Why so many queers play doormat to get a little love

Q:

My partner is a freeloader. I agreed to support him temporarily, but it’s been a long time, and I want him back to pulling his weight.

When he decided to go back to school, I happily took on extra hours. He finished with honors, but he’s been dicking around for over a year working for chump change while he finishes his dissertation. To make matters worse, I went on disability after an accident at work, and our finances are in spiral.

He says he’s looking for a better job, but throws a fit if I bring it up. He threatens to move out, and I’m afraid of losing my investment in him and us. I was proud when he went back to school, but now I hold it against him. 

Dear Used:

It’s exhausting to be the doormat. You’ve both gotten used to the arrangement, and while you feel the short end of the stick, he is quite comfortable with the long end.

But make no mistake: You do have an agreement. Until a new arrangement is hashed out, you bear equal responsibility for keeping it the way it is – or changing it. If he’s still working on his dissertation, he’s not technically done yet. Make sure you are heard and he pulls his weight, but also make sure you’re not backing out early.

Situations change, and your disability is a big deal. What are you really afraid of here? Your relationship? He’s not going anywhere without an income. The sound of raising your voice? Let him have it if talking calmly isn’t working. 

He’s going to do what you let him. Make some noise if you have to so you can discuss how to move forward.

Q:

My wife is irresponsible. She says she’ll pick up milk, then forgets. She says she’ll mail something, and it sits in her backseat for a week. She says she’ll be home at 7 p.m., then rolls in at midnight. 

When I ask, she unloads about her schedule. I’m busy too, but when I say I’m going to do something, I do it. I expect the same.

Dear Yet Again:

Everyone is busier than everyone else, aren’t they? “I’m busy” means “your thing isn’t a priority,” and used as an excuse to get out of a commitment. It’s disregard for others, plain and simple.

Some perpetual promisers are worried about disappointing others and take on more than they can handle. Others are afraid of conflict, so they agree to everything. A few are actually as selfish as they appear, but that’s rare. 

I don’t have enough information to say which of these fits your wife, but the upshot for you is the same: disappointment. If she’s worth it, sit her down and show her the pattern. Put it on her to fix it, and don’t rely on her anymore until she does.

Q:

Long story short, my boyfriend and I decided to take a break and see other people for two months. We agreed we might fool around but not go too deeply with anyone else. 

Long story short, he slept with a guy and started seeing him almost nightly. He even told a friend that he could see himself falling for the dude.

Long story, but now he wants to get back together with me. He dumped the guy, regrets diving in too deeply, and just wants us back the way it was. I forgive him, but I’m hurt. What should I do?

Dear Long Story Short:

So he wants to move on and you want to stop hurting as soon as possible. Makes sense, but your penchant for making a “long story short” isn’t the answer in this case. 

In fact, “going back to the way it was” is the opposite of what you two need. That’s what got you into this mess in the first place.

This is a crucial moment. It will take more than one long, full conversation to unpack what happened, but it can be worth it. Take the time to learn the lessons that led him to overstep the “on break” agreement, and that led you both to take the break in the first place.

The Q is intended for entertainment purposes and not as professional counseling. Send your burning Qs to [email protected]

Illustration by Brad Gibson

This column originally appeared in Q magazine. Read past editions of The Q advice column here, and read the full issue online here

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