Should I break up with this gorgeous, loving man?

My boyfriend and I have been dating for 9 months. We're both nearing 30. We've both been in serious relationships before. Let me start with the good stuff. First, we're strongly attracted to each other. Secondly, he's a fascinating, interesting fellow and we can talk about a lot of things -- we've both traveled a lot, both have post grad degrees and have been through a lot of the same academic experiences.. We're both into politics and like discussing social issues. The other great thing is that he's wonderful at showing affection.. he makes me feel loved, protected and cared for and I try to do the same. He's very sweet and thoughtful. For example, when I went away for a trip recently, he cleaned up around my place while I was gone, bought me things I'd need when I'd get back, and met me at the airport with a bouquet of roses. And did I mention he's gorgeous? He takes great care of himself and is very attractive. Third, we spend a lot of time together.. I'd say we're together 5 out of 7 nights. And generally we have a good time hanging out.. as long as we're eating, watching a movie or taking a walk, things are basically fine. But once we start talking..

Okay - so the bad stuff.

Although we have some stuff in common, we're also very different. He's French. I'm American. We're "opposite" star signs. I'm into spirituality and meditation, and he's.. not. I believe in values like forgiveness, whereas he thinks that being "bitter" or "angry" is actually a useful emotion. I'd say he basically has a chip on his shoulder and a victim mentality. Although he's been very successful, he's always complaining about France.. he's a minority (as I am I), but we have very different ways of seeing things. Whereas I'm in favor of basically trying to move forward, succeed and be happy without blaming other people or groups, he's always complaining about racism and prejudice - and while I understand it (hey, I'm a minority too), it gets annoying and frustrating to hear about it on a daily basis.. particularly when, as I said, my boyfriend is a successful, well-educated man. I want to be a loving, supportive girlfriend and I know he's had to face discrimination, but at some point you have to get over it. Our different ways of seeing the world in terms of race also spill over into our relationship.. when he gets angry, he tells me to "go find a white guy", mostly because I think he's insecure that I had a fling with a white guy shortly before I met him. He, on the other hand, actually had a long term relationship (3 years) with a white French woman - so I've never understood why he makes such a big deal about my dalliance or why it's even an issue for him.

We have a pattern of arguing about once a week.. often about social or political issues. We've tried over and over again to identify how we push each others buttons and we've resolved over and over again not to do it, but it seems we can't help it. We're both sensitive people and we have not so good tempers. We fight over everything from Barack Obama's politics to gay marriage to feminism, the relative merits of watching crime shows.. it's like every topic is a possible venue for discord. We don't get into situations where we denigrate each other or call each other names, but we do get into yelling matches, cursing at each other and I HATE the way he talks to me when he's angry. Let me give you a typical example from today:

He brings me coffee and pastries and we're reading Le Monde on a lovely Sunday morning. We come across an article about the race relations in France, and he starts complaining about the way that France ignores the history of blacks but focuses instead on commemorating the Holocaust. He asks me what France has against black people. I tell him that though there is racism in France (and there is), there is also a lot of antisemitism, and that the Holocaust wasn't that long ago. At that point, he starts to raise his voice, saying "your argument is bullsh*t!" By this he meant, as I discovered later, that he hears that argument sometimes from people who want to say that the Holocaust is more important than other group's histories and grievances. That wasn't at all what I was implying, but the fact that he assumed I was, and then cursed at me really angered me. Okay - let's pause for a second. In an effort to smooth out our relationship and avoid conflict, we already agreed not to curse at each other when we disagree on things, and he KNOWS that saying that my ideas are "bullshit" really angers and upsets me. I tell him, calmly, that I don't appreciate what he's said, that he has't given me a chance to even explain what I mean, but that I don't want to discuss the issue with him because I feel disrespected. The conversation doesn't end though, and maybe that's my fault.. instead of completely dropping it, when he kept talking, I did respond to him. I guess I could have ignored him. But I didn't. So the argument continues.. I'm laying in bed.. he stands up and starts raising his voice, pointing in my face, telling me about how he feels I've disrespected his culture and that I don't understand his history or what it's like to be a minority in France, etc, etc. For a while, I keep my cool, but I eventually I lose my temper too. I also end up raising my voice and telling him to stop standing over me and pointing at me. He does stop, but he goes on talking about his "origins" and why he's so sensitive, and I tell him that I don't care where he's from, that doesn't give him the right to dismiss my views as "bullshit" and then to stand over me yelling and pointing. At this juncture, he gets upset that I said I don't care about his origins, he starts to take his things, saying that I should "go get with a white guy" .. he also packs up his computer, which I had been using because mine is broken.. he knows I can't work without it (he has two). At that point, I tell him he should take all of his things and that I can't deal with this kind of conflict in my life and that it's over. We had just had a similar argument about a week ago (about something else that had nothing to do with politics or society) and he had promised me he would do whatever it took to avoid conflict, and obviously it didn't work. He changed his mind about his computer, asked me several times to take it, but my pride wouldn't let me accept it.. I felt like he was trying to manipulate me.

I know that our relationship right now is caught in a cycle that neither one of us seems strong enough to break.. we really enjoy each other most of the time, but we disagree on so many things that little fights, debates and arguments come up so often, and every now and then one of those debates turns ugly and we end up yelling at each other. I HATE that. And the problem is that if we stop talking about all the issues that would be controversial for us, then we'd have nothing left to talk about. So I don't know what to do. I've never been in a relationship as intense as this one.. we've really had amazing experiences together and I've grown so much as a person.. at the same time, it seems like our communication/philosophical issues are so deep as to be insurmountable. My boyfriend has so may of the qualities I'd want in a life partner: he's affectionate, thoughtful, interesting, well educated, successful, loyal, loving and I believe he'd make a great father. But on the other hand, he's prone to conflict, doesn't seem to respect me or my ideas when he disagrees with them and his worldview (when it comes to politics, society and religion) are also just not at all similar to mine. For me, it's not a huge problem that we disagree on things, so long as we can respect each other and not go crazy when we talk about a hot button issue.. but he's very sensitive.. maybe even more sensitive than I am.. So - does the conflict outweigh the happiness and joy we've had? Is there any way to make this work? How do you know if you're not compatible enough?
By Baker 15 years ago :: Dating
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