Houston, we have a Nintendo problem.
I love your column and all of your sage advice. I'm hoping you can offer me some guidance here. I have been with my boyfriend going on 6 years now and lately I am feeling the urge to end it. I love him dearly, but I am not sure I am still IN love with him. To back up a little bit, we met when he was 23 and I was 21. He is not someone I would've picked out for myself, but we have the same sense of humor, we laugh a lot and generally have a great time together. He is in the military and was sent away on active duty 3 years ago. During that time, our relationship grew emotionally because we were forced to talk all the time, which was great. Also during that time A LOT of expectations were set -- he asked my father for my hand in marriage, he repeatedly stated how he wanted out of the military, he mentioned many times what our kids would look like, etc. Basically, he set me up to expect all of that on his return home. Well he came home 2 years ago and we moved in together for the first time. Things were great at first. However, I was expecting a marriage proposal at any moment, which never came. He also never got out of the military and has not been able to find a civilian job. He does part time guard duty (1 weekend a month) but other than that is unemployed. He is looking for work, but I often ask myself if he really is trying or is just going through the motions. He spends hours upon hours a day and night playing video games online -- time that I can't help think would be better spent looking for work. Worse than that he is talking about staying in the military as a career, which he knows I am against. I on the other hand am gainfully employed and am fully capable of supporting myself. He's been on unemployment, but I know he is slowing draining his savings account, which really worries me. He doesn't seem to have any regard for our future...I keep bringing up buying a house and he says "sound good" but doesn't really show any interest in looking. I know a lot of things have to be on hold right now because of his not having a job, but I feel like he isn't taking the initiative to get one! The other problem is I think he is addicted to gaming. He is playing all the time as I mentioned, and it has even begun to creep into our social lives, causing us to be late for dinners/outings and even miss them all together. I am the kind of person who likes to be out and about, but all he seems to want to do is either watch TV or play online games (usually the latter). The bottom line is I am getting sick and tired of it. I know I love him, but I feel like I deserve so much better. I know it's not normal to be so resigned to life so young. Lately I have been contemplating asking him to move out until he gets his act together. I know he would be really upset, and I am sure I would be too. On the other hand I wonder -- am I being a bad girlfriend? Should I stick it out and offer him my support and just try to be more patient? Thanks, -- Bummed in Beantown
Wow. OK. Lots of stuff here. I think you’re still in love with your boyfriend. If you weren’t still in love with him, ditching him would be easier. You just want him to get a job and be a grown-up so you can be in love with him without resenting him. Makes sense. I have to say, I’m feeling some empathy for this guy. Military life is difficult. He spent many of his prime video-game years serving his country only to return to an unforgiving economy. For that reason, he deserves some patience. (And maybe some space for Nintendo.) That said -- you want to move forward. You want a plan. He made promises that are easy and comforting to make during an unstable time. You’re calling him on those promises, and that’s fair. You need to explain to your boyfriend that when you talk about your “future plans,” you’re really talking about your present plans. You’re interested in the now and how it relates to later. Even in this bad economy he should be able to discuss his hopes for your partnership. If you’re giving him patience and the room to figure out his life, he owes you some commitment -- and consideration. My sage advice: Have a talk with him about what he wants now that he’s home. He may be just as frustrated about his unemployment. Or maybe he wants more time to play around now that he’s back to reality. Get some answers so you can make an informed decision about whether you’re on a journey together -- or going it alone. Readers? Thoughts? Is the video game stuff so bad? Is he off the hook because he did his duty? Share thoughts here. Submit a letter to the right. -- Meredith