Giving up the single life doesn't mean giving up the good life
Q: I am a 28-year-old single male. I am in no hurry to get married, but I'm getting tired of being the odd man out with friends.
On the one hand, I love my life because I can do whatever I please: spontaneous trips, happy hours, outings, going to see my family, etc.
On the other hand, it can be quite lonely. Independence is great, unless you're missing out on connecting with that special someone.
I dread having to give up ANY freedom to do what I want, when I want. I am smart enough to realize a good relationship is not built on this selfish principle, but given that I've been living like this for so long (and it's not all that bad), I find it hard to see myself being happy if I have to give up a lot of independence for someone else.
I guess right now I live in an extreme, and a relationship is about striking a balance, so how do I keep my independence while pursuing a relationship? Do I just need to face that growing up means making sacrifices?
A: You're right, good relationships aren't built on the principle of having what you want, when you want it. But they also aren't built on the perceived opposite, of forcing yourself "to give up a lot" for someone else.
Life with a partner is different, clearly, from life alone. But choosing your partner well means you want this different life more than you want the old one. It's trading old ways for new, not sacrificing them. Instead of fighting your reluctance to change, use it. Let it alert you to the difference between trading up for a life partnership, or trading down. Any sense that you're trading down to be with someone means you haven't found the right someone.
Different backgrounds shouldn't influence decision
Q: My boyfriend and I come from very different backgrounds. His parents are not very supportive, including begrudging him the money for college. He has taken out loans but has to beg them for even gas money to drive home. My parents are very supportive and do everything they can for me.
Although I love him, I'm having a hard time coping with the stress of his constant money and family problems. It's making me question our future. Am I being petty and superficial?
A: I can't tell from here whether you're flagging a legitimate problem with your boyfriend's ability to handle adversity, or pouting because his courageous efforts at independence have inconvenienced you. The details are everything here.
Fortunately, the whole money issue is a red herring; your wanting to quit matters more than the reasons you want to quit. For the sake of argument, let's say you are being petty and superficial. If you were in your boyfriend's position, would you want a petty and superficial mate to stay with you, just because staying has the outward appearance of being the right thing to do? Surely that goes in the "please don't do me any favors" file.
You're college students living (with varying success) off your parents; you can save the more complicated thought processes for more complicated entanglements. Stay because you want to stay, and go because you want to go.