Friday, May 4, 2018

The Case of the Neutered Lover

Here is an interesting letter, sent by Anonymous, to therapist Lori Gottlieb. When you read it, I challenge you to figure out whether the letter writer is male or female. He or she does not give any indication about gender, so we are, for all intents and purposes flying blind. 

Gottlieb does not, in her response, give any indication that it matters to her. She does ask whether the couple in question is going to have children, but this, given our culture warp, no longer serves to designate a gender.

Anyway, call this the price of gender confusion. Here is the letter:

I have been dating my current girlfriend for about a year and a half. We are really happy together, and never fought until it was time to decide where to go to graduate school a couple weeks ago. There aren’t schools that we were both accepted to (despite our best planning) and are interested in attending.

I was only accepted to three programs. She was accepted to all her programs, and naturally wants to go to the best programs she got into (I am in favor of this) over ones near my options. The programs can mean a long time apart (one to two years for hers, four to five years for mine).

As my program will take longer, I think that if we want to transition to a long-distance relationship while she finishes her degree, we would probably want to move in together as I finish mine. She has said that she doesn’t want to do that. Instead, she is pushing to remain in the same city the whole time, with me putting off my program until she finishes, and then going “wherever I want” afterwards. Her reasoning for going to these better programs is they offer better degrees for salary and job security.

I can’t help but see the mismatch here. She is pushing me to defer on my career goals when I don’t know if I’ll get into the same programs if I reapply in two years. How do you know whether you are asking too much of your partner, or they are asking too much of you, to be together? What do you think of my situation?


Obviously, we are dealing with college students, or, at least young people just out of college. If the couple is heterosexual and the female is insisting that the male postpone or forego graduate school in order to support her career, then he has become the weaker, more submissive partner. If he wants that, he is welcome to it.

She is pushy. She is bossy. She wants to control him. She wants to make him her appendage. If he stays around or even considers this regimen he deserves what he gets.

For the record, we do not know whether the disparity between the programs that admitted her and the programs that admitted him were the consequence of diversity quotas. If so, diversity quotas are punishing men and rewarding women, regardless of qualifications. This has an obvious impact on their relationship dynamic.

If the letter writer is a female, the situation changes. In that case her girlfriend is staking out the dominant role in the relationship. And the letter writer is being rendered a housewife whose place is to keep girlfriend company while she pursues her degree program. The notion that the two will reverse roles after she finishes makes very little sense. If for no other reason than that once she finishes and gets a high powered job, will she want to work less or to postpone entry into the labor market because it’s now her girlfriend’s turn?

For her part Gottlieb offers some sensible advice about learning how to negotiate levels of commitment. Happily, she sees marriage as an eventual possibility, and she is correct to see that if this couple cannot negotiate their differences, they will have far more serious problems down the road.

She does not say that the girlfriend is acting very much like a demanding, rigid, uncompromising witch. And that the problem really lies with her, not with the letter writer. Why Anonymous has been putting up with a woman who has such a bad attitude is beyond me. If Anonymous is a male, he should stop whining and whimpering and should find himself a suitable girlfriend. He should begin his graduate education at the best place that accepted him and should kiss his girlfriend goodbye. If she doesn't like it, too bad. If he caves in to her imperious demands he will suffer a loss of confidence and self-respect that will make him useless as a boyfriend.

If Anonymous is female, and wants to play the submissive role in the relationship, good luck to her and to the two of them.


Shaun F said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shaun F said...

I thought it was a woman who wrote the letter. And when you observed

"In that case her girlfriend is staking out the dominant role in the relationship."

That's what I saw as well. Also women tend to write therapists a bit more frequently than men and engage in gender neutral language.

I wouldn't say this looks like the stereotypical top and bottom role. That I see often played out with female couples.

It reminded me of my cousin and her partner. Both who work for the UN or World Bank.

Their relationship is very organized with - break out weekends every 5 years to see where they are going. Career driven raving alcoholics would be an accurate observation.

JPL17 said...

If he caves in to her imperious demands he will suffer a loss of confidence and self-respect that will make him useless as a boyfriend.

Boy, ain't that the truth. Even worse, it may make him useless as a human being, if not forever, for a long time.

Sam L. said...

Say GOODBYE, writer. This relationship is now broken. Beyond repair? Most likely.

Walt said...

No matter what sex, the writer is a shmuck (or shmuckette, as the case may be) to even consider this.

Dan Patterson said...

Many women only want a baby and someone to boss around.
Give them neither or you'll be both.