Clingy Boyfriend Can't Handle GF's Busy Law School Schedule, And She's Not Sure What To Do
If you or anyone you know has ever gone to law school, you understand that person essentially disappears for a few years. The work load is insanely heavy and difficult, the classes are next to impossible, and socializing becomes a strategic career move. One Reddit user's already clingy boyfriend isn't adjusting well to the change at all and she isn't sure how to help him - or if she even should.
Here's her initial post ... as she warns you, it's a long one:
I'm gonna preface that I am a mix of exhausted, stressed out and generally overwhelmed. It's gonna be lengthy.
I've [22F] have been with my BF [21M] for over two and half years and for the most part the relationship has been rather low turbulence in comparison to my prior relationships. We met in my sophomore year of college and his freshman year when I was only a few months off a break up. I initially wanted nothing to do with him and was not willing to date what so ever. My breakup had been truly awful and I was just really starting to get on my feet. He persisted for about a month before I agreed to go on a break up.
For the majority of our relationship, he's been incredibly doting and supportive. But I would be lying to say if that doting didn't spiral into obsessiveness and clinginess. The majority of our fights have been over the fact that I need space, as I'm a fairly independent person. I didn't want to be together 24/7 and he really struggled with that once the honey moon phase was over. But eventually, he seemed to get better about it and it was tolerable.
As we've dated, I discovered that while he has a generous and kind heart, he can be incredibly immature. He can't manage to show up in a timely fashion for anything, can't keep a part time job and whines the moment he isn't entertained (i'm sure this is part of the current problem) for example. Just lots of little immature and generally exhausting things to deal with. Once again, he's made progress in the past that it reach a tolerable level.
He is also whole heartedly way too reliant on me. Stupid shit like "Should I go grocery shopping right now or go to the gym?" And i'm like, "Why does my opinion matter? This isn't something I should have an opinion in." Because it's really not. What would happen whenever I refused to answer is he just wouldn't do either option and just lay around all day. It's ridiculous, annoying and has been a constant problem in our relationship.
I will lend that the majority of my friends and family love him. He's super easy to get along with, is always willing to jump in and help, and fits in really well with my crowd. The general consensus is that he comes off a bit immature but he's always friendly and kind. My mom in particular is really fond of him, which makes this whole mess a bit frustrating.
Right now, I'm two weeks into Law School and the relationship seems to be self combusting.
I've been wanting to go to Law School for the past two years and I've been incredibly vocal and driven about this. It's non-negiotable to me that i'm going and that this is a priority to me. He has always been incredibly supportive and very, "Whatever you need just let me know." Sounds great, right? I had zero idea that this was going to be such an insane and rocky start.
I spend probably 6-8 hours a day just studying, reading and doing school related things where I am not checking my phone or social media. I just don't have time, brain cells or energy for it. When I go to school, I disable the wifi on my laptop and turn my phone off so that I can try to focus. I absolutely let him know that I was becoming less and less available out of sheer survival. I'm trying to make myself a future, I really am. Well this is absolutely not going well on his end. In a 36 hour period, he texted me "What are you doing" 17 times. 17 bloody times. I was texting him plenty in those 36 hours, but for example I would turn off my phone for class from 8-12. When I would get back, I would have 3-5 messages of "Hey, what are you doing?" half hour chunk of time, "What r u up to?" and so forth. I ended up face timing him and was like this is unreasonable, unhealthy and needs to stop immediately. He seemed to hear it but a few days later, he's back at texting me several times a day to ask what i'm doing.
Don't get me wrong - I get that I'm the one who change here.
I went from being available almost all the time, to basically not available at all. I get it. It sucks, i'm aware. I'm also changing as a person because I have to be more responsible, more mature and more scheduled then ever before. But i'm also being very very forthcoming about the fact that this is what I need to do to survive law school. I'm only a few weeks in and this is really hard and taking some adjusting. Every day I get a better handle on things, but i'm still adjusting to the learning curve of just the giant work load. I physically and mentally can't be more available to him then I am at this moment.
Plus, I just don't want to be.
Every time i've talked to him in the last 10 days we've gotten into a fight. Everything from a full blown fight to passive aggressive squabbles. It's reached the point that the moment he starts being passive aggressive, I just say I have to go and hang up. I'm so brain dead that staring at a wall and doing nothing is actually relieving, I don't have the energy to constantly fight with him and deal with passive aggressive comments. He's like, "Why don't you FaceTime me more often?" Because every time we talk, we fight or you harass me about when is the next time we are going to see each other. On that note, he is not in class this past week and wanted to know if he could come up and stay in my new apartment for my first week of law school. I said heck no. I genuinely am gone all day, i'm exhausted and I need to be making friends with my colleagues and adjusting to my new city and life.
This didn't settle well and he's asked probably every other time we've talked about when he can come visit. I genuinely can't even gather the free brain cells to think about what to have for dinner, let alone when I can squeeze in time for a visitor and the amount of pre-work I would have to do.
I guess what i'm failing to get at, is i'm trying to decide how long I should give him to adjust before I call it. Our relationship has problems naturally. I don't enjoy who I am around any more because the little things of his personality really get under my skin and it just makes me cranky. This is just becoming more and more irritated by law school and he's sorta combusting.
If you read this entire thing, thank you and you are wonderful person.
tl:dr I went off to law school and became rather unavailable every day. Boyfriend, who was already clingy, is self combusting and picking fights.
Reddit was ready with some hard truth. (Some comments have been edited for clarity.)
Reflection On YouGiphy
I am currently a 3L and I just have one more thing to add. If you choose to continue dating your boyfriend, be cognizant that, should you work at a firm your 2L summer, he will likely be invited to events with you. If he behaves immaturely, shows up late, etc., these things will all reflect on you.
Just food for thought. I had this specific realization this past summer - I deeply appreciated my current boyfriend for being someone I could be proud of, and realized my exes would not have fit that bill.
This Is About You And You Alone
Law school is not easy-congrats on making it there! His lack of adjustment is not your problem to fix. Prioritize yourself and protect the time you need to do well in your classes.
I dealt with a similar dynamic with my husband when I started medical school. Ultimately, I just shared my calendar with him, including all my classes, skills labs, research team meetings, and independent study sessions. Once he realized how busy I actually was, things changed drastically and he began taking care of himself and helping me out more. However, if you have any shred of doubt that your partner will do the same, it's time to move on. Graduate school is no time for manchildren- this is about you and you alone achieving your dreams.
Relationships Generally Don't Survive Law School
Just call it now. I went to law school. Literally every single couple (that wasn't already married) broke up the first year except 1 and they had been together 7 years already. Even a few married people got divorced. Relationships do not generally survive the first year of law school, and all signs point to this one being on its way out the door anyways. Sucks, but it's going to suck more later.
Rip Off That Band-AidGiphy
As someone who went to law school and let it drag on too long with my college boyfriend before ending things, rip off that band-aid now. First year is by far the hardest year of your law education and you're doing the right thing by dedicating yourself to your studies. Your grades are so important that year and will follow you when you start applying for clerkships and jobs. You're not in the wrong here, but neither is your boyfriend. I'm sure this change is super hard on him, and the break up will be hard too.
Just keep in mind, you can't provide him with what he needs now. You can't be a great partner. Right now. The spouses and partners of my friends in law school actually had a weekly "support group" because they were so ignored the first year (by support group, it was a weekly session of drinking wine and hanging out. I'm sure lots of venting went on too.) It's ok to end things and focus on your work. This doesn't make you a bad person. You sound like my college boyfriend and me, which is you've outgrown each other. There's nothing wrong with that.
Update: Pulled The Plug
I decided to take a week to let things settle in even further. I made it explicitly clear that his behavior wasn't ok and we needed a change if this relationship was going to survive. Verbally he was on board, but after 24 hours it really fell apart.
Tonight, I pulled the plug. It was hard, and awful because I do love him and I will always love him but we are no longer in love. He asked me what I wanted, and I said I wanted him to be ok with less communication and be confident in our relationship, so that I could be at school guilt free. I asked him what he wanted, and he said he wanted more of my time, communication and energy.
His wants had nothing to do with what was best for me, or would make me happiest.
That was really hard to hear and we both cried for a while when I pointed that out. He understood, he saw it coming and he didn't beg or fight it. We just cried.
So anyway, I wanted to say thank you to EVERYONE who reached out to me. Seriously, it made me feel like I was actually in control of the situation and not crazy for walking away. Thank you for being a community that validates others feelings and is honest and truthful.
Now, I'm gonna go shower and watch stupid shows on netflix.
TL:DR Broke up with my boyfriend when he couldn't adjust to the lack of free time I now had in law school.
Easier When You're Angry
It's hard because it's easier to break up with anger against the other person for being so unreasonable/immature/bad etc. Its harder when it's just a compatibility issue. But when you think about it...you started dating the person for a reason. While obviously lots of people get bamboozled by manipulative people, just as many people date and there's nothing more to it than it just doesn't work out. Not every break up needs to be because there is something wrong with one of the given parties.
Takes a lot of maturity to make that kind of honest change.
An Inspiration Not A HypocriteGiphy
I didn't read the first post, so I initially commented calling the original poster a hypocrite. So many people pointed out things that I missed that proved how wrong I was. I'm going to highlight a few things from her previous post that further clarifies the situation:
He can't manage to show up in a timely fashion for anything, can't keep a part time job and whines the moment he isn't entertained
He is also whole heartedly way too reliant on me. Stupid shit like "Should I go grocery shopping right now or go to the gym?" And i'm like, "Why does my opinion matter? This isn't something I should have an opinion in." Because it's really not. What would happen whenever I refused to answer is he just wouldn't do either option and just lay around all day.
In a 36 hour period, he texted me "What are you doing" 17 times. 17 bloody times. I ended up face timing him and was like this is unreasonable, unhealthy and needs to stop immediately. He seemed to hear it but a few days later, he's back at texting me several times a day to ask what i'm doing.
Every time i've talked to him in the last 10 days we've gotten into a fight. Everything from a full blown fight to passive aggressive squabbles. It's reached the point that the moment he starts being passive aggressive, I just say I have to go and hang up. I'm so brain dead that staring at a wall and doing nothing is actually relieving, I don't have the energy to constantly fight with him and deal with passive aggressive comments. He's like, "Why don't you FaceTime me more often?" Because every time we talk, we fight or you harass me about when is the next time we are going to see each other.
wanted to know if he could come up and stay in my new apartment for my first week of law school. I said heck no. I genuinely am gone all day, i'm exhausted and I need to be making friends with my colleagues and adjusting to my new city and life. ... This didn't settle well and he's asked probably every other time we've talked about when he can come visit. I genuinely can't even gather the free brain cells to think about what to have for dinner, let alone when I can squeeze in time for a visitor and the amount of pre-work I would have to do.
With all of that in mind, OP absolutely did the right thing, and it couldn't have been any more timely.
The way I see it, he wasn't getting something he wanted from her, so he was resorting to passive-aggressive behavior in an attempt to shame her into sacrificing all of her independence, her ambition, and her attempts to make a life for herself in order to lavish him with as much attention as he wanted. No matter how you look at it, this is emotional manipulation, plain and simple. Either he is hopelessly naive or consciously malicious, because no one in their right mind would think that forcing the one you love to return from 8 long hours of non-stop studying to over a dozen texts asking where they've been is in any way benign, especially after it's been warned against in the past.
Even if you take the former optimistic answer that he's just an idiot, it is still completely and utterly unacceptable, and he has a lot of learning to do before he's ready for another relationship. But if you take the more cyncical latter answer, she didn't just escape an overly-attached boyfriend; she deftly evaded a malicious attempt to drag her into an endless cycle of abuse.
Either way, OP saw it for exactly what it was and she would not have any of it. She asserted her agency, and it shouldn't just be accepted, but celebrated.
Like, goddamn. If only more women (and men!) had her willpower and foresight. If more abusers were more conscious (or caring) of the pain they were inflicting upon the ones they supposedly loved. And if only we, us so-called "relationship experts", would do more to empower the victims of abuse, instead of criticizing them for not being "more understanding" or "more patient" for the benefit of their abusers.
Thank you to everyone who was willing to confront me with what I was doing. And to OP, I'm so sorry. You are not a hypocrite. You're an inspiration.
More Than Most Can Give
You did the right thing. Your ex texted you "what are you doing" 17 times in 36 hours and couldn't go grocery shopping without asking you first. He wasn't just asking for more communication on a reasonable level. He was asking for more than most people who aren't going to law school can give.
Never Going To Get Any Better
Coming from a lawyer, you did the right thing. The legal profession will demand just as much of your time as law school. So, this issue was never going to get any better. Best of luck!
Learning How To "Do" Law SchoolGiphy
I'm a lawyer and lots of relationships don't survive law school. It is intense and demanding and it takes serious commitment and understanding from the non-law school partner to survive it. I always felt bad for my friends' spouses who would come out to dinner or drinks with a bunch of law students and we would talk about nothing but law school. It had to have been annoying and exhausting for them.
Take this time to be single and focus on school. Learning how to "do" law school is the hardest part of the first year - years 2 and 3 were much easier for me. Good luck!