My boyfriend is very thoughtful and has always been there for me and my children. We have great communication and chemistry, and we enjoy each other’s company. There has not been any talk of the relationship moving to another level, which appears to be fine with both of us. We both have our space, we can build our relationship (including his with the children), and my children and I can keep our routine.
There have been issues because he has very few responsibilities while I have the management of a home, children, and career, causing my time to be limited. His schedule is flexible so he often sleeps in until 10-11 a.m., and works until 7. My need to “get things done” before I can relax and have fun makes him crazy. But my life could easily get out of hand if I don’t manage things this way.
In order to fill his schedule and his need for fun, he joined, about a year ago, a rowing club which is coed. The club members meet several times a week and travel four to six times a year for races. He has enjoyed this group very much. They also like to drink and party into the night after races or after practice. The couple times I have been around the group I found it to be an extremely flirtatious group – sometimes in a juvenile way. (One of the females in the group asked, in a flirtatious tone, if she could move my boyfriend’s “nice, straight, hard stick”, referring to his oar that was sitting on a cooler. I’m not a prude, but what adults act this way?!!).
Shortly after starting with this group my boyfriend met a waitress while out with friends (he lied about where he was), and subsequently got her number and asked her out. She did not respond. He then began perusing online dating hookup sites, and he updated his old profile. He said he never got a response and he stopped within a month or two of looking.
He feels terrible about this behavior and has said I can trust him, that the grass is not greener, and that he was being an idiot. He has been extremely remorseful and introspective about why he did this so that he will not do it again. I never suspected a thing while he was “looking around.”
That was a year ago, and things have been great, but I still have trouble trusting him and I wonder if I am overreacting to his transgressions. Now I am negative about the rowing club and agonize when he is out of town with them or when they have a practice/party. I wonder whom he is texting and if he is where he says he is.
Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? Or even after six good years, are these issues significant enough for me to make a change? I love him, my kids and family adore him, and he is a good man. People make mistakes and get off track, and I want to move past this. The things he did linger in my mind…and I am afraid that the result will be an erosion of our relationship. — Mom of Three
I’m curious as to how you found out about all these transgressions — the waitress, the online pursuing. How do you know how flirty his rowing group is and the specific thing the one woman said about moving his oar? I’m assuming you were there, but maybe that’s not so? Maybe your boyfriend simply told you these things, and then I have to wonder: why? Does he want you to worry? Does he want you to not trust him? To break up with him? To do something to change the dynamic of the relationship because after six years maybe things aren’t as “great” as you seem to think they are (and not for nothing, but a relationship where the boyfriend regularly feels crazy because his girlfriend has responsibilities doesn’t sound all that great or very well-matched either). And maybe not moving your relationship to another level isn’t so fine with your boyfriend. You say it only “appears” fine to you both, which makes be believe you haven’t had a conversation about the state of your relationship in a long time.
If you two haven’t recently (or ever) had the discussion about goals, it’s time. Where do you see this relationship going? What is its purpose for you both? What role is it filling in your respective lives? Are you both having your needs met? Obviously, your boyfriend’s needs were not fully being met, which is why he joined the rowing team (a healthy solution) and why he sought out side pieces (an unheathly solution). What about now? What has changed from then until now? Is the rowing club fully filling the hole that existed? Does he now feel completely fulfilled? Is seeing you in the time you have free after working full time and taking care of your three children and your home enough for him? Is it enough for you to have a boyfriend who shows no interest in ever being a live-in partner and parent figure to your children? If you are perfectly happy having a romantic partner who respects your personal space and doesn’t intersect too much with your family life, is your partner perfectly happy with that?
I suspect what is nagging at you is more than just your boyfriend’s asking for a waitress’s number and perusing online dating sites a year ago and being involved with a flirty coed rowing club. I suspect you also fear that you two simply are not on the same page and that you aren’t in a position to meet his needs. I also suspect that there may be a lack of respect for him on your part. Your boyfriend is 43, is never married, and has lived with his parents for eight years for no altruistic reason whatsoever (his parents do not need him to care for them). Like, what is he avoiding? Likely, all the things you tackle head-on: financial responsibility; home ownership; parenthood. You are juggling so much while he’s … not. Not at all. And rather than use his surplus energy to support you in whatever ways he can, he goes “crazy” when you need to “get things done” before you can relax. That would drive me crazy. What an overgrown man-child!
This is bigger than your boyfriend making mistakes and getting off track. It seems to me the bigger issue is a fundamental difference in lifestyles — and a lack of respect for your differences — as well as possibly differing goals and unmet needs. You two need to sit down and have some serious state-of-the-union talks and see if you can get on the same page, or even in the same chapter. If you want to commit to making this work — and I would think that’s probably a big IF — a compromise is needed. It would behoove your boyfriend to better support you as you tend to your responsibilities, and you would do well to carve more time to join him in his fun-seeking (are partners ever invited on the rowing trips? You should go, not just to share in something he enjoys but to check out the dynamic of the group).
If it were I, I’d probably MOA. A 43-year-old who’s lived at home with his self-sufficient parents for eight years? That alone is reason enough to sayanara on out of there.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.