After years of drifting, don’t expect him to change
Dear Carolyn: I have been with my boyfriend for seven years. We began dating because I asked him out. I was the first to say, “I love you.” I was the one, after two years, who brought up moving in together. He had no children and wanted a child, but I am the one who brought up children: My daughters were adults when my boyfriend and I had our child. In seven years, I seem to have been the only one making decisions about our future.
So I refuse to bring up marriage. I wanted it to come from him, I needed him to want it and I waited very patiently. I find myself becoming very bitter that this man obviously does not want to marry me. I know he would if it became an issue.
I do not want to break up my family. I want to be in a relationship knowing the other intends to spend the rest of his life with me. We split expenses. He has a financial cushion; I struggle paycheck to paycheck. I was a single young mother; he lived with his mother for the majority of his life and has managed to invest and save.
It is not about the money, though I do feel as if we are two separate islands. I feel so
lonely. I feel like I would be happier without him, but what cost would my child pay for my happiness? My boyfriend and I rarely argue and get along quite well. Our child is happy and content. It is only me who is miserable.
Dear T.: I get why you’re miserable, and why you pinpoint your boyfriend’s failure to merge your “separate islands” as the source of your misery.
But I also can argue that you’ve brought misery upon yourself.
You say your boyfriend didn’t put any moves on you, didn’t volunteer I-love-you’s, didn’t pine to live with you, didn’t take the initiative to have a child and didn’t even leave his mother’s nest to go out and feather his own.
So how, exactly, did he become someone in your mind who would initiate anything?
You hitched your life to Inertia Man, a body who stays put — wherever that happens to be — unless and until some external force deflects him somewhere else. You’ve been that outside force.
Again — I can see why someone might tire in that role. But you also seem surprised and hurt by his (in)actions, when his behavior looks from here to have been completely predictable. And if it’s a reflection on you, then it’s not showing you anything less flattering than what you’ve seen in the past seven years.
He is who he is. Expecting him to transform into a man of pro-action seems about as realistic as expecting him to sprout feathers and quack the national anthem.
Before you implode with bitterness — and with the help of good counseling if that’s what it takes — please consider accepting your boyfriend for who he is. He might not love you the way you want, but apparently he’ll live the way you want, provided you spell it all out.