When does a deal breaker become a breakup? How much does a bad haircut matter? Dear John has some answers.
I’m really mad at myself. I started dating a man about 8 months ago. He had made it really clear from
the beginning of our relationship that he never wanted to be married or have children. I’m in my early thirties and those are things that I really want. When we first started dating I said I understood and I thought to myself, well, this is just someone to date and have some short-term fun with. Basically, I was just killing time until I met someone else who has the same common goals that I do. The problem is that I have fallen deeply in love with him. I know that I should end our relationship because marriage and children are something that I really want. Honestly, when my relationships have ended in the past there has been some big falling out and it was fairly easy to say goodbye. Now, I’m in love, everything has been really great and I just can’t break up with this person, but staying with him is preventing me from meeting anyone else. I really only want to spend time with my boyfriend and I think about him constantly. I psyche myself up to have a conversation about ending our relationship and then, when I hear his voice, I melt and completely wimp out. I haven’t broken up with him yet, but thinking about it makes me immediately sad, lonely and heartbroken. Do you have any advice? How can I do this?
Dear Accidental Love,
He doesn’t want to get married or have children, and you want both of these things. Clearly, staying together will require one of you to accept not getting what you want.
Let’s start with what you shouldn’t do. Don’t stay in this relationship hoping he’ll change his mind. That’s not fair to him or to you, and it wouldn’t make for a very happy time while you’re waiting.
The only way for you to get what you want is to break up with him and search for someone who wants the same things you do. I don’t say that lightly or without an appreciation for how hard it will be. (And I’m curious: how did you fall so hard for someone who’s so wrong for you? Do you have a pattern of falling for guys who can’t give you what you need? If so, that’s something you should explore with a therapist.) But there’s no way around it. Talk with your boyfriend and explain that you can’t stay together because you want to start a family. It doesn’t matter how eloquently or sensitively you say it; just get the words out and stick to them. Breaking up will hurt. But over the long haul, the cost of staying together will surely hurt more.
My girlfriend of two plus years surprised me yesterday by showing up for our date with a really short haircut. Like a boy’s haircut. From 1955. I just hate it – her beautiful long hair was one of the things that first attracted me to her. I was able to hide my dismay and claim it was shock (sort of true), but every time I turned to her during the movie we went to, I’d forget about the haircut and my first reaction would be, “Aaaaaa! Who’s that?!?” Of course, she loves it, which figures. So I guess by now my question’s pretty obvious: can I say something? And what?
Dear Hair Brained,
It would be a little presumptuous to offer your opinion about her haircut if you had just started dating. But two years is a long time – you’ve exceeded the minimum amount of time required before you can be honest about stuff like this. So if an opportunity arises for you to gently let her know that as great as she looks now (you didn’t think you could be completely honest, did you?), you prefer her hair long, there’s nothing wrong with doing so.
But you don’t say exactly what you expect to come of it. Once you’ve let her know how you feel, she isn’t obliged to wear her hair long for you. Maybe your opinion will matter; maybe it won’t. Be prepared for either eventuality. If she says, “Oh, really? That’s too bad, because I’m planning on wearing it this way for a while,” my advice to you is to get used to it. Because if this is a deal-breaker for you, you might as well just date a wig.
I’m in my early twenties, as is my boyfriend – soon to be ex-boyfriend? We’ve had a lot of fun together, we’ve travelled, we’ve just hung out…we have always been very comfortable together enjoying each other’s company and doing things we both like to do. But that all changed about a month ago when he started playing World of Warcraft – you know that online video game where you just wander around endlessly doing different things but it never really ends? John, this game has taken over his life. He will play for an eight-hour stretch without giving it a second thought. The last, or maybe next-to-last straw was when he wanted to go home after dinner out because he was tired and just wanted to go to bed. So I dropped him off, remembered I forgot something at his house and went back to get it, and guess what he was doing? Yup. He claimed it was just to check on something or other, but I’m sure that’s really why he wanted to get home. I decided not to make a big deal out of this obsession as long as it wasn’t interfering with our time together, but we’ve clearly crossed that line! So what do we do? He’s a super guy, I really care about him, but I’m not going to be a woww. (World of Warcraft widow.) Is there any hope?
Dear Not Playing,
Perhaps you can sign up for World of Warcraft yourself and create an avatar that does nothing but follow his around all day embarrassing him in front of his virtual buddies. I’m kidding, but maybe playing with him would be more fun than you think. It’s at least worth investigating what it is he finds so compelling about this experience before completely giving up on your relationship, don’t you think?
I’ve never played this particular game, but I am well acquainted with how easy it is to get so immersed in a video game that that’s all you want to do. If it gets to the point where it’s interfering with your real-life relationships, I don’t think it overstates things to consider it an addiction of sorts. You should start by talking to him about it and letting him know what’s at stake here. It’s completely reasonable for you to expect that your time together will not be cut short so he can get back to his game. If he continues to choose ogres and wizards over you, find someone who’s not so eager to flee from the challenges of dealing with real people.
—Photo Flickr/Blue moon in her eyes