Loving An Artist: A Different Kind of Dynamic - Relationship Advice
I’ve been reading your hubs since the beginning and although I have a feeling of where you’ll be headed with your response to my questions, I think I want to hear it. I think I’m ready to hear it. Then again, you might tell me something entirely different from what I expect, and in that case I’m even more opened to read it. In any case I chose to seek your advice because of your beautiful sensibility and exceptional insight.
I’ve been in a relationship for three years now. He is a gypsy at heart, an artist that never got over the fact that to create does not make others love you, and so now he is a frustrated artist... But his artistic side, his free spirit are what drew me to him.
He also is deeply emotional and self centered. There are days that he sees so black, it drains me completely. Whatever I say to help him see through it, to help him feel better, nothing works. And when I tell him, his only reply is “When YOU are feeling down I’M always there for you”. This is true... to a certain extent. I’ve made a mistake recently, that had no impact whatsoever on his life, and he judged me and got so angry at me that we did not speak for a few days. That event created a crack, a breach in my feelings for him. I think it shook the foundation of our relationship.
He often complains about being alone when the children are with me, when all he has to do is drive to my place (a 30-45 minutes drive) to be with us. He also “jokes” about having another girlfriend while he waits for me. Makes remarks about my supposed lack of availability. I often feel pressured to address him in a certain way as not to hurt or anger him. Because when he is in a bad mood, everything and everyone is out to get him. His family and friends don’t care about him, he’s the black sheep, he’s taken advantage of, etc etc.
And then he does occasionally mention suicide, although I’ve told him countless times that bringing this up is careless and cruel. I know he wouldn’t do it anyway. I know he says this out loud as he vents his feelings, but he is not suicidal. It’s the fucking head games I can’t take anymore. At other times he will tell me “thank God you’re here, you’re the only one that loves me”. And the following day I'll sense I just get on his nerves.
It hurts me a lot to even read this. We do love each other. I love the way he loves me. But what is also clear is that his mood swings are destroying me. Us. Am I hanging on to this relationship because of my own issues? Am I feeling guilty and afraid of l etting him go and hurt him? Or am I just giving this a chance and trying to be human and accept a person that is different but nonetheless loving and worthy of receiving love as well?
Thank you for taking the time to read me.
Thank you for the kind words and for trusting me with your situation.
You're in a relationship with an artist. I've been there.
There's a few different aspects of your relationship you've touched upon. I'd like to go through them one by one before I tell you what I think.
You know he's self centered. Sometimes artists go in that direction. It's hard to describe to people that aren't artists or have never been involved with one. It's unthinkable to most people to ever put up with this. But the balance of it the depth to which he feels, and you noted that's something that really attracted you to him. I would probably give different advice to different people exactly in the same spot you're in, who chose different words to describe it. It's not for everyone. It's a special relationship. I understand.
You said he tells you he's there for you when you're feeling down. And he reacts with fight when you try to "help him" and that nothing works. Well, yes. He doesn't want to be fixed. He doesn't want to be criticized which is is how he sees fixing. He just wants to be loved. Even when you describe the good moments, he's saying things like, you're the only one that loves me. He's not saying, you can teach me how to be better. He doesn't embrace that part.
All the complaining he does about sharing you with your children, as unhealthy and childish as it is, speaks volumes about how much he wants you around. He's clearly telling you in a fucked up way that he appreciates having you in his life.
The black sheep thing is just silly. The suicide threat is similar. People that threaten to do it, aren't going to do it. And people that are self centered never do it. Unless you suspect a mental illness you haven't shared here, I think your take on that is correct. Those things like saying everyone is out to get him all fall into that same category. He grasps at straws and at any thing he can mentally conjure up to punish himself and you when he feels angry. Much of what you're seeing is the behavior of a 3 year old. You mentioned kids, so I assume you probably raised a few little people. I'm sure you've experienced pissing a 3 year old off for something inane like denying him a cookie before dinner. So he grasps and cries out. He says things like you're ugly and you love his sister more and why doesn't he ever get anything he wants. If you think about it, your partner is behaving in much the same way. And if you really think about it, you knew how to handle it with the 3 year old. That means you know how to handle it with the artist. Ignore, yes him to death, compromise. "If I give you HALF a cookie will you stop this please?" And at the very least you always knew this child didn't mean what he was saying. Remember that.
Many people can't do what you did here. And the time has come for you not to do it anymore, too. I really do "get it" and understand why you were attracted. Why you loved. Why you stayed. The intensity and depth of loving an artist and in his way, his loving you back, is really something special. But here's what I'm thinking.
This relationship has run its course. All things, Molly, have a beginning, a middle, and an ending. This is at its ending. You used the phrase "destroying you." It's time to undertand that you've changed, grown, moved through this and it's time to move through something new. There is nothing wrong with that. It doesn't mean the 3 years you spent together wasn't worthwhile. It just is what it is. At certain times in life we have that ability to handle certain situations that at other periods of time, you just can't. You are allowed to chose not to want to be in this anymore. This may have taken a toll on you. Emotionally, even physically. It's alright to say this was amazing, and an experience you'll cherish. But it's time to move on from it. There is no blame. It's time to experience something a little more supportive and a little easier. This is what balances us. This is how we grow.
I think we get caught up in the idea that if we end a relationship that it must have been a mistake, or wrong. Part of why you may be clinging to it could be that you're trying to validate the choices you've made and the things you've felt. Molly, they are valid. I promise. Moving on doesn't wipe them away, and it doesn't make them bad.
Actually it's the opposite. With some time, distance, and perspective, you will probably find you can look back on your time with him in a very positive light.
It has nothing to do with his not being worthy of love and by all means you should not feel guilty, you have done nothing wrong. The fact that he punished you so severely in judgment for whatever mistake you made shows he's ready for you to move on as well. Please see that. It simply was what it was. And now, it is over. Let it be over.
There is a movie I would love for you to see. It's called New York Stories. In one of the tales entitled Life Lessons, you may see some of your artist in Nick Nolte's character in those 30 minutes. Glimmers. Parts. "You make art because you have to. Because you have no choice. It's not about talent. It's about no choice but to do it." It was written by Richard Price and directed my Martin Scorsese.
The ending is specifically important.
You can't be in a relationship that is destroying you. You have children you need to consider. Drowning in him for a while was probably something you'll mention on your deathbed. But the words you chose to close your email are clear. This has run its course and you need to let go.
A Scene From Life Lessons, from New York Stories
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