Love Letters: Am I Too Independent?

Dear Meredith,

I'm a 30-year-old woman in Portland and have spent the majority of my 20s having fun dating, but have only had several relationships that lasted longer than a few months. I love my friends and my job and stay extremely busy, and never find myself desperately in need of a male companion.

The last several months I have been in a serious relationship. We had an instant connection and both admired each other's independence. He has a job that he is passionate about, respects me, easily fits in with my friends, and can talk to anyone. We usually spend one weekday together and most of the weekends. The first couple of months were incredible and I really felt like we were falling in love.

But recently we had our first fight due to serious communication issues. The same fight seems to keep recurring. I realized that the cause is that I am not used to being in a relationship and having to answer to anyone else about my schedule or life, and he knows this. So when he gets upset or offended he is so focused on not turning me off that he instead bottles up his emotions and then lets them all out at once causing an argument and making me feel that he has kept track of every little thing that I do wrong.

These arguments have weakened our connection and make me feel like I am walking on eggshells around him and not being myself. He is also not being himself because he is always holding in his feelings. At this point I feel myself losing interest fast. I can't figure out if our communication issues are the cause. Or maybe I am creating the communication issues because I am too independent.

– Miss Independent

Fights can be great if you can learn from them. Have you learned anything about what he needs to know about your schedule? Have you adapted your behavior at all after listening to his concerns? And on the flip side, has he learned anything from these arguments? Or is this just a cycle of him getting angry about the same thing and waiting until he's ready to scream?

Instead of walking on eggshells, just ask him how he's doing. Say, "Hey, you seem off. Can we talk about it?" Also be very clear about your intentions. Explain that while you're used to being on your own, you want to learn how to be in a relationship.

If these check-ins don't work and the tension grows, it's not a match. And it probably has nothing to do with your independence. You guys just might want different things from a partnership.

Readers? How can she get out of the eggshell zone? Will this relationship work?

– Meredith