My fantasy life is ruining things

This letter writer references "Pootie Tang." That's a first.

Dear Meredith,

I am a mid-30s woman, former Boston resident. I've been dating, on and off, a very good man for about two years. Neither of us has ever been married, no children, and we both are interested in families. And although my clock is ticking, I have not turned insane yet.

"Billy" is a wonderful guy. Steadily employed, good work ethic, he cleans and cooks, he loves children, and he loves me. I have not always been good to him and have struggled with many of his perceived faults. We are very different in many ways. I have college education while he never finished school. I cut drugs and alcohol out of my life, and while he would like to do the same, he’s struggling with it, which has prevented us from living together. I love reading. He can't read two paragraphs without falling asleep, and he's like "Pootie Tang" (We never knew what he was saying, but we always knew what he meant.) I am not tied to my current area (my family is still in Massachusetts) whereas he seems hesitant to leave. Despite all this, our relationship works on multiple levels.

I have struggled with broken hearts from several men over the course of my life. The men I loved left me and it took years to get over them. But I thought they were everything, made my life interesting, fun, with purpose, and I still think of my last "love" as being my soul mate or something, even though we were only together for a short time. I still miss him and think "what if ..." despite how fruitless and crazy that is.

I can't seem to shake the whole fantasy man. Like if I just accept Billy, I am missing out on the person I am truly meant to be with. Believe me, I know Billy is a gift and I have always thought he was the perfect man, but for somebody else. Every day I try to appreciate the stability, the fact that this man puts up with my teenage-like expectation of what "love" is as he lays next to me and watches six hours of a “My So-Called Life” marathon. He has so many fine qualities.

I've dated. I've been alone. I have hobbies and friends. I've done it all (I feel like). Why can't I just be happy with what I have? Why don't I want to give up on my fantasy life? It's so beautiful and terribly painful. I've tried to let him go to find somebody who will love him better than me. Am I an extreme example of this generation of women who want the unattainable??

– Living in a Fantasy World, Out of Boston

1. Your recent ex isn't your soul mate, LIAFW. I don't believe in soul mates, but your ex ... he was just a magnetic guy who entered your life at a meaningful time. That's all. There is no "what if" with him.

2. Billy does sound wonderful, but not quite right for you. You compare him to Pootie, you mention drugs and alcohol, and you seem to imply that his main strength is that he's just ... there, watching you watch Jordan Catalano. That's not enough.

3. I don't believe that you (or an entire generation of women) want the unattainable. You want someone who sticks around and challenges you. That doesn't seem crazy to me.

4. We all fantasize. It's healthy and normal. Fantasies aren't preventing you from being in a good relationship.

5. You want someone who's not quite Pootie, not quite Jordan. That's a pretty fair request. I can't promise that he'll be right around the corner and ready to date you (and silence your ticking clock) as soon as you drop Billy, but I can promise that it's not crazy to keep looking for him. You call Billy the right guy for someone else. That's a pretty big statement -- one that's rooted in reality.

Readers? Should she stay with Billy? Are her fantasies a problem? Is she right about a generation of women wanting the unattainable? Is she being too hard on Billy? Did you know that Louis C.K. wrote "Pootie Tang"? What's going on here? Discuss.

– Meredith