A woman laments at competing for her boyfriend’s attention with his business—and losing.
Dear Sexes: My boyfriend (of 3 years) and I are fighting all the time lately because he wants to spend more and more time on the business he opened a while back. He barely calls, but he asks me to understand and he insists he loves me. I know this business is his passion and his dream, but barely communicating and having only a little contact just doesn’t work. We love each other and talk a lot about it, but now I’m starting to think we need a break. When I suggested a break he stormed out. I’m broken hearted over this. Do I choose to support him and neglect my needs or do I give up on love?
She Said: First, if you haven’t talked to him about your specific needs, you have to do that. Approach him with love and communicate your expectations, such as one night together a week for dinner and time alone afterward. Hopefully he can accommodate something reasonable. You cannot expect him to sacrifice the health of his business (especially in this economy) because you need him home to watch X Factor with you. Try to separate what you would like from what you truly need.
Here’s the harsh truth: commitment to one person is hard. You can look around at other relationships and other potential boyfriends and see everything you don’t have, and this can cause you to wonder why you’re not getting that from your boyfriend.
But you’ve gotta ask yourself what would change within you if he were around more? Would you be happier, less lonely, more fulfilled? Maybe temporarily, but if you plan to stay together and make a family, life is going to throw you curveballs that’ll make these seem like the golden years. The happiness, the security, the fulfillment have to come from within you now or you’re not going to have the fortitude to survive those storms still to come.
If you’re doing all this, if your life apart from him is rich and sturdy (be honest with yourself!) and you still feel neglected, then maybe it is time to move on. Maybe it isn’t the time for him to be in a relationship. That doesn’t make him a failure or a bad person, and you’re not bad for wanting something different. It’s gonna hurt, but sometimes hurt is good, it makes us stronger.
He Said: As a self-employed business starter myself, I can understand where your boyfriend is coming from. We business starters chase the entrepreneur’s dream of being our own boss, doing what we love, and trying to pay the rent all at the same time. This mission is difficult—perhaps the most difficult and risky of all employment paths. It requires both feet in, all hands on deck, and tons of support, help, and understanding from loved ones. As a musician, I am not trying to have another job, I am attempting to have my music sustain me—emotionally, creatively, and economically. It is my career, it is my goal, it is my love, it is my everything! Sometimes this “all in” approach (required by my career choice) causes friction in my relationship with my girlfriend, but for the most part, I know she has my back, I know she fully supports my dreams and visions, and I’m certain she knows I support her own personal quests for happiness and accomplishment.
Perhaps this sounds dreary or egomaniacal, but in the end, when our lives come to a finish, we die alone, so while we’re living, we really have to make sure we look out for our dreams, visions, and happiness. We look out for others too, but we must look out for ourselves. Within your relationship, you should try to support your partner the best you can. But if supporting him means neglecting your own needs, eventually you will resent your boyfriend for your sacrifices, and inevitably you will drift apart. It’s cliche, but sometimes things just aren’t meant to be. You don’t want to crush his dreams, and he shouldn’t want you to crush your own either.
If you want to try and ride this out together, and still maintain wholeness for both of you, set a timeline together. Discuss goals, expectations, and milestone accomplishments that you both want—for yourselves and each other. If your proposed paths are similar, you can find a way to make it work—even your boyfriend’s new business. But if you’re paths seem too divergent from one another, perhaps it’s time to kiss and wave goodbye. By the way, you don’t have to give up on love, you just might have to give up on THIS love. Good luck!
If you have a question for Josie and Eli, ask it here.
Originally appeared at SheSaidHeSaid.
—Photo Victor Bezrukov/Flickr