I prefer to spend most of our time one-on-one and not spend the majority of our time double-dating or with her family. As the relationship progresses, I’ll be in a position where I have to potentially attend weddings, funerals, parties, and dinners. I also like to spend time on my own so I can recharge my batteries. I know I sound selfish, but I am what I am.
Am I too set in my ways after being out of a relationship for such a long time? I doubt it. I think I’m just a loner. I want to change… but can I change? If so, how? — Too Set In My Ways?
Well, first of all, you’re making a lot of assumptions based on three months with this woman and what sounds like maybe no conversations about your concerns.. Have you talked to Sylvia about her lifestyle, about her expectations of a partner, and about your ideal long-term relationship? Maybe her lifestyle doesn’t include as much socializing as you think it does, or maybe she’s perfectly fine — happy, even — attending some family and friend events on her own, without a partner in tow. But, yes, if you’re in a long-term relationship with someone who has family and friends (which is pretty much everyone) and is even a little bit social, you will be expected to meet said loved ones eventually and will probably be expected to show up at events, like weddings and the occasional get-together. But the frequency of this is really up for discussion and negotiation, and you can have those discussions and negotiations in time, and on an ongoing basis.
I, too, require a lot of time alone to recharge. Alone time isn’t always easy to come by as a mother of two young children, but I get it in. I’ve designed my life in a way that I still have blocks of time to myself, even if the time is spent working (it’s solo work, so to me it counts as alone time). I have realized though that one of the challenges of being a mother of young kids is that if I want to socialize my children, which I do, I really need to be more social than I would be if I didn’t have kids. I organize a lot of play dates and get-togethers with other families. Our weekends are often jam-packed with kid birthday parties, group picnics, visiting family, and hosting my kids’ friends (and often their parents) for afternoon hang-outs or dinners. Sometimes, by the end of the weekend, I can hardly wait for Monday morning when everyone goes away (my son to school, my husband to work, my daughter out with our part-time nanny) and leaves me alone so I have a few hours to be productive and hear myself think again. And yet, I wouldn’t trade this life of near-constant social activity despite being sometimes socially adverse.
For me, the trade-off (of my privacy, quiet time, “me” time) is worth all the extra love in my life. And I don’t just mean the love I get from my husband and kids. I have found that the community we’ve built — the community that would not exist for me had I chosen a different path that didn’t include a family of my own — brings a lot of love, too. It can be a lot of work to maintain all these relationships and to keep showing up and to help my kids foster their friendships, but it’s worth it. And as long as I continue having these pockets of time during the week to be alone (to work, to exercise, to run errands, or to just be), I stay relatively sane.
You don’t have to have the whole family. And maybe even having a long-term partner will prove to ask too much from you. Or, maybe this specific partner and her social needs will not mesh with your lifestyle and personal needs. But you don’t know until you experiment. Talk to Sylvia, meet her family and friends, give this relationship a shot, and see if you can find a compromise that works for you both. That’s what dating is all about. You figure out what sacrifices you’re willing to make and whether the benefits offered to you in return are worth it. If you decide they aren’t, you move on. But it would definitely be premature to move on now before you even see what compromises might be asked of you and what benefits would be gained.
I know our relationship is still new, but I feel as though we have shared something very real and worthy of holding on to. He was stationed at my home base for almost a year before moving to a different state two months ago, so we’ve been doing the long-distance thing since then and have managed it very well. We connect on so many levels, really seem to understand one another, and get along great. He even asked me to meet his family, and so we arranged a flight and I met them while he was doing some hometown recruitment. For a while it all seemed too good to be true, and now I’m worried that perhaps it is.
I’ve been in an abusive relationship prior to him and was also in an abusive situation as a child, so being with someone who truly cares for my well- being, makes me a priority, and makes me feel special is something I desperately want to keep.
We’ve agreed to wait until the next time we’re able to visit each other in three weeks to readdress this matter and to remain together for now (he’d prefer to stay together up to September, but I don’t find that fair to me). I just don’t how to address this conversation we’ll soon have. I want to convince him that what we have is worth holding on to and preserving, but I’m not sure how or if it’s even appropriate. I would appreciate any advice you may have and thank you for your time! — Afraid to Lose Something Great
Tell him that one of the things you love about him is his respect for you and your feelings, and that when he makes unilateral decisions about your relationship, you don’t feel he is respecting you. Because he’s not. You realize that, don’t you? When a partner says, “This is what I want because this is what’s best for you and for me,” but he doesn’t actually ask what you want or what you’re willing to compromise, that’s not being respectful. That isn’t caring for your well-being, or prioritizing your feelings, or making you feel special — all the things you said are important to you and what you love about your boyfriend.
To put your relationship on hold, with the idea that it will preserve what you have and to better ensure a future together, is a decision you need to make together. If he’s making the decision without — or in spite of — your input, then there is no future together. How can you have a future with someone who discounts your feelings? You can’t. So, in a sense, there’s a line in the sand. There’s breaking up or there’s staying together. If he unilaterally chooses the former without your input, then that’s it, your relationship is over, and you should MOA. If you decide together to put things on hold, or to remain in a relationship through his deployment, you also have to decide together what that means and what that looks like. If you’re “on hold,” do you still keep in touch? Date other people? Tell each other if/when you’re dating other people? If you stay together, are you monogamous? Do you have an open relationship (and if so, what are the rules?). And when he gets back to the states, what’s the long-term plan for your relationship? At what point do you close the distance?
Finally, remember: this is a new relationship. You’ve been together three months, two of which have been long distance. Are you really, truly willing to commit to this person and remain faithful for many months while he’s deployed? His concern about this — especially given your young age — is warranted, and you should do some serious soul-searching before you present your argument that you’re ready for this challenge.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.