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August 26 2016

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August 25 2016

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August 24 2016

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“Sometimes the hotel holding your wedding also has a fetish ball booked.”
Lace And Leather via AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com
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August 23 2016

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I’ve never been married, but for a time I was in a relationship where the expectation was that I would make myself and my needs smaller to conform to a boyfriend’s expectations. I was young, naive, and more than a little bit insecure with myself.

The one example I like to draw on now when mutual friends ask why I ended it (“You guys seemed so good together!” Bless them, they didn’t know and I don’t feel comfortable explaining the multitude of ways he was manipulative) is something I like to call the “Towel Paradox”. During the 4 years we were together, I never ONCE had a clean towel when I stayed at his place. He owned one bath towel, which was rarely ever washed, and about a million grungy beach towels. Not for a lack of money, mind you, but he didn’t think towels were important.

We either shared the one towel when it was shower time (so someone, usually me, ended up using a wet towel) or I used a dirty beach towel. After a year or so I stopped asking if he would please consider buying a second towel. I was always rules lawyered that “towels were a waste of money!” and that I was such a “pampered princess” for wanting a goddamn clean towel to dry myself off with.

Once, I brought my own towel with the intention of leaving it to use. The next time I stayed over, my towel had been re-purposed for use in the garage as a grease towel. Apparently, he needed a towel to clean up a spill, and of course grabbed my only towel instead of one of his own. He was constantly pressuring me to leave more clothes and personal items over at his house, always couched as for my convenience, but the issue with the towel planted a little voice in my brain that none of my personal things would ever be respected. Indeed, I also tried leaving a t shirt and workout clothes a year later – guess what got turned into rags when he needed them?

When this boyfriend stayed at my house, nothing was ever good enough or comfortable enough or convenient enough. My room was too bright for him to sleep, parking was hard, he hated the neighborhood. He complained that I didn’t have enough pillows on the bed; therefore he was FORCED to take my pillow out from under my head while I was sleeping, so he could have one under his head and another to hold on to. Know what I did? I BOUGHT ANOTHER G-D PILLOW FOR HIM TO USE. He made such an ordeal about staying at my place that I just stopped having him over; I always went there because it was easier than hearing him whine. All the while, he’s pressuring me to move more and more of my personal articles to his place.

It was that pressure to conform that finally became my breaking point. He tried, oh how he tried, to manipulate me into the type of partner he wanted: a stay-at-home trailing spouse who wanted kids and to move back to the suburbs (not knocking anyone who does want this, but it’s not for me). I tried to break up with him once in person, but he rules lawyered and intimidated me into staying. It took another year for me to work up the courage and the reasoning (I know now that “I’m not happy” is a damn good reason), and then I dumped him over the phone while he was away on vacation.

The reason I call it the “Towel Paradox” is that when I met my current SO, he had PLENTY of extra towels. The first few times I stayed over he had one bed pillow, and guess who got to use it until he could get to IKEA to buy another? ME ME ME! Once sleepovers became regular events at his place, he went out and bought me an extra toothbrush and multiples of my shower stuff, completely unprompted, so that I wouldn’t have to tote everything across town to stay. I was treated like a welcome guest until the relationship progressed to the point where I became an equal occupant. He left things at my house, loved staying over, and I felt OK leaving clothes and my belongings at his place. My things were respected, and he went out of his way to carve out a space for me in his life, not cram me into a space that wasn’t there and .

TL;DR – LW, I hope you find your way to a place where your needs are respected and you are cherished for being the amazing person you are, and that you always have a clean towel.

#893: “I want to leave my husband but I can’t seem to make myself go.” Also, it’s Pledge Drive Week. | Captain Awkward
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