I’ve been with my boyfriend for two-and-a-half years. We met at college, and when I moved back home to SF, he followed. I graduated and got a good job, and he took a break from school and hasn’t gone back. He’s always been a little lost, and I’ve always felt the need to guide him. His dad left when he was little, and his family is across the country. Basically, I am his life. Lately we clash about everything. He doesn’t like how I take things lightly in an effort to be more positive. He nitpicks constantly. Our good days are beyond perfect, but our bad days are getting more frequent. Has our relationship run its course, or do we just need time to fix it? I love him, but I don’t know what to do. I want someone who will go out and on vacations with me, and he wants to stay at home and seems to have no drive.
He Said: Your fights sound more like chatter that’s masking something neither of you wants to say out loud: You’ve got your life together, and he doesn’t. Encourage him to get back into school. Being in a structured environment around other students, many of whom have a plan, may inspire him to develop one himself. It also may help him make some friends of his own. The longer he delays getting back to school or otherwise moving his life forward, the wider the gulf between you will grow.
Also consider your part in this: Some of us are attracted to partners who can help us, and others are attracted to partners we can help. It’s a workable arrangement until one party decides to change. If you’ve been encouraging him to depend on you, don’t just toss the crutches out, but give him notice that he needs to find his own legs.
She Said: Your relationship cannot continue like this. Unless you’re a complete martyr, you can’t honestly feel romantic love for someone so childlike and dependent. He needs school, friends, and a job—stat. He also needs daily exercise and possibly (if he can’t manage these basics) therapy or medication. If he really depends on your guidance, then steadfastly urge him to create his own life, and if he doesn’t act within a short amount of time, put him on a plane back East. Otherwise, he’s going to drag you down with him. One person cannot be another person’s life. It just doesn’t work.
Heartbroken? Curious? Confused? Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org