Ask LH: Is My Relationship Doomed?

Hi Lifehacker, My partner and I have been together for over two years but we're currently going through a hard time. He keeps saying that I don't think of "us" when we go places together; generally I can't do anything right it seems.

One example: we were at a rally and he got upset because I walked off into the crowd and he didn't see me look back to find him until we had finished. He's a grown man and can look after himself but it feels like I need to hold his hand. Am I really a bad person that needs to change their thinking or is he making this relationship all about himself? Thanks, Confused

Worried girlfriend picture from Shutterstock

Dear Confused,

You're not a bad person. It sounds like your boyfriend is a high-maintenance introvert, which is one of the worst personality combos going.

If he chucks a strop when you leave him in crowds, it probably means he feels uncomfortable socialising in unfamiliar settings. His girlfriend is his main security blanket, so when you disappear it leaves him feeling unjustly resentful. Nobody likes to admit to their social inadequacies, which means he's probably looking for someone to blame right from the off.

You could try pointing him towards some of our numerous tips on overcoming social shyness, but this could badly backfire, especially if he's touchy about his unspoken wallflower status.

In any event, these are likely to be deeply ingrained personality traits that will be incredibly hard to shake off. You basically have three options: you could continue down the same unhappy path, make an extra effort to cater to his insecurities, or dump him for a more compatible boyfriend. Whatever you decide to do, start by communicating more in a bid to smooth out the problem -- you can read plenty of tête-à-tête and relationship advice in our Communication section.

Of course, this is all just pure conjecture based on your very brief explanation. If any other readers have a differing viewpoint, do share in the comments section below!

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    I don't know that we should be jumping to the conclusion that he's a "high-maintenance introvert" with such a small and very one-sided description of a single event. If I were to wander off into a crowd when we were out together, my partner would be upset. Not because he doesn't like being left alone, but because he would be worried that something might happen to me, which I actually think is kind of sweet. Shows he cares.

    And maybe that's part of the problem here. Having his partner wander off and leave him in a crowded place potentially leaves him feeling like they just don't care, that perhaps the relationship is more important to him than it is to them (especially if he sees an outing as a special kind of "us time"). That kind of insecurity can bring on all sorts of negative reactions.

    Relationships more often than not all come down to compromise. If one person isn't willing to take their partners' feelings into account on something that upsets them, then maybe they shouldn't be in that partnership.

    Just my own conjecture :)

      introvert is definitely a stretch - if you were going to assume something about his mental state from that, it'd be 'abandonment issues' or similar. Introverts aren't usually too worried about being left alone.

      When you're unhappy with a relationship, you often start seeing everything as a sign. They didn't think to get you lunch when they bought their own, so they mustn't care about you. They never do the dishes and that's a sign of how much effort they're putting into the relationship. They wander off and leave you in a crowd, nothing could be more clear about where the relationship is going etc etc.

      She implies it was different for the first two years, and most people don't suddenly change personality types. Like you said, the only option is to talk it through and try to find out what the root cause is and whether it can be fixed.

    Yeah if you're out with somebody, especially your partner, simply walking off without telling them is a pretty dickish thing to do. I think "Confused" needs to look in the mirror first.

      common sense is a rare commodity these days

      Yep I agree with the 'current' consensus. Walking off in a crowd without any communication about it is just not the done thing. I think most people would expect that you come up with some sort of plan at least (meet you here at X, I'll be off for 5 minutes doing Y etc, will call you etc).

      In general, relationships are about compromise. Your relationship isn't doomed, it depends on your and his ability to both calmly discuss disagreements and to be able to make compromises.

      If that is the best example of bad behaviour you could come up with though...I'm kind of on his side.

      Meanwhile, what's up with Chris Jager never giving good advice? This is worse than that time when he said the sugar free slurpees tasted terrible. BLASPHEMY!

        Are you talking about the Slurpee Crawl challenge post? I totally bigged the 'Zilched' flavour up! Also, you seem to have overlooked the "pure conjecture" sentence above.

          "Homer Simpson here! When you sold me this house you forgot to mention one little thing. You didn't tell me it was built ON AN INDIAN BURIAL GROUND!!!.... NO! YOU! DIDN'T!!! Well that's not my recollection. Yeah, well..... alright, goodbye! (hangs up)... He said he mentioned it five or six times."

    Who the hell would walk off from their partner in a crowd of people.

    You are the one at fault, not him. YOU!

    Mary - don't break up with me - I can change! And I wasn't angry at you for walking away - it was the fact you were holding that other guys hand! And you didn't give the whole information - the rally was in support of high maintenance introverts - and you just left me! And I'm not a grown man. I'm only 12...

    I think the biggest thing I would want to know is what sort of rally were you at and who wanted to go to it. If it was something that you are passionate about but he is uncomfortable around then he might have been well outside his comfort zone and was only there to support you.

    It also depends on what the thought of going to the rally was. In his mind was it couples time which you say seems to be missing in his eyes. Consider when you last did something as a couple, rather than going somewhere together. If it is often and this was a once off then he might be over-reacting. If you can't remember or find that nights out ended up with you catching up with friends and spending more time talking to them because you haven't seen them in ages then perhaps he has a point.

    Jeepers.. Pretty harsh on the guy there lol "the worst combination possible" hah.

    I would myself be pretty miffed if I went out somewhere with my girl and she just ran off and I didn't see her again for hours lol.. It's like.. Ok then I guess next time i'll just go on my own from the start.

    With so limited information it's hard to give a fair assessment.

    In any case, I hate to say it, but from what you've said, and how you said it, I'm on his side.
    It doesn't sound like he wanted to go to the rally, but rather went along to support you. And quite frankly, your response to his attitude suggests that you are unappreciative/oblivious of what he did for you.
    And yes, you did just desert him, and from a relationship stand point, especially after 2 years, that's disrespectful. A simple "I'm gonna go into the crowd/further up front etc. I'll meet you over at... at the end of the rally" and add something to show you care like "be careful." You could also have said something along the lines of "thanks for coming along/I'm happy you came along" at the end of the rally.

    It would be a different story if the setting was a small party at a friends place, then I'd be on your side.
    I'm not saying you're a bad person, but what you did was inconsiderate and your response was selfish. Perhaps the root of the cause is that quite frankly, you're both in a different mind set in the relationship, and maybe it's time to assess how the relationship is going. That, or ask yourself, is what he's asking of you reasonable to you and can you compromise?

    Stick to safer subjects Chris. I really don't think you know enough about the situation to jump to such radical conclusions.

    Are you qualified to give this type of advice? If you are then, readers need to know if your 'advice' is based on anything other than personal conjecture. If not, then you really shouldn't be giving such personal & sensitive advice - between friends, perhaps, but certainly not in public.

    One example: we were at a rally and he got upset because I walked off into the crowd and he didn’t see me look back to find him until we had finished. He’s a grown man and can look after himself but it feels like I need to hold his hand

    Are you dating the boyfriend from Footloose?

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