Last Christmas, I walked out on my boyfriend. We were planning to visit his family, but I didn’t feel like he cared to have me around. Earlier that day he’d said that I get “everything done for me.” I was like, “Oh no! Who does your laundry, your cooking, your dishes, makes sure the bills are paid, goes shopping, picks your clothes out?” Then he said, “Who pays for it?”
I had been laid off since August and was really down on myself for not having a job, so his words hurt. I didn’t answer his calls for four days. I regret it now and have poured my heart out to him, but he says we can only be friends. I never provoke situations, but he thinks I am constantly fighting with him. Now he is dating other women. It hurts because he told me I am his soul mate, but he wants to see what else is out there. What a line of crap! Do I stand a chance of having things the way they were?
Why live as if the past were king? Focus on learning as much about yourself as you can from this drama, integrate changes in your behavior and move forward in your life. Begin by reconsidering your story. Holidays are holy days. The potential for intimacy during a holiday celebration can elicit emotional antics that reveal our deepest fears. As you have discovered, threatening your partner with your absence from a holiday celebration is high-risk behavior. Perhaps shame about being unemployed inspired your desperation. When you and your former boyfriend began fighting (about how much you need each other), you chose to protect your ego, not the relationship. You write that you don’t provoke situations, but you provoked this one by walking out. If you need a timeout, say so, without threats.
One of your fears is that you are not worth much. When your former boyfriend said that “everything is done for you,” one response would have been “Yes, thank you.” In such a moment, you would be steeped in gratitude for all you have and for your partner. Plus, you’d both get to be right. Remember, a healthy relationship is composed of two independent people who choose to depend on each other. From that loving and vulnerable place, you could have responded, “Here are the things that I enjoy doing for you: grocery shopping, cooking …” The same information is shared without the put-downs.
One last point: The term soul mate apparently means something different to each of you. You believe we have one per lifetime. He believes differently. That doesn’t make either of you wrong.
Before we met, my boyfriend engaged in a few one-night stands of unprotected oral sex and intercourse. He recently went to his doctor and asked to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases. He was only given an HIV/AIDS test. (It was negative, thank God!) What other tests are necessary to ensure that I am safe?
I asked my friend Dr. Ron Cotterel, director of the Sutter Center for Integrative Health in Davis, for answers. He said, “My routine STD (now called STIs or sexually transmitted infections) screen includes blood tests for HIV/AIDS, syphilis, herpes and either a urethral swab (painful) or a urine test for chlamydia and gonorrhea. That covers most of the main culprits. We don’t have a very good test yet for HPV (human papilloma virus). HPV causes genital warts and may lead to cervical cancer if left unchecked.” I would add that your boyfriend should see a psychotherapist or spiritual director to determine why he was willing to risk his life and health for one night of sex. Find out more at www.sutterintegrativehealth.org.