dear sharideth: I will go where you go…

Dear Sharideth,

My boyfriend and I are good together. He cooks, I clean. He’s more personable, I’m more social. We balance out each other’s neurotic quirks and it works for us. However, I’m extremely independent (as is he) and we find ourselves coming back to the same conversation (sometimes an argument) – you don’t have to do something just because I want to do it.

The other night a group of my friends were going to trivia at a bar and I wanted to go. Being the great guy that he is, he came with me. On the way there I could tell he really wasn’t into it, especially when he started talking about how he didn’t want to socialize. I asked him if he was okay and told him he didn’t have join if he didn’t want to. He said he was fine. Once we got to the bar he was mopey and silent, which was awkward because for awhile it was just the two of us. Something was clearly wrong and I just felt like I had dragged him to a bar and was forcing him to do something he didn’t want to do. Eventually he began to interact as people showed up, but when we got back to my apartment it came up again because it felt like I was dragging him to spend the night.

In the end I became extremely frustrated, because I see my questioning if he’s alright and telling him he doesn’t have to go places or do things as a courtesy (also, it’s just no fun when someone is mopey), but he sees it as me asking him every 15 seconds if he’s okay (an exaggeration, because I know he hates that) and that he’s stuck in a corner. He believes that I’d be mad if he went and that I’m mad because he didn’t retroactively leave. I don’t know how to explain to him again that I’m not tricking him. He says he’s of course going to do things he doesn’t want to do because I want to, which I understand. But it’s just frustrating when what I see as my caring about his feelings and interests gets turned into me cornering him, because then I feel like I’m being silly and overreacting. We promised complete honesty with each other and I told him that’s what I’m doing when I present him with two options – it’s not a trick.

I’m just frustrated, because it seems as if both of us are stuck. I think he’s being unreasonable in making himself do the little things (like go to a bar) that he doesn’t want to do and I think his reactions are hurtful because they make me feel like I’m at fault. He thinks he’s just being a good boyfriend and is confused. I completely understand that one does things for the person they care about, even when it’s not interesting to them (been there done that), but going to a bar just seems like something so trivial to make yourself do.

Am I just being silly? I know this may not give you the best description of the situation, but when is it okay to say “I don’t want to do that” and stay home? And how do I get him to understand that?

Thanks!

There Is No Pouting In Trivia

dear TINPIT,

the first two questions are easy to answer.  so let’s just rock those out, mkay?

are you being silly?  no.  not even a little bit.

when is it okay to not want to go and stay home?  depends on the activity.  for me and my husband, the answer to when craig stays home is every time i go dancing.  every.  time.  he hates it.  on the flip side, i almost never go to concerts with him anymore.  not unless it’s someone i really want to see.  most other things we go together.  or we don’t.  girl time is girl time.  guy time is guy time.  and sometimes one or the other just doesn’t want to.  all that to say, as long as you’re not actively avoiding being in each other’s presence, it’s probably fine to not constantly be in each other’s pockets.

go see Magic Mike without him.  i know i’m going to.

how do you get him to understand that?  that’s a tougher one.  probably the first thing you need to do is ask him why he feels he’s required to go.  most guys, if told they don’t have to go to something they don’t want to go to, will happily grab a 6 pack and play some Halo.  so it’s possible there’s something else going on, but not necessarily.  maybe his last girlfriend made him feel guilty if he didn’t go everywhere with her.  you’ll have to feel him out.

next, you’ve got to get him to admit that he doesn’t believe you when you tell him it’s really okay and then find out why.  he’s not going to like you putting it in those terms, but you’ve got to be as direct as possible.  if you beat around the bush, he’s just going to keep being the bush.

if he still doesn’t get it, i’m not sure there’s much more you can do.

what i am sure of is that you can’t keep going the way you are without resentment starting to set in for one or both of you.

lastly, when you do talk to him about it, do it when neither of you are frustrated or angry.  talk about it at a time when it’s not an issue and do not put him on the defensive.  smile on your face the whole time.  say your piece.  then let him say his without interrupting.

good luck.

let me know how it goes.

oh so sincerely,

sharideth

any other advice for our friend?

ever been in a situation like this?

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3 comments on “dear sharideth: I will go where you go…

  1. Excellent answer, Sharideth. I didn’t get the impression from her message that she actually asked him to go, just that she was invited and wanted to go and he decided he should go with her. I’m firmly of the opinion that in most circumstances the “go where you go even if I don’t enjoy it” applies only to things where they ASK you to go with them. If she really wants you to go, then you decide whether or not you can endure it for her sake. 😉 But otherwise, torturing yourself when she doesn’t expect you to go with her either says you don’t believe she won’t be upset later that you *didn’t* go, or that there’s some reason you’re concerned about where she’s going. That could be jealousy, or it could be you don’t consider it a safe place for a woman to be alone. A bar can certainly be a potentially dangerous location to not have a buddy system; drunks can come in unpleasant varieties, and sober predators also know drunk girls make good targets. I’m sure there’s some other potential explanations I haven’t thought about, but definitely agree she needs to find a time they can talk about this and find out what’s making him feel like he must go.

  2. One of my good friends said he struggled with something similar for a while. For his wife, when she says “yes,” she means “yes.” He grew up in a house, however, where that wasn’t the case. “I don’t care” really meant, “I care and you need to figure it out without me telling you.”

    So maybe your bf grew up in a similar place. If so, you’re going to have to make sure your yes means yes and your no means no. Because if you are inconsistent in other areas he won’t be able to trust you in this one. As Sharideth said, good conversation can always help you understand what is going on.

    • Abby says:

      Yes, yes, exactly! I wanted to say this but couldn’t figure out how. In addition to how someone grew up, another issue can be past dating experience with women who don’t say what they mean (let’s face it, there are quite a few who play around with mind games and emotional manipulation). I have had guy friends who were shocked to realize I say what I mean and not what I don’t mean, no matter what I think they want to hear. I hate it when people will not communicate clearly but expect their significant others to guess what is going on and what to do. They both end up miserable if they keep going that way.

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