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Dr. Lisa's Advice Column: Confusing Committments

Send Dr

Send Dr. Lisa, S.P. (Self-Proclaimed) your questions and dilemmas about your art, life, job, sex, you name it—and she will post responses to your questions and issues right here. Please send email to: hellodrlisa@gmail.com

Things picked up a bit for me and I got 2 decent letters from you people, which I’ve responded to here. I’m also in a great mood because I'm going to use a big gift certificate that I got 2 years ago, to go on a little trip this week. Hopefully, by the time you’re reading this, I will be whooping it up, creating some problems of my own.

Q. 1 He says he doesn't want to be exclusive

 I have been seeing this guy for the past six months, and I'm more than ready to commit and do the girlfriend thing. But a month ago, I attempted to have The Talk, pretty much expecting that he felt the same way, and instead he completely balked at the idea of being exclusive. He said that he wasn't sleeping with anybody else and that he hadn't been the entire time we've been seeing each other, but that he didn't want to label our relationship as exclusive because that would make him feel trapped. I want to call bullshit, but I'm trying to be patient, hoping that he comes around. If he's not actually sleeping with anyone else, it's kind of a moot point, isn't it? Or is it? Is his response really just a way of saying that he doesn't care enough about me to be in a committed relationship with me? Or am I just getting hung up on the label? Thanks! Alice

A. First of all-do not take this personally! IMHO, the way we typically feel is, if I were prettier, snarkier, a better bowler or played guitar, he (she) would like me. NOT TRUE-it’s not about you-it’s about him. You have to trust me when I tell you, he’s just as committed to you as he would be with anyone—I’ve seen this so many times before.

If it were me, I’d like to think I would call him on it. Being boyfriend/girlfriend and monogamy are two different things. I’d ask him if what he is looking for is an open relationship, since that is what he pretty much has with you. Get him to define what it is he wants—will it be alright if you sleep with other people too? Will you tell each other when you do? Getting him to detail what he has in mind will make him think more about what he’s really looking for. Be sincere and open-minded. DON’T GET MAD for chrissakes, or you’ll blow it!

It sounds like he’s into you but hung-up on monogamy. The most important point here is for you to respect yourself and not wait around too long for someone who doesn’t get what a super deal he has—with you all to himself.

 

Q.2 Second thoughts

I recently became engaged to my boyfriend of 4 years. We found a venue and put a deposit down for our wedding next summer. Then, I lost my job, which has caused me to go a little crazy with all the free time and I've become really nervous about getting married. I totally adore him but there are some things I'm concerned about. We've been fighting about how we spend our weekends.... I like things more mellow and low key like some drinks with friends then head home around 1am and go to yoga in the morning.... while he has been drinking a lot and staying out until late hours and being hung-over during the days. I've talked to him about how his partying is annoying and he tries to be considerate and ask me but it's clear that he feels like he's missing out on the fun. I guess I didn't mind his behavior when we were dating but now things are more serious. Dr. Lisa, do you have any advice on how I should deal with this situation? Should I try to get our deposit back? Meh

A.  Troubles a-brewing, I see some bright red flags, “I lost my job, which has caused me to go a little crazy with all the free time” and “he has been drinking a lot and staying out until late hours and being hung-over during the days…” It seems after you lost your job, the dynamics in your relationship changed which is not unusual. It’s possible that you’re not going crazy, just having to face the reality of your fiancé being a party boy, which you might have been able to avoid while you were working. Ask yourself—has he always been this way or has his behavior changed since you lost your job? Another possible scenario could be that your fiancé was planning on marrying someone with a job, and now that you’re in transition, he may be acting out with his partying. Or he may simply not be ready to settle down the way it sounds like you are. Also, bear in mind that losing a job can wreck havoc on one’s self-esteem and you may not have the strength in the relationship that you had previously, and he may be (hopefully unwittingly) taking advantage of your TEMPORARY stumble.

Remember, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with his wanting to go out a lot drinking, it’s just that it sounds like you don’t want to be married to that, and the mom in me says, “Good!” Get the deposit back. I’m not saying you have to call this relationship off, but the job-loss dust has to settle. Remember, all jobs are temporary, but marriage is (hopefully) forever.

See you next week Bushwick!

-Dr. Lisa

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