I guess what I’m feeling is that my boyfriend wants to be involved in decisions that I believe, as my children’s mother, I should be making without him, and that he wants to be involved in a controlling way. Now, don’t get me wrong: If my ex asked me for three weeks from now to take the kids on a Friday night because he had an event planned, then I would say that I would have to look at my schedule first and then, if I didn’t have anything planned, I would switch weekends with him. But my boyfriend has the mindset that I’m just constantly doing whatever my ex wants when I think that the relationship is give and take and, if I want favors, I need to give favors too. This last weekend was the last straw for him, and he grabbed his stuff and moved out, saying that, basically, if I’m not willing to let him be part of the decision-making, then he can’t be with me. I just want to know if I am incorrect or even crazy to think the way I do. What is the right thing here? — A Desperate Mom
On one hand, I can see your boyfriend’s point about being included in some decision-making regarding your children, since he lives with you, he’s some sort of parental figure to them, and you share a life together. And maybe you regularly exclude him from all decisions regarding your children, in which case this “last straw” might make a little more sense, from an emotional standpoint. I guess? But that’s playing major devil’s advocate, and really, I think he sounds like a jerk for thinking you need to ask his permission to take your daughter for an hour and a half between games when it’s your ex’s weekend. It would be one thing, like you said, if it were weeks away and your ex were asking you to take a whole night or to swap a whole weekend. But this was an hour and a half. It’s not like this was going to disrupt significant plans you might have had. And you knew this. Which is why you didn’t “ask permission” or run it by him before agreeing to do this favor for your ex.
As you know, being a parent requires sacrifice and compromise. Being a co-parent with an ex requires juggling of schedules, compassion, and willingness to put aside personal differences for your kids’ sake. It doesn’t sound like your boyfriend is up for that. He’s not supporting your role as a co-parent. He’s not being compassionate about what it requires from you to perform this role well for your kids’ sake. And so he has drawn his line in the sand and told you he can’t be with you. Good riddance, I say.
From the forums:
Immediately after his response I felt hurt, insulted, and rejected. I am also pretty angry with him because I feel like he is being a typical stubborn man who doesn’t want to commit “all the way.” I am not ready for marriage or an official engagement, but the symbolism of our having rings showing each other and others that we are committed just seems like the right thing to me. He said he would do it but in his heart it wouldn’t mean a thing–he would just be doing it for me. I’m not the type of person who will accept anything that is disingenuous just to get my way. I obviously would love for him to feel the same way I do, but I would at least settle for his doing it for me if I knew that he understood what it means for me and were doing it because he cared. At the end of the night, we unfortunately decided to put the idea of rings and moving in together on hold, which truly has me so disappointed.
Am I being unreasonable and/or too demanding in this situation? I usually try to compromise and work with him on every issue, but I don’t want to budge on this one. I am 24, he is 33. In my opinion, we have been taking things verrrry slowly this whole relationship. Like at the pace of a turtle, but I am always patient with him because I don’t want to force anything on him. With time, we always end up on the same page, but I’m not sure about this one time and so I’d appreciate some advice. — Commitment Has a Ring To It
Yeah, you are being unreasonable. A ring is a symbol of marriage (or an impending marriage). You said you are not ready for that. You know who wears rings when they aren’t yet ready for marriage? High school kids. And they call them “promise rings,” promising to, like, stay committed. Grown-ups, on the other hand, who aren’t yet ready for marriage can show commitment to each other in different ways. Moving in together, for example, is a big way of showing commitment. (I would not advise doing this though until you’ve done these 15 things.)
It sounds to me, based on your attitude toward the pace of your relationship, that you are needing more affirmation of your boyfriend’s commitment to you. Maybe you thought moving in together would be that and then you freaked because it’s not enough commitment. Or maybe it’s too much commitment and you aren’t ready yet. Maybe you’re looking for some milestones to hit so that you can convince yourself that your boyfriend is all in, and the “moving in together” milestone felt too big a leap from where you are currently, in which case a ring would signify some arbitrary milestone you actually aren’t yet ready for (marriage). I don’t know. But it’s obvious you feel insecure in this relationship, in your boyfriend’s intentions, and in his commitment to you.
If his moving in with you isn’t enough validation that he sees a future with you, you are right to put that idea on hold. But, honey, ain’t no ring gonna fix what’s going on here. Only good old-fashioned communication will help. And it may be that, after communicating your thoughts, your needs, your fears, and your hopes, you discover you simply aren’t on the same page. Better to know that now and MOA if that’s the case. At two years in, when the idea of moving in together is on the table, you really need to be pretty much on the same page about future goals and an agreed-upon timeline for meeting some of those goals.
He’s not your boyfriend anymore and his love life is no longer your business. I know it’s hard and it sucks and it’s painful and it makes you question his motives and, apparently, his new girlfriend’s motives, too. But I’m telling you it doesn’t matter, it’s none of your business, and you will only drive yourself crazy if you continue obsessing about what it all means. He is someone who started dating another woman a month after you broke up. If anything, this should affirm for you that breaking up was the right decision. You say you haven’t moved on yet. Maybe it’s time to try.
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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.