They’re Great… But (Deal Breakers)
In today’s video I’m going to talk about Deal Breakers.
What is a deal breaker? I would definite it as a quality that would disqualify someone as a dating prospect, regardless of how many other wonderful traits they have.
Sometimes we can find someone who is absolutely great. You love them, you love spending time with them… But you have a deal breaker
An issue that one of you just find unacceptable and you can’t overlook it.
In today’s video I’m going to share an excellent email I got from a 29 year old woman who just break up with her boyfriend.
Maggie: We broke up on Saturday after an argument about his drug and alcohol use. I said I was worried about his behavior and then I became quite critical and nagging. He ended it saying that although a break up wasn't what he wanted he didn't think he was the right person for me because he way he lives his life upsets me.
Craig: I feel like you are trying to blame yourself for nagging him here. This was not a 50/50 situation where the break up was your fault. I think it’s a good sign that he is aware that his lifestyle is upsetting you. He at least some awareness that he has a problem.
Maggie:To give a background to this, we've discussed/argued about his lifestyle before. He smokes a lot of pot (like say 3 times every day). He also drinks quite a lot outside of social situations. While he's in no way an alcoholic it does sometimes worry me in combination with the pot. He admits himself that he has always used the pot to cope with everyday problems since he was young..
Craig: I think you may be minimizing his drinking and smoking. Smoking 3 times a day every day plus drinking “ a lot” is not a good sign. He is honest about how he is using substances to cope with problems.
Maggie: He had a family member pass away recently and it is affecting him. I honestly don't know whether my issues with all this is an over reaction or not. Obviously he has been through a hard time with the death. And I really couldn't care less if someone smokes pot sometimes but it's the amount that he smokes and the way he relies on it that worries me.
Craig: Losing a parent is definitely one of the hardest things a person can go through in life. It can be very painful. However, he has been coping with his issues by using substances for a long time. He has to start finding some healthy coping skills in order to have a healthy lifestyle.
I think you have a genuine concern for how often he is smoking.
Maggie: I've been confused and stressed about how to deal with all of this of this throughout our relationship. At first when I brought up my worries to him I was very calm and nice - he reacted well to this and said he would try his best to change. He reacted well because on some level he knows he has a problem. He isn’t totally oblivious.
I think he genuinely has tried to cut down but found it difficult and there hasn't' really been a noticeable difference. In the past couple of months I've been getting frustrated and snapping at him/nagging him which caused the arguments. I also feel I distanced myself from him a bit too because his behavior made me unsure whether we had a future. You are right to have distanced yourself. You are scared because you know his behavior is unhealthy.
I always felt guilty about it and obviously it contributed a lot to the break up. It sounds like you disconnected from him and you didn’t like how that felt. And over time it became more and more aware to you that something is going on.
I've probably not painted a great picture of him as a boyfriend. However while his lifestyle worries me, he was genuinely a great boyfriend in every other way. Treated me like a princess, always there for me, kind, fun etc. Always made time for me. And when we weren't arguing about the above we had a good time together. That's why I didn't want us to break up, I guess what I wanted was for us to talk things through and try and work it out.
Craig: It sounds like in many ways you had a great relationship with this guy. That is what makes deal breakers so tough. They are a tough call. But you know he has a substance abuse issue that he is just not dealing with.
Maggie: He text me of the blue yesterday after a couple days no contact. Saying he knows he might be making a mistake but he knows his lifestyle choices will upset her. He thinks she is great and he doesn’t want to hurt her.
Craig: In some ways he is acting like a real adult and very mature. There isn’t any anger or hurtful words. They are both kind of dealing with this reality.
Maggie: I didn't know whether to text back or what to say. I also don't even know why he text me since he's just repeating what he said the night we broke up. In the end I wrote that I understood and I apologized for the part I played in our break up (being over nagging and critical etc) . I don't know if sending this text was a mistake. In any case he didn't reply so obviously he didn't mean he'd changed his mind. I've not contacted him since.
Maggie: I don’t think you have anything to apologize for. I don’t think you’re nagging or being critical. He has a real issue and if you love him you to see him at his best. I wouldn’t worry about sending that text message, although I certainly don’t think you had to apologize.
Craig: I wouldn’t contact him. I suspect you guys aren’t quite finished yet. I think he will contact you at some point to get together and talk.
Maggie: I accepted the break up right away. Said I understood. Thanked him for the time we had and told him to take care and that I wished him happiness then I left. I went no contact immediately (slipped up sending one text after I left that was just an excuse to contact really about photos) I've been through a break up previously with someone else where I made every mistake under the sun! (Calling, texting, begging, crying etc...) and I felt like an idiot afterwards. I'm determined not to do the same this time. plus I am aware of the benefits of no contact etc.
Craig: Sounds like you did a great job of learning from past mistakes! Excellent job! Very proud of you.
Maggie: Do you think I have a chance of getting him back and if so what is the best way to go about it? (I.e. continuing no contact and if so when would I break this no contact if I don't hear from him)?
I also wonder out of curiosity whether you think it was a mistake for me to send the apology text to him reply to his last text. I deliberately made sure it didn't sound like i was apologizing to win him back (I wrote I know it doesn't fix things but I'm sorry).
Also, as an aside a friend of a friend has asked me to go on a date with him next week. I don't know whether dating this soon is a good idea or not. I feel guilty at the thought of it. Just wondering if you had any opinions on this.
Craig: First of all I want to congratulate you on the way you handled yourself. I think you both did an excellent job of acting like adults. You sent an excellent email that gave me a really good job of what is going on!
So first of all I think you are absolutely right for confronting him on his substance abuse issues. I think they are more severe than you want to admit. I have no issue with someone smoking or drinking occasionally. However, this is every day.
The biggest thing you need to look at for substance issues is if it is interfering with his functioning of life. In this case it is. Because it is interfering with your relationship. You know that he has a problem. You have to listen to your gut and I think you’ve done that.
I think you are in a situation where you are dealing with a deal breaker. These can be very tough. I think that you are looking at the long term with this guy and you’re having some major concerns. And I think they are very valid concerns. You don’t want to be married with kids one day and you’re dealing with one sick kid with strep throat and one who’s running around the house and he isn’t helping because he’s too high. You need someone who is emotionally ready to do that, he isn’t.
You have to really look at that what a future with him would look like and I think you have and you know it’s a problem. I think he may be in some real trouble if he doesn’t want to get a handle on this issue. However, he has to want it. He hasn’t gotten to that point yet.
Many women will be roped back in by promises. He’ll promise to stop, and then he never does. He has to do something first and then talk with you. He has to get some kind of real help such as Alcoholics Anonymous or some kind of help for his substances. Also, I would really encourage some couples counseling (but only if he got himself help and dealt with the substance issue first).
But first and foremost he would have to get a handle on his substance issues. The first part of that is acknowledging he has a problem. He hasn’t really done that. Losing you MIGHT be enough of a catalyst to get him help, but at this point it doesn’t look like it.
He knows that he’s bad for you. I think he feels bad about that. Although it hasn’t been enough to motivate him to change.
I don’t think the text to him makes much difference. He knows you care, he cares about you, and he knows he has a real problem. He can either deal with that problem or not. There is nothing you can do for him in that regards.
Continue to do no contact with him. If he messages you I would simply say something like. I really care about you, but unless you are ready to deal with your substance issue, I have to move on. I wish you the best.
He may want to have a conversation with you in person. I think that would be fine too. Just tell him that the issue is a deal breaker and he has to get help (BEFORE you consider getting back with him).
I know break ups can be very painful and I’m so sorry to see you going through it. You both seem like very nice people! I do think you did the right thing by confronting his substance issue. It is a very legitimate concern. You are at an age where I’m sure you’d like to start a family. You need someone who you know you can count on to put you and the kids first. When someone has a substance issue, that always gets put first.
The bottom line is that you have a real deal breaker here. Unless he wants to get himself real help, and he needs to do that BEFORE you get into anything with him (I’m stressing this for a reason).
As far as going on that date, I think you should go on it. I wouldn’t jump into anything, but going out one night to have fun could do you some good. You are single now and the sooner you start going out and having fun, the easier this will be for you.