I love my boyfriend of (almost) two years.
He has a demanding high-stress, physically exhausting job. On evenings and weekends his favourite pastime activity has always been to drink beer and relax on the couch.
I’m an active person who enjoys going out for happy-hour drinks, evening walks or yoga sessions after work.
I like date-nights, Saturday morning hikes, beach adventures or shopping. But it’s like pulling teeth getting him to go with me, and once we’re out, he’s miserable.
I feel guilty for pressuring him to accompany me when I know it doesn’t make him happy.
We don’t live together, only see each other once a week and on weekends. I’d like to either see him more or move in together.
However, lately I’ve been going over less because I know he’ll guilt me into just sitting and drinking.
Staying at home for hours gives me cabin fever and anxiety.
I love a chill night on the couch with a few beers as much as the next person, but not as much as him.
He feels neglected if I leave him or don’t go over because I want to do something else.
I’ve tried doing a separate activity like puzzles or cleaning in the same room, but he gets annoyed that I’m not right next him relaxing and drinking like he is. It’s causing arguments.
Our relationship has always been like this, but it’s really bugging me now as I get more serious about us having a future.
How do I compromise? I want to take part in activities that make him happy, but I want him to do the same for me.
Am I in the wrong for wanting him to change? I want to make memories with the man I love and not simply exist side by side.
Stuck on a Couch
There’s no “compromise” happening if you’re the only one adjusting your activities to please your boyfriend. He’s doing almost zero adjusting for you, and acts grumpy if he ever tries.
I understand that his job stress makes him seek the most relaxing leisure possible. But there comes a time in every relationship when a couple have to confront this reality: The two of you aren’t exactly the same. If you’re going to be together over the years, you both need to find ways to compromise on how to spend time together… as well as on many other important decisions.
If he won’t get off the couch on a weekend when there are non-work stress-free hours, and if he won’t take a walk in fine weather, or go to a beach in the summer… then realize that you’re going to be on your own a lot even if you move in together.
Recognize too that years of this sole relaxation method can add up to a level of alcohol dependency. Maybe he’s still a young man (you don’t mention age) but a constantly repeated habit often becomes, well, a habit.
You’re not in the wrong for wanting him to feel a desire to please you by spending some time doing things you enjoy, just as you’ve been joining him on that couch.
BUT if you stay together hoping he’ll “change,” forget it. He’ll always like his first choice best.
The possibility of a future together depends on whether he soon gets it about making each other happy by sharing your interests sometimes (without his making you both miserable).
If he doesn’t get it, move on.
Reader’s Commentary This is regarding a column Feedback in which your reader focused on a boyfriend’s “control-freak” behaviour - and not religion - in reaction to parents’ fears about lifestyle demands made on their Christian-raised daughter by her Muslim boyfriend and his mother (May 30, following May 8):
“I am a Hindu with a strong involvement in my prayers.
“I fell in love with my wife when I met her. She told me then that she is also a Hindu but would never pray with me.
“So, I pray for my family and my friends.
“I love my wife very much. We are both from different parts of the world, with different upbringings.
“I never force my wife or my children to pray in the same manner as I do.
“When you love someone for who they are, there’s no reason to change them.
“I hope and pray that the daughter of these concerned parents reads your column.”
Tip of the day:
If you’re the only one adapting to a loved one’s habits/tastes/activities, it’s a one-way give, not compromise.