*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Finding out your partner doesn't value your relationship as much as you do and that they think it's ok to go out with other people from time to time can make you doubt whether you can still trust them.
And when they keep doing the same things and somehow find a reason for it and blame you for what's happening, can you go on loving them, or is it time to give up on what you thought you had with them?
My friend Miranda, who lives in Phoenix, Arizona, has been dating her boyfriend Colin for two years. They started out as friends in college, and once they graduated and could focus more on their careers, they also wanted to see if their relationship could be different.
"I felt that it was clearly the right time to go dating. We'd had two years to know each other as friends, so we knew plenty of stuff about our families and habits. Deciding if we could be a couple was something else, so I was very excited when he asked me to go out in Phoenix," Miranda recalls.
They went to have dinner and had such a good time that they kept seeing each other four times every week for the next few months. Once they'd been dating for five months, Colin asked Miranda if she'd like to move in together.
"That made me feel like our relationship was moving forward. We wouldn't just meet casually whenever we got the time. We could be together every day and see what it was like living together. I couldn't help thinking about an engagement too, of course, but it was still early for that," Miranda said.
She agreed to move into her boyfriend's apartment in Phoenix, and, in a week, she packed her things, ended her lease, and was ready to start a life together.
The beginning was a bit difficult because Colin expected her to cook each meal when they were home, and she wasn't used to that. On the other hand, she wanted to see him happy, so she agreed to give it a go.
"It wasn't like it was something I couldn't do. I just hadn't taken the time to try. I could cook if I wanted to. And later, when our relationship became permanent, and we got married and had kids, I would have to cook for our kids too, so why not learn?" Miranda said.
Even though she did her best, Colin wasn't really pleased with her dishes and kept telling her his mom was a lot better at cooking.
"And when we visited his parents, he also pointed out during the meal what I did wrong when we were home in Phoenix. His mom was nice and didn't say anything, but I still felt strange. It wasn't fair to talk about it like that. I was trying," Miranda said.
As time went by, Colin didn't only tell her she didn't cook that well. He also began avoiding their dates and either working longer in the office or asking her to stay home so he could meet people at the office.
"The problem was he didn't just meet them. Most of those lunches or dinners were with women. And I wasn't sure what his intentions were," Miranda said.
Once two months passed this way, Miranda decided to have a talk with Colin and figure out what he wanted and why he didn't seem that interested in her anymore.
"I felt like our relationship was taking second place to everything else. I couldn't go on that way. If there was someone else, the least he could do was tell me," Miranda said.
And what Colin told her certainly left her wondering how they could go on being together. His lunches and meetings in Phoenix were mostly about work, but every month he dated another woman two or three times.
And he wasn't sorry for it. He felt that happened because Miranda wasn't doing the right things to keep their relationship going on the right track.
"He goes out with someone else every month; he says I'm boring. I keep trying to do what he asks me, and he's never pleased, and then he starts looking for other options. That's beyond anything. I'm not going to cook anything. Why would I spend that time when he doesn't value me at all?" Miranda said.
Colin is upset with her because he thinks she won't do her part to make their relationship work, but he can't promise he won't date anyone else when he goes out in Phoenix.
"We're not married yet. I have to be sure she's my choice to commit to long-term. I don't see what's so wrong about that. And the longer she avoids cooking and cleaning the right way, the more doubtful I get that I want to stay with her anyway," Colin said.
What do you think about this situation? Is it fair for Colin to blame his girlfriend because he can't just be with her and is still trying to see if someone else could be better than her? Should Miranda move out and let him figure out what he wants and only listen to him if he decides their relationship matters more than anything else?