Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Be honest with yourself about holiday dilemma
Q: How do you tell the difference between a reasonable sacrifice and just caving? I'd rather spend holidays with my husband, but because of logistics, etc. (divorced parents who live 800 miles apart), it might make more sense for him to go to his family, and me to mine. I'm a little bit sad, but I figure someone is going to be a little bit sad however the plans work out, so it might as well be me. Thoughts?
Sacrifice vs. Caving
Carolyn: I'm in the whatever-works camp. However, when you're doing it only because you don't want to upset someone else — someone who has every reason to expect a couple to spend holidays together — then I have to wonder why you're martyring yourself instead of just alternating fairly. Family pressure?
Sacrificing vs. Caving again: I'll admit, some of it is parental guilt. I work on about a third of all holidays, so three sets of parents are already getting diminished time. And my mother is a terrific bean-counter. So at some level I'm aware that I'm letting her make things stressful. But this happens just on holidays, and I've figured out successful ways to manage her the rest of the time. If I find a way to make peace with letting her walk over my life in this one area, is that okay?
Carolyn: Here's permission to call it okay: Before you make a tradeoff, say it out loud, and make sure you agree with what you're doing. For example, "I would rather pander to my mother than spend Holiday with my husband." Strip off all rationalizations. An honest yes makes it a go, and an honest no means you stop caving.
Social life is not a good reason to stay with boyfriend
Q: I don't think my boyfriend and I are right for each other. After 15 months, I find myself disappointed in many aspects of our relationship.
However, I'm hesitant to call it off because he's in the social sport I play twice a week, and he was one of the group-friends that I was making right before we started dating. He was friends with these people for years before I moved here (a year and a half ago). I'm not just losing a boyfriend if we break up; I'm blowing up my whole social life. I don't think I'm ready to deal with the overwhelming loneliness that will come from this breakup, but I know that isn't a good reason to stay together. What do I do?
A: Blow up your whole social life. But, before you do, map out a plan to keep circulating socially. For example, decide either to stick with this team and ride out any drama, or to switch teams. And, stock your calendar with events that seem even somewhat interesting to you, be it volunteer gigs or gallery openings or group lessons in a new sport. Make plans for a weekend visit to out-of-town friends, too, to restore your confidence and remind yourself what you're really like.
These would make sense even if you were staying with him, come to think of it, to blunt any dependency. Just plan concretely — and quickly, because the gap between deciding to break up and breaking up is just stringing a body along.