Do We Have A Future?

“I have been living with & dating my boyfriend for 3 years. I adore him, most of the time ;D, & feel as though we are going to be together but also at 26 am starting to feel a bit taken advantage of. I try to help him through life as much as possible. I do know for sure he is a bit of a late bloomer but I convinced him to enroll in university this year as he was tired of a dead end job & he has been going through with that so I am happy for that.

It isn’t as though I personally am necessarily afraid of the dating & age thing, but I see myself settling down with someone by or around 30, even moving in the next year when I finish university & he could if he wished to transfer. Ideally I would love to be with someone who will discuss moving & planning some sort of future with me. This kid won’t even plan a vacation consisting of a road trip with me next year. My mom says he isn’t the one & a lot of other things which I won’t bother mentioning. I don’t tell my friends because I fear the same answer.

I don’t know what to do Gala. I love this guy but something still feels wrong because I feel like the one who is trying for something bigger. Is there any hope?”

It’s a cliché, but I think it’s true when I say that the two of you are in very different places. That’s okay. It happens. I think it’s pretty rare that two people grow & change at exactly the same rate. There is always going to be a bit of push & pull in a relationship, that’s just how it is.

A bit of push & pull. A BIT. The whole thing shouldn’t be Sisyphean. You shouldn’t have to be the one driving this relationship. You shouldn’t have to feel that you are constantly pushing him, or that you are the one dragging him, kicking & screaming, into the next phase of his life. Where’s the fun, balance or mutual respect in that situation? Furthermore, if going back to school, travelling or moving aren’t things that your boyfriend wants to do, then that’s just how he is, & you need to respect that. We are all entitled to our own lives, after all, & to do whatever it is that makes us happy. It sounds like he is kind of happy being a bit of a slacker, but it doesn’t sound like you’re happy allowing him to be that way.

I think this is a classic case of falling in love with someone & then expecting them to become someone else. It happens all the time, but people come into relationships with their own stuff, & it is their stuff! You don’t have any right to tell him to discard this or that habit just because you don’t like it. That is who he is. That is who he will probably always be, unless he decides that he wants more, & starts to change his life on his own. You cannot change people. They can only change themselves.

I was actually talking to my friend Barbie about this the other day, over dinner. We were discussing past relationships & the various ways in which they had gone awry, & she said that her biggest problem had been always expecting her boyfriends to become someone else. We are all so guilty of this! There is no such thing as a perfect person, & honestly, if you did manage to mould your lover into your ideal, could you really respect them? I spoke to my mother the next morning, & we started discussing the same thing. She told me that often when people get married, one half of the couple thinks, ‘Oh, now that we’re married, they’re going to be like this or that’ & it is NEVER that way! It will be exactly how it has always been! Just as we have to learn to accept ourselves, flaws & all, unconditionally, we have to learn to accept our lovers exactly as they are. Right here & right now, without any extras & in this very moment.

I’ll say it again: no one is perfect. We all do annoying things, & despite which, one person’s dream girl is another person’s evil shrew. It’s really a question of working out how much your partner’s flaws bother you. Some flaws might be deal-breakers, while others are ones you can grin & bear. This is not to say there isn’t room for compromise — you can easily ask your boyfriend not to leave his toenail clippings on the coffee table, or request that your girlfriend get her goddamn dog trained so it doesn’t pee on your floor — but most people are pretty into being how they are. It has worked for them for however many years, after all. Why would they change now, & why should they? Just to appease you? It doesn’t work like that. Sometimes people will try to change for others, but it never sticks. They have to want it for themselves.

Your mother could very easily be right that he is not “the One”, & I think the reason you haven’t asked your friends for their thoughts is because you know, in your heart, that your mother is right & your friends will mirror that back at you. I guess the question is, do you need to be with “the One” right now? If you’re happy with your boyfriend, & can learn to accept him the way he is, then maybe that will do for the time being. But if what you really want is an equal, someone who is on the same page & someone who is enthusiastic about planning a future with you — & by the way, none of those are unreasonable things to want, & there are thousands of guys out there who could be that for you — then it might be time to bail.

We could easily sit here talking about your boyfriend’s failings & perceived lack of maturity, but what good would it do us? None at all. All you can do at this point is either change your reactions to him, alter your expectations, or hit the road, Jack!

Having said all of this, the truth is that if we concentrate on the negative, that’s all we will see, but if we focus on the good things, they will grow & multiply. Just like writing a Things I Love Thursday list, positivity is infectious & colours your whole world. So you can choose to obsess over your boyfriend’s failings, or you can decide to love him just as he is. Despite your mother’s opinions about your relationship, no one knows what goes on behind closed doors. No one knows what your relationship is like except for you & your boyfriend. Only you really know what is right for you & your relationship.

I’ll leave you with this. No relationship is perfect, & there’s nothing wrong with having a whole lot of not-so-serious fun with someone whose company you really enjoy. But if a future together is what you’ve decided you want, both of you need to come to the party — & you both need to do so with absolute joy & 100% commitment. If one person isn’t ready for that, I don’t foresee the situation turning out very positively for either of you. What you do from there is entirely up to you.

Nonpareils, have you ever been in a similar situation? What did you do? How did it turn out? If you had to go back, would you do things differently?