Barbara writes, “I believe that our differences as a couple should be a non-issue in a relationship, but in my case, they are a huge problem. I feel that our different knowledge bases and skill sets should complement each other, as I am highly organized where he is not, I have great money skills where he doesn’t, he is very relaxed about everything where as I am less so, he is very fit where I am not so fit. But I feel somehow he does not agree, although I do feel that he does appreciate my qualities. I do also agree that I’m not insecure, In fact I know I am not, say any more than the next person. I think we all have our little hangups, but mine are not major, I know that. I did talk to him and tell him that I’m not having him talk down to me and that if he is trying to prove something that it’s really not working. There have been and still are some major problems in our relationship. However, I do love this man very much. I have known him for 8 years now. Until 8 months ago he was living with his wife. His wife found out about us and after 2 months of us not speaking we met up and have been seeing each other since. Whilst I was spending time with him over the 8 years, it was not a normal run-of-the-mill affair, as we didn’t sleep together; I refused to because of his situation. It was the hardest most heart breaking time of my life; I loved him and wanted to be natural with him, but something deep inside of me would not let me. It used to get hot, I can tell you, but I could never go through with it, no matter how much I loved, desired, and wanted him, I just could not be a bit of sex, so our relationship developed more emotionally. All I know is that I love him so deeply, I can’t just walk away, even if he does not treat me right. I do believe that he really did make a mistake that he didn’t realize until he had done it, I believe it troubled him greatly to realize how it hurt me and how he nearly lost me for the sake of mistake. In the 8 years I have known him its’ the first time I have ever seen him show regret/remorse. The condescending attitude is the thing that probably would have me leave him if he continues as I’m not stupid and I can’t ignore the little digs. I have told him now I’m aware of it, and I guess I will have to see if he continues.”
No relationship is perfect because neither are we. We all have our issues and disorders and a couple that manages to understand and appreciate this truth can have a perfectly happy relationship. It is those that make a big deal about the differences and fail to appreciate the 100s of beautiful things that they share that fail in their relationship.
So if this man’s condescending attitude is his only fault, I would say that is not enough reason to call it quits. Maybe all this time he has not realized how you felt about it and how impolite and tactless it is of him by behaving in this way. If his source of joy is making others around feel small in front of him then he is a sick man. Just one in a while, he should compare himself with some the sharpest minds at Oxford or Cambridge and recognize that he is nothing but that is no reason for him to feel bad. I think you need to be more assertive and forceful and say it in a calm voice that his attitude is unacceptable and he SHOULD change it. It is not only bad to mistreat you, it is bad for him regardless because if this is how he is going to treat his students, colleagues, and friends, they will all never be his friends. If you will get too emotional or not be able to tell him in a calm voice, write it down and hand it over to him. That will show you mean business and he should change his attitude and behavior.
In the meantime, just relax. I sense that you are proud of who you are and have very high self esteem. Maybe that is a problem for him because as you suspected insecure men have a hard time dealing with strong women (like you) who are comfortable in their own skin. By constantly putting you down and making you feel bad about yourself, he is making a desperate effort to feel better about himself. Hopefully, once you clearly tell him that it is not only not working but damaging the relationship, he will realize that he needs to put his act together. And if you do have differences that need resolution you can work them out by talking as grownups.