I cannot deal with his behavior

-- Question for John --

I have been with the same guy for five years. For the most part I have been happy, but certain things have happened that have made me doubt him. He has gone through a couple of phases when he drank and smoked a lot. During those times he was completely emotionally unavailable to me. I ended up telling him that if he didn’t change I would leave him.

He relaxed on both substances both for me and for personal reasons. He says that he doesn’t smoke 95 percent of the time its around now. The thing is, he acts like a 12 year old when he smokes, and I strongly believe that smoking seriously stunts emotional maturity. I don’t respect it and find it to be a complete turn off. I tried for a year to push this aside, but little hints about smoking get dropped left and right by him. Bottom line, I don’t like his behavior before, during, and after he smokes, and I don’t want to deal with it anymore. He says 95 percent should be good enough for me. But my gut instinct is telling me its not. Clearly 95 percent is not ok, if one year later, I am still really bothered by it. I don’t know if I should go against what everything in my body is telling me. That is, I want to be with someone emotionally, spiritually, and physically healthy, someone that I can look up to. And I despise smoking and think it takes away from relationships, emotional growth, and brings a long with it a bad ass attitude. What should I do?

The second is the fact that I am not a jealous girlfriend at all, and I feel like because of this I constantly get games played with me. For example, we were at dinner the other night, and he knew the waitress. She came over and started talking to us. I didn’t care. I talked to her too. Then, he moved his seat over and told her to sit next to us. I still didn’t care. When she left, he started telling me about how he hooked up with her. I still didn’t react but I feel like he keeps trying to get reactions out of me. Another situation is the girl he works with. She is really nice, and I have talked to her alot. I feel that he tries to play games with me when he constantly brings her up, telling me how smart she is, what a hard life she has had, how strong of a person she is, how she was having a hard time with something and he helped her out, someone was making fun of her and he wrote her and e-mail and made her feel better. All of this is great, but I really don’t care. I am not jealous, but feel like I am constantly being agitated. Sure I could tell him about the guys at my work and how smart they are, but I know not to do that, why doesn’t he. Another instance was when we went out with my sister and her friends. My sister is an exotic dancer and so are all of her friends, we went out with them a few nights a go, these girls are all really beautiful, but I am not insecure, so I don’t feel threatened at all, but when we went out with them a few weekends ago, everytime I turned around he had his arms around one of them all smiley and everything. As I said I am not jealous, but I would never hang all over a guy like that in front of him. He told me that is was just friendly and that he loves people and that’s all there is to it… that he was going to do what he wants and hope it doesn’t hurt my feelings.

When I told him about these things, he usually tells me I am being ridiculous… which pisses me off beyond belief. He will hang up on me, and yesterday I spent 20 minutes writing him and e-mail only to have him delete it without reading it. He said “if I am lucky I can print it out and read it to him on the phone”

I haven’t talked to him in a couple of days because I am so confused and am just afraid he will start yelling and hang up on me again.. my instinct is telling me that the things going on aren’t good for me. I have been with him for 5 years, I don’t want to play games anymore. As I look to my future I am afraid. I already know that its more important for him to do what he wants than it is for him to be the person I want to be with. I know that in a relationship you should not want to change the person you are with, I guess it would just be nice for him to be able to change behavioral things to be the person I want to be with. I would work on any aspect of my behavior if he asked me to. I just feel that we are beginning to take separate paths and that scares me more than anything in the world. But I can’t stay with someone because I am scared. At the same time though, it is always easier to walk away from problems than it is to deal with them. I love him and want to be with him still. I don’t know what to do. please help….

-- Answer from John --

You exhibit a deep understanding of the path of a healthy relationship, and both a commitment and high skill level to doing your own work in relationship to keep love strong.

However, you are deeply questioning if you are with the right partner.

From the outside, going from exactly what you have written me, I’d have to honestly say my concerns match yours about that.

Great relationships are made when partners are pretty close to one another on the level of skill, commitment and consciousness. In other words, two people who are pretty unconscious and reactive fit well together, because they both have similar learning to achieve and hopefully can turn things around if sufficiently motivated. And obviously, two people consciously committed to their personal growth are well matched, and will jump into learning things on a different level than the two people in my last sentence.

It strikes me that you are on one level, he’s on another. I don’t see him stepping up to the plate to join you in the journey you want to take.

Trust the deepest feelings in your body about this one.

The fear and the pain are not those. There is a deeper feeling, and you do describe it below to me fully, and I get it. You need to honor it.

Fact is there are some situations in relationships that many if not most psychologists consider “deal-breakers” — (1) abusive behavior, physical or emotional; (2) addictions to drugs or alcohol; (3) different preferences regarding monogamy vs. non-monogamy.

There are many couples we have worked with who have sharply differing wants regarding weed or alcohol that approach being a deal-breaker. Sometimes these can be worked through and agreements made that work for both people. I wouldn’t call these “compromises” because I don’t believe compromises ultimately work.