Have you ever been in a one-sided relationship where you did all the giving and got nothing in return?
“Hey man, everything alright?” Tyler asked. “It’s not like you to call me out of the blue like that.”
Dan stood in the doorway of his old roommate’s apartment with his head hung low. “I’m sorry. I couldn’t think of anywhere else to go.”
“You know I’ve always got your back.” He waved Dan in out of the hallway and into the living room. Dan slumped into the couch as Tyler went into the kitchen for a drink. “Want a beer?”
“No thanks. Cassie doesn’t like it when I drink.”
Tyler poked his head around the door with a skeptical eyebrow raised. “Doesn’t she go out, like, every other night?”
Dan shrugged. “More or less. But she can do what she wants.”
“Dude, that’s kinda messed up.” Tyler brought a cola for Dan and twisted the top off of a beer for himself. “You’re not a mean drunk or anything.” He paused, then chuckled, remembering their college days. “You’re a really affectionate drunk.”
“I think that’s what bothers her.” Dan didn’t even crack a smile at the taunt.
Tyler sat on the edge of his recliner and leaned towards his friend. “What’s going on? Did you guys have a fight?”
“No!” Dan finally picked his head up and expressed the first bit of emotion Tyler had seen since he arrived. “No, everything is wonderful. She’s great and I love her and I want to marry her!”
Tyler inhaled sharply. He hadn’t meant for it to be so loud and Dan scowled at him. “Dan, don’t take this the wrong way, but you wouldn’t be here if things were really that great. You look miserable, and not in the my-nerves-are-shot-planning-a-proposal way.”
Dan buried his face in his hands and sighed. “I just don’t know what to do.”
“Well,” Tyler said, “why don’t you start by telling me what’s going on with you and Cassie.”
“I really do love her,” he said quietly. “But I don’t feel like she loves me anymore. If she ever did. It’s like nothing I do is good enough for her. If I buy her flowers, they’re the wrong ones, and heaven help me if I have them delivered to her at work. If I buy her jewelry, it’s never her taste, or it’s outdated and she isn’t interested in it anymore.”
“She doesn’t like flowers at work?” Tyler asked, incredulous. “Mandy loves that shit. I thought all women did.”
“Not Cassie,” Dan said, taking a swig of cola. “Says it embarrasses and humiliates her. I don’t get it.”
“That’s a damn shame.”
“Of course, if I go too long without buying her a gift, she starts to question me about why not and do I even love her, etc.”
“Have you told her?”
Dan nodded. “When I told her it was because she didn’t seem to like any of the things I bought her she said I was being ridiculous and she loves my gifts.”
“I don’t even try to bring up her reciprocating. She doesn’t even get me anything for my birthday or Christmas. If she does, it’s usually a cheap gift card for fast food or something.”
Tyler shook his head in disbelief. “How long have you guys been together now?”
“It’ll be 4 years next month.”
Tyler’s phone buzzed. It was Amanda. He smiled. He was lucky to have such a low maintenance girlfriend. He texted her to let her know Dan was visiting and that he was having “Cassie problems.”
Oh dear. Don’t let him go back there tonight. Talk some sense into him. I’ll stay at my mother’s. Good luck. Love you!
She had never hit it off with Cassie and often lamented to Tyler that Dan deserved better. More than once she had tried to introduce him to some of her friends but Dan was too oblivious to realize what she was doing. “She’s been living with you for a year now, right?”
Dan nodded. “It seemed like the logical next step, but honestly she’s a nightmare roommate. She rarely cleans, almost never cooks, and gets indignant when I ask her to walk the dog.”
“You guys don’t share chores?”
“I gave up trying to get her to do thigs around the apartment. When she gets home from work all she wants to do is unwind and watch Netflix. If she comes home. A lot of nights she goes out to happy hour with her coworkers and then comes home and crashes.”
“What does she even contribute to the relationship?” Tyler found himself muttering. Dan gave him a pointed “you know exactly what” and Tyler had to give his friend a stern Dad look. “Dude, sex is great and all, but a relationship needs more than just sex to survive.”
“It’s not just the sex,” Dan said. “She does split the expenses at least. My biggest fear is that I’ve wasted four years of my life on this woman who only sees me as a safety net.”
Tyler got to his feet. “That settles it.”
Tyler went to the kitchen for two more beers. This time he handed one to Dan. “You are going to drink with me and we are going to order pizza and spend all night playing video games, just like we did in college.”
Dan finally started to show signs of life. “Won’t Mandy be bothered by that?”
“Mandy’s orders,” Tyler grinned. “And then tomorrow, while we’re nursing a hangover, we’re gonna go get your stuff and move it here.”
Dan sputtered. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”
“Nope. I said it’s settled, so it’s settled.” Dan continued to protest but Tyler ignored him as he booted up the PlayStation. He didn’t think Dan would really move out right away, but he held out hope that a night for Dan to be himself again would prove to him that it was necessary. And when Dan did take that next step, Tyler’s offer would stand. He always had his best friend’s back.
Notes: I think this type of story is far more common for women than men and that’s why I decided to write it about a man realizing his relationship was borderline toxic and he needed to get out. Relationships are all about give and take and communicating when there seems to be an imbalance. I know I tend to let my husband do a lot of the household chores and am glad to let him do it, but we do need to share the burden and I have to check myself every once in a while to make sure I’m not making him do everything.
That wraps up this week. This story turned out a bit longer than I thought it would, but I’m not going to complain. I’ve got a big weekend of writing ahead of me to get ready for my vacation next weekend. I’ll see you on Sunday with the usual update! Have a great weekend!
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