Being a Person & a Partner, Finding the Balance - Relationship Advice
I just found your site and am super excited to get your opinion.
My boyfriend and I have been together for about 4 years. We live together, have 2 chihuahuas, I go to school, and he works on the road 5 days a week.
We absolutely love spending time together and have a blast when it is just me and him. A typical weekend is for him and I to spend a quiet friday night together and spend all day Saturday doing something fun. But when Saturday night comes around we like to go out, just not typically with each other. I go out with my girlfriends and he goes out with his guy friends. We oftentimes end up at the same bar or party, but even when we are there we don't cling to each other. We socialize and have a good time.We always go home together at the end of the night and compare stories about the fun times we had and then spend all day Sunday together before he goes back on the road.
Really there is no void in our relationship, but I feel like other people are trying to create one for me. When I go out without him, everyone asks me where he is, what he is doing, who he is out with, and why we aren't out together! It is like people are offended that we can stand to be apart for more than 30 minutes. I often get dirty looks or feel judged because I can go out and have a good time without my boyfriend and he can do the same.
Is it just other people's insecurities coming out to try and play with my relationship or is it just the fact that they could not fathom having that much trust in another person??
Yes. It is other people's insecurity coming out, but it is also their lack of self.
Often when people write to me for advice I can gage it in a way that offers them advice and opens the doors to extending that advice to others. But in your case there isn't too much I can offer you. You've completely got your shit together, girl. You are doing it right. This advice is really more geared for others out there, to help them be more like you.
Let's start with looking at what a healthy normal functioning guy is like. Usually he has a group of guys, or even several different groups of guys. He's got his guys that he goes to sports events with. He's got a different guy he works out with, or goes to lunch with at his job. He's got childhood friends, friends from college. He's got a best friend, or 3, but there is no one he talks to 6 times a day the way girls do. He includes his brother, his brother in law, his neighbor. He doesn't stop and say, this friend will be jealous if I invite that friend out for a beer. That kind of thinking is womanly.
That relationship building block translates into a guy's romantic relationships as well. He wants to spend time with you, and do romantic things, or fun things, or everyday things like run errands. But he also wants to do things with his brother, or his workmates, or his buddies. Of course you will probably go through those stages of not being able to get enough of each other, which is passionate and awesome. But those are stages, and in a healthy relationship there is more than one stage.
If you have a guy that wants to know exactly where you are 24-7 and has a problem with your choice to spend some time alone or with your friends, you have a problem. That is absolutely an early sign that he is an abuser. It's obsessive, and it's not healthy.
It may not mean he's going to become violent, but it absolutely means he's not healthy, or balanced, or safe.
Carly, your email doesn't say it's just the women that ask you where is your beau and why isn't he with you. I'm sure it's the guys too. But I'm sure it's for two different reasons.
Many women don't get this. And many men suffer because of this. The women that approach are inflicting their feelings about this on you. And the men are more likely asking what's going on. Like, a leashed dog seeing an unleashed dog in the dog park and saying to him, "You're not tethered? How come? What's going on?"
When a man meets a woman he's interested in, and he tells his friends or family about her, he will say things like how she's the karaoke champ, or goes roller blading, or that she's a successful real estate agent. He'll describe her as an individual, not as an appendage. Of course as they become a couple he may roller blade with her, or go check out the Karaoke night she likes. But he shouldn't have to. If it's something he's open to trying but turns out it's not for him, it should still be something she does if it's something she enjoys.
Guys like an independent woman. In general, most men are not looking to be attached at the hip. A woman will hold his interest for a lot longer if she's actually interesting.
There is a whole scary syndrome that some women enter where they are looking for a life mate that will actually give them a life. They don't want to advance in their careers, or engage in some serious commitments regarding volunteer work or hobbies or choices, because they constantly want to give everything up for the man that comes into their lives. Sylvia Plath wrote about this fundamental difference between men and women. Women are looking for this unconditional promise of forever, while men are looking for a playmate, someone who'll be a friend. Not someone who'll take over their lives.
Sadly, so many men have only met those kinds of women, that they don't even realize that there is a normalcy out there that they can have. So they settle for a woman with these issues. And then they look to someone like you, Carly, with curiosity.
Of course there are situations that do not apply to what we're talking about here. In any relationship there needs to be respect and compromise. There needs to be fair communication and consideration.
If your partner doesn't mind that you go out with your friends however they feel uncomfortable if you're going to the bar where your ex bartends, well come on. That's totally fair. If your partner likes to go on vacations with family, friends, or siblings every year, that's cool, but of course going to Hedonism or a Singles Cruise is pretty much off the table. If your partner is used to going out every day after work with the work crew, it is understandable that you ask that to get cut back to only a few nights a week, or maybe every day is ok but cutting it short so they're still home for dinner. Or, maybe you could join them at this happy hour ritual. There's lots of decent compromises that allow for consideration for the new partner and budding relationship, while still maintaining individuality.
If one partner has given the other reason to be untrusting, there is a very special set of rules that apply. It's personal, and involves rebuilding trust and healing the heartaches. That's again something other than what we're talking about here. It would be like comparing learning how to ride a motorcycle correctly, and in learning how to ride a motorcycle again after having crashed and lost a limb.
A relationship consists of two partners. If someone can't be themselves, if they can't be an individual, then it is impossible for them to be a good partner.
My grandparents did everything together, from making coffee in the morning to taking out the garbage together at night. They were happy, and of course there are going to be exceptions to any rule. But you don't write the rule based on the exception. In general, two people that come together do not have exactly the same interests all the time. There should be a healthy balance of couple time, friendship time, work time, and alone time. If the person themselves doesn't have a healthy balance, then the couple can't either. And when I say balance, I don't mean perfectly equal segments. You may find you spend more time on work than you'd like to, and that you want to spend the majority of your free time on a hobby, or charity work, or with you partner. You have to find your own balance. And then, you have to "balance" that with your partner's.
Carly the fact that you and your boyfriend spend so much time together and sound so communicative and, well... "balanced," I'm sure you've ironed out any little bumps that may have cropped up. And things change over time. Other factors like work hours, moving, money, family and friendships all change over time. What's working this year for ya might not be functional a few years up the road.
Many men have commented or emailed to various Hubs I've written that the mistrust can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The woman that snoops and accuses and tries to keep him on a short chain forbidding him to be out of her sight, is creating the situation she fears. When someone is constantly living punished for something they didn't do, they may eventually say what the hell, if I'm paying the price I may as well do it. Even if it's not a conscious choice, it's still something that occurs because of her actions. She creates an unhealthy place where he doesn't feel respected or good. He will eventually want to feel respected and good, and she leaves him no choice but to find it elsewhere. (Of course I believe he needs to tell her first, there is a right way and a coward's way, but that's another hub.)
Carly, instead of being defensive, put the askers on the defense.
The next time someone says to you: Where is your man? Why aren't you with him?
You say: "Where is your independence? Why can't you ever be You anymore? Why are you only his girlfriend now?"
If someone says, Isn't it odd that you two are here but didn't come together? Your response should be, "Isn't it odd the amount of free time you have to spend monitoring other people's healthy relationships instead of being in one?"
Don't answer, and don't defend. Put it to them to defend - or at least think about - why they can't let their man out of their sight. Or why they have lost all sense of themself. Or why they are utterly amazed when they see two people in love and balance.
Best to you.