[This is a response to a Q&A query. Please read the original question here.]
Sarah, are you or are you not Jake’s girlfriend as of today?
The main issue here is that none of you have a clear answer to that question at the moment. You’re both confused.
Jake breaks up with you. He stops having sex with you to impress this point upon you. And then he has dreams about you cheating on him and drinking again. If he’s truly let go of you, why does he care? If he’s truly let go of you, why does he need to tell you that Sally is only a friend and not a date?
On the other hand you sometimes feel it’s over. You feel you’re living with him just because you have nowhere else to do. Then again you feel helpless about not being able to make him believe that you’d never drink again. And you feel uncontrollable pangs of jealousy for his new “friend” Sally. Why Sarah?
This brings me to the question of the mysterious circumstances of the “break-up” itself. Your boyfriend of three years broke up with you because you went out and got drunk one evening. One evening in three whole years. Really? I’m sorry Sarah, but let me tell you – that wasn’t the reason Jake tried to end this relationship, it was the trigger. Things have been there on Jake’s mind for a long time, nudging him, pushing him to reconsider your relationship with him. I suspect there isn’t one but several reasons he’s been feeling this way. The incident of your night out in the town was just the trigger which excited him into taking action.
It’s these real issues which you need to find out Sarah.
What are these issues?
Why didn’t he discuss these with you?
Can you do anything to allay his worries about whatever the issues are?
Do you want to?
These are questions the answers to which both of you will have to work out together. Have an open discussion with Jake. Ask him directly about what is it that’s bothering him. And most importantly – emphasize that you want to make this relationship work and you’re ready to put in all necessary efforts for it. At this point there’s a significant communication gap between the two of you which needs to be bridged if this relationship has to move any further.
The second issue is that of your total emotional dependence on Jake. Yes Sarah. You’re overly emotionally dependent on him. His approval means the world to you. Him going out with another girl – who he doesn’t even call a date – makes you completely out of control. You’re still extremely guilty about the drinking incident. And you feel desperate because you have nowhere else to go.
That’s not the way any healthy relationship can work, Sarah. Every relationship requires some space. Emotional intimacy is great. But too much emotional dependence on your partner makes them feel suffocated. It makes you completely out of control. And so it gives your partner two reasons to start feeling a bit wary about you.
Hence you need to find yourself. You need to find your strength. That’s your Priority #1 in life at this point. And for that you need to be self-sufficient. Yes, it’s a long-term goal, it can’t be achieved tomorrow. But what stops you from spending every waking hour in pursuit of that goal? Focus on your job search. Put that as the #1 item on your daily to-do list, because it is. No matter whether this relationship survives or not. Jake is right – even if it does survive, some level of material independence on your part will take certain pressures off both of you (e.g. guilt on your part for feeling like using him, consequent lack of trust on his).
Also, as a direct consequence of your excessive emotional dependence your boyfriend, you’re letting him take you for granted. At the moment you’ve put him at the centre of your life. That’s not where he belongs, Sarah. There’s one, and only person who belongs there – you. If you’ve been regular around here you’d know that your partner is a very important part of your life, but not your life itself. One more important principle that’s relevant to you is – you can’t change others, you can only change your own response to them.
Sally, for example. You’re letting her affect you so much more than you should, Sarah. You’re way too worked up about her role in Jake’s life. The only message that this conveys to Jake is, “I’m desperate and unable to function without you.” Jake may not be conscious of it, but this message signals to his brain that you’re “safe”, that you can be taken for granted. Which makes his brain think it’s OK to not reply to your message while he’s out with Sally at 1 in the morning.
This is a never-ending vicious cycle Sarah. The only way – if at all – of making Jake take you more seriously is to let go. When he comes back tonight don’t even wake up. Tomorrow morning ask him pleasantly how his evening went. Never ask him about Sally. Never make angry comments about Sally. If she ever comes up in conversation, be warm and positive. You’ve told Jake you’d be “mad” at him for having a night out in the town with Sally. But ironically, your message to Jake would be a lot clearer if you don’t get mad, than if you do. If you’re all cool about the whole Sally thing, Jake will slowly realize you probably need him less than you once did. Trust me – if Jake still loves you, that can be just the wake-up call he’s needed for so long.
All the best Sarah. At Love in India we’re all there by your side. :)