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LOVE LETTERS

Some growing up to do

Her boyfriend lacks a social life, and she’s wondering if he’s the marrying type

By Meredith Goldstein
Globe Staff / July 23, 2011

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Q. My boyfriend and I have been together for a little over three years now. Overall, I know we have a great relationship. Even though we are happy, there is an issue that neither of us can really avoid: Joe does not come from a good family, and he surrounds himself with friends who are immature and unreliable, whereas I have always had a strong support system from both my family and friends.

Without getting in to too much of the details, his parents married and divorced at a young age, and (I feel) their immaturity caused a lot of issues with Joe and his siblings. Both parents are remarried now, and though they are much older, it seems that their lives continue to thrive on drama. As for Joe’s friends, they party just as much as they did when they were in college and aren’t very serious about their careers. I am not exactly sure why this is, but they also constantly leave Joe out of plans. And when they do happen to invite him, Joe reverts back to his college days, which leaves me annoyed and feeling like his babysitter.

The further our relationship moves along and we begin considering marriage and a family one day, the more these issues hang over my head. My fear for our future is that Joe will resent me for having my family and friends by my side at all times. I am also afraid he might consider that I helped push his friends away. I am not exactly sure how to phrase my question, but how can I enjoy the time I spend with my family and friends without feeling guilty? A lot of times when I go out without him, I feel bad for leaving him alone. But at the same time, I enjoy my “space.’’ I don’t want to ever lose him, but I don’t want to feel guilty anymore.

DOES MY BOYFRIEND NEED A BROMANCE?, Boston

A. Your job is to make Joe feel normal. Remind him that not everyone stays close to their college friends and that while some people find their best buddies when they’re young, other people meet their platonic soul mates in the workplace or when they start getting to know the parents of their kids’ pals.

Life is all about phases, and that’s something you should know, too. You have an amazing support system - right now - but eventually, you might go through a phase that requires you to be more isolated than Joe. He might get a new job and find a real clique, whereas some of your college friends might move out of town. You might have kids and find that it’s not as easy to hang out with your peers. Meanwhile, Joe, based on his experiences, might thrive under those circumstances.

So yes, encourage him to meet new people and maybe see if any of your friends’ boyfriends want to include him when they go out, but don’t make it weird. Tell Joe that he’ll have a great bromance someday, because he will. Explain that relationships go through stages, because they do.

Don’t feel guilty about leaving him at home. The more you put on a sad face before you walk out the door, the more he’ll feel left behind. Just show him that you’re exited to see him when you return. And occasionally include him if you’re going out in a big group. That’s all you can do right now.

MEREDITH

READERS RESPOND:

Just because you don’t like his friends and your family is perfect in every way doesn’t mean he’s jealous of your pristine social circle. Stop judging. Be nice. And if you don’t wanna be his babysitter? Then don’t. He’s a big boy - you don’t get to choose his friends or his family. But he does get to choose his girlfriend. And quite frankly? He might be able to do better. NATURALGINGER

I’d love to hear Joe’s side of this. Is he unhappy or are you just projecting how you would feel without your family and friends? As for why his friends often leave him out of their plans - perhaps it has something to do with the fact that when they do include him you insert yourself as his babysitter (your word not mine) and are obviously annoyed. MONTYY

This sounds to me like a case where the letter writer is moving beyond her boyfriend. It sounds like she is at least starting to want to settle and plan for the future - the boyfriend doesn’t seem to be in the same place. Often, this divide gets wider. MALDENLADY

I don’t really understand why you’re talking marriage with this guy. I don’t see any redeeming qualities. I dated someone immature and was talking marriage with him. It doesn’t work out. They have to grow the heck up first, and they’re not going to do it for you (sometimes they don’t do it at all!). My advice is to let Joe figure out his friend situation on his own and take a serious look at who he is. That’s him. He might grow up, but signs point to him not doing so. Look at who he is right now and ask yourself if that’s who you want to be in your life forever. Seriously. CONEARTH

Don’t feel guilty about seeing your friends and family without Joe. If he tries to make you feel guilty about it, I’d reconsider the relationship. If he isn’t - if this is all stuff you’re generating - I’d stop spinning lest you burst into flame. PMAC430

Rico is serious, Rico has known a lot of “Joes’’ over the years, and the truth is that they never change. They still go out and party and get way too tomatoed and you end up having to take care of him. They are irresponsible with many other things in their lives such as work, cleaning up after themselves, etc. Rico thinks that you need to take a step back and see if this is worth it and if you want to have the type of guy he is around for marriage and children. RICO

Regardless of how many friends he has/doesn’t have, how mature/not mature he is; I really think you need to check how you feel about him. I’m getting an undertone of you not liking and respecting your boyfriend for who he is, so you may want to evaluate that before you assume you want to marry him. BKLYNMOM

Edited and reprinted from www.boston.com/loveletters. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at mgoldstein@globe.com. She chats online Wednesday at 1 p.m.