship is over. But they’re both chalking up all the really big bad things that happen to “it’s in the past, she’s working on it” and all the little things to “not that big a deal” and you’re the only one who’s seeing an overall abusive pattern that is not going to go away without serious intervention.

    A thing that might help is to be more clear and concrete about the ways Lora’s behavior is hurting you? Because even though she isn’t verbally abusive to you, her potential for that is acting to control you. You don’t say things you think and feel, because of how she might respond. When she attacks Jon, it hurts you too — I’d bet anything your body experiences a pretty strong stress response when you overhear their fights. Yes, boundaries are important and Jon has to be the one to decide when he’s had enough, for him, but you also get to decide when you’ve had enough, for you, and the things you have to overhear between them are a valid factor in that. You love Jon and so much of your hurt and anger is on his behalf — but a lot of it is on your own, too, and rightly so.

    I say that because it may be an easier and cleaner stance, if you can talk from a position of, “This is hurting me, this is unacceptable to me,” instead of waiting for either of them to agree that the way it’s hurting Jon is unacceptable.

    I hope some of that is helpful? This is hard, and it sucks, and I’m sorry. I think you’re doing a great job dealing with a shitty situation, and I think whatever decision you ultimately come to will be a good one.


    1. It is completely welcome! Any intelligent food-for-thought is very welcome.

      All of that is absolutely true. Jon’s reaction of “this really isn’t a big deal” in part causes me to doubt if these things are a big deal, and makes me wonder if *I’m* the problem. And it does end up controlling me – because now that’s going to be on my mind at least for the next few days, every time Jon and I have a five-minute conversation. Am I going to avoid those conversations? Cringe through them, not knowing if Lora is going to bitch that Jon was talking to me and not her and it’s not fair? Pretend to be asleep when Jon gets home so that we don’t “accidentally” have a troublesome conversation?

      It’s just a mess.

      I did sent him an email after reading your response. I told him about how it’s a problem to me because of the larger trend, and how I react to it (and yes, I do get a very visceral, strong physical stress reaction), and how it makes me feel, as a partner in his life and as someone who is supposed to (at least theoretically) get along with Lora. I told him that what I really wanted him to do is write HER an email, and let her know that it’s NOT ok, and that she needs therapy to work on her insecurities, because saying things like that isn’t OK to him. I didn’t tell him that he HAD to write that email; I wasn’t demanding it. But I was saying that I thought he should. And that I was debating writing my own email to her.

      But – as I told him in the email – part of what I worry about if *I* email her is that she’ll keep commenting, just with the door closed, so I can’t hear her. Or text it instead. Instead of acknowledging that saying things like that isn’t healthy, but is controlling and abusive and shitty. I also wondered if the reason he downplays it and doesn’t talk about it in terms of a larger trend is because he’s afraid. Afraid of how Lora will react. Afraid that it will turn into a huge fight. Afraid that it will be horrible. And I told him that I wasn’t asking that to taunt him or mock his fear – *I* was afraid to say something to Lora, for fear of where it would go.

      And if I DO email her, I know she’s going to bring it up with Jon. What’s he going to say? Will he agree with me or agree with her? If he agrees with me, will that be a “sign” that he loves me more and hates her and is out to replace her with me? (all things she’s said to him many, many times before) And if he agrees with her, does that give her tacit permission to decide that I’m being ridiculous?

      Is there any way to say something without putting him in the middle? If I were dealing with a person who had a reasonable amount of self-confidence and a healthy way of dealing with conflict, then I would say that yes, we could talk something like that out (but then, if I were dealing with a person who had a reasonable amount of self-confidence and a healthy way of dealing with conflict, we probably wouldn’t be having situations like this at all).

      But with her…I don’t know what to do. Even if I do put it in terms of “This is not acceptable to me, FOR me”, I can’t see a scenario in which Lora didn’t pull Jon in and try to sort of get him to arbitrate or something. So I asked him in my email “If I email her, and she comes to you and wants your opinion, what are you going to do?”. I feel like I should at least give him a heads up that I might email her about it, and also ask him what he would do if/when she pulls him in.

      I guess I’ll see what he says and start working on a draft of an email to her. I really hate this.

      But thank you for your thoughtful and compassionate response. It means a lot.


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