I’ve been in a three-year relationship with a man I love dearly, but I fear we’re falling apart.
I began dating him at 16. He’d been my best friend for two years.
I’m trying to be more independent but I don't think he's getting the message. We spend nearly every waking moment together and I worry that isn’t a healthy relationship.
Example: He gets uneasy when I’ve already eaten and will wait until I’m hungry again because he doesn't want to eat without me.
I have to remind him to do his homework, knowing if I don't, he won't do it.
Our priorities are quite different. I work in the summer. But during the school year, I focus my attention on school, which is extremely important to me.
He works almost 40 hours weekly and considers work more important than school - he has car payments, insurance, and school expenses.
Neither of his parents graduated college. In my family, I’m expected to earn a bachelor's degree at the minimum.
Also, money’s never been a problem in my family.
I find it difficult to balance our opposing sides. If I come home tired from school and him from work, he'll ask, "What are you so tired from?"
It’s as if he has a better reason to be exhausted than me.
I also think he’s feeling inferior as I’ve been receiving awards and honours.
I don't want him out of my life, but I’m afraid we'll never experience life on our own if our relationship continues.
He's repeatedly told me that I'm “the one” but something’s telling me I can't marry him.
If I do break up with him, how?
This is a co-dependent relationship, and you’re correct that it’s not healthy.
His not wanting to eat without you borders on control, showing that he needs you for even the basics of his life.
His insecurity about your focus on school is worrisome.
You’re young, but your instincts are sharp – you know that education is very important to your future.
And, that you need to break away from him in order to achieve your goals.
How? Sooner than later. Gently, using your youth as the reason. Kindly, saying that you care about him, but need to grow on your own.
Take six months apart without contact. Or, he’ll be trying to make you feel guilty. Don’t fall for it.
I’m in my late 40's; my boyfriend’s 10 years older. We talked early on about wanting to marry.
I’m ready for the next step after two and a half years, but he still isn't.
He says he wants to, but as he’s been divorced twice, he wants to make extra sure, and is waiting to see more things from me.
When do I realize that he’s unable to commit further, and move on?
I’ve been very patient since he’s the one who raised marriage two years ago and said he’d be asking soon.
Still Patiently Waiting
Get impatient. You’ve made it too easy for him.
It’s a common tactic – mention the prize but never end the contest for it.
It’s actually insulting that there are “things” he’s waiting to see from you.
You’re a mature woman, and he knows your qualities. He’s stalling.
Set a timeline for him to make up his mind. Don’t fall for any complaint about this being an “ultimatum.”
You’re giving him a last chance instead.
Make it clear that when the time’s up (no longer than two months), you’re done and gone. And mean it.
FEEDBACK Regarding the father whose wife was going to jail and how their daughter could keep contact with her (Oct. 30):
Reader – “If anyone thinks inmates in correctional facilities have access to email, they should think again.
“Sometimes people serving sentences measured in years or decades get access to email once a month or so, but otherwise the Internet is not readily available to those in jail, for obvious reasons.
“Email communications cannot be vetted or controlled the way mail or telephone conversations are. Even telephone access is time limited.
“Our correctional system fails to understand the value of inmates maintaining contact with families and outside support systems.
“Even those working within the system who do realize the importance of this, say that it's too difficult to worry about for inmates serving short sentences.
“For more information on this, I recommend contacting the John Howard Society (male inmates) and the Elizabeth Fry Society (female inmates).”
Tip of the day:
When a young relationship interferes with growing independence and striving for goals, move on.