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Military guy loves video games

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  April 28, 2009 10:53 AM

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Houston, we have a Nintendo problem.

Q: 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?


-- Bummed in Beantown

A: 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

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91 comments so far...
  1. Sorry, Meredith , I don't agree a bit. It's been two YEARS, not two weeks or months. He may indeed be struggling with issues from his military service, but immersing himself in Grand Theft Auto isn't going to resolve them. I agree with you that BIB needs to have a serious talk with him, but the option of more time to play doesn't work in my mind. He needs to see a therapist who specializes in the military to figure out what's going on - is he depressed? Does he have PTSD? But BIB is young. It's legit for her to want to have a life, a family (or not), a social world that she can assume has some importance to her partner. If he gets off the couch and to a therapist, there may be hope. If he's perfectly happy in tubeland, and she wants more, it sounds like she'll have to deliver some tough love.

    Posted by exiledmainer April 28, 09 11:10 AM
  1. I think 2 years of video-games is plenty of time to get it out of his system...it's not like he just got back from his tour of duty. And I think "Bummed" has been more than patient with him. Hard as it may be to do, it could be time to ask him to move out or move on with her. Good luck to you.

    Posted by irishlass April 28, 09 11:11 AM
  1. Rico says, first of all Meredith, thanks for lobbing him a soft one and relatively early. Rico will dispense his sage advice and then head to his fans at the local INDEPENDENTLY OWNED coffee spot. You didn't think this was Rico's only forum for fabulousness did you?

    Down to business. The video games are filling a void. Your boyfirned is stuck and paralyzed. Any excessive behavior should clue you into that in a heart beat. But what can you do? Rico knows you are frustrated but you can't add to your guy's stuckness. Offer to help him with his job search at a specific time 3 hours
    from now, let him do his gaming til then. Do this until the habit sticks and the gaming unsticks.

    About the promises. This is your issue. Remember he was missing you and fantacizing about your future life when he made those promises. Rico says let them go and start over, and let go first of all of the idea of buying a house with him having no job. Don't kick him out, live in the place you have together, that is what you do when you havae a real commitment.

    Rico hopes this helps. Take it one step at a time.

    Posted by Rico April 28, 09 11:14 AM
  1. I only needed to get as far as your quote "He is not someone I would've picked out for myself" to know what was up here. You are not happy, you have discovered that he is not right for you, possibly never was, but you are conflicted about what to do about it due to the present circumstances.

    Sorry, but Meredith is off target with a few things. My math indicates that he went off to active duty at 26 years old. That's old enough to have properly gone through the "video game" phase. At 29, one year of active duty under your belt or not, it's real world time.
    He's been home for two years and the taxpayers (i.e. unemployment benefits) and you have been combining to foot the bill for him that entire time. It's bad enough that he hasn't found a job in that time period (note: the economy has been bad for only the past 10 months, and even now, there are part-time jobs available), but for him to be lazying around your couch playing online games and watching TV and disrupting your social life, is inexcusable. You should not be held hostage or inconvenienced by his gaming habits after you return to YOUR HOME after working all day at YOUR JOB!

    Well, I will give you permission. I will validate your feelings. You are correct. Clearly, he's taking advantage of you. There is no future for you two until he gets his stuff straight. He's content to continue to be irresponsible and float along on your dime and you entirely justified in trying to in good conscience, get out of the mess without seeming harsh or insensitive to his military baggage.

    It's time for an honest talk with him and an ultimatum. You need to move forward with your life and your longer range plans. He has to do the same. Tell him very frankly that he needs to stop hiding in gaming and tv land, start putting an honest effort into finding employment, and also seeking counseling for any emotional / psychological issues that may have come about as a result of his military service. Set a date for that to take place, or he needs to move out as you two will be "taking a break".

    Best of luck. Continue to follow your instincts and do what you feel you need to do for yourself. It will also be the best for him as well. He will either rise above his current state of instability and improve your lives, or he will be on his own as a grown man, responsible for himself. Not an anchor of guilt weighing you down.

    p.s. We've all got baggage (military, childhood issues, family issues, abuse, trauma, etc.) that we have to rise above. A relationship needs to be based on each of you working through those things together on a daily basis, instead of letting it rot out everything that bonds you together. I understand his issues but he needs to step up for his sake and for your sake.

    Bottomline: You deserve better than you are getting.

    That's all the time we've got for today.

    - Hoss

    Posted by Hoss April 28, 09 11:29 AM
  1. Exiledmainer has it right. He is showing signs of depression. He needs to see his physician and get some help with that first before any of the other things can be addressed. BIB can schedule a time with him away from the joystick and tell him how concerned she is about what appears to be his inability to motivate himself. Get him to schedule that appointment and even suggest joint counseling if that's what it will take to get him in the room.

    Posted by Chocolate Chip April 28, 09 11:37 AM
  1. Bummed-
    You have outgrown your boyfriend. Not surprising for a relationship that brought you from 21 to 27. Not only does he want to stay in the military; he wants to kill people virtually online. It's a busman's holiday. He has to keep up the gaming or his skillz will erode until he can't make a single kill...what a noob! My advice is that you buy him the video game called “Flour Baby" where you develop caretaking and life skills. It's not as much fun as conquering a new planet or sawing a guy's head off, but there's nothing more special than seeing that 5 lb. bag of Gold Medal come to fruition. See ya later...bye.

    Posted by valentino April 28, 09 11:41 AM
  1. I was in this exact situation 10 years ago. I was in love with a man who was either chronically un-employed or under-employed. All he wanted to do was play games on his computer. After trying to change him and trying to get him to see the light I determined that I had two choices: (1) learn to accept him for who he is (2) move on. Because of my need for a stable and happy future I opted to move on. It was sad leaving a man I loved so much - but ultimately the right decision because I deserved to be happy.

    Posted by BethyBeth April 28, 09 11:41 AM
  1. As much as I feel badly for the boyfriend, I think she needs to move on. Just stop living with him. I moved out of living with my now husband prior to any thoughts of engagement. I thought he was taking me for granted, and he was. I think giving him time alone was good for him. He has been (and is) a wonderful husband now for 18 years. Sometimes tough love is still love.

    Posted by Anonymous April 28, 09 11:44 AM
  1. Dear Bummed in Beantown,
    Your boyfriend seems depressed - he is a war veteran and out of work. He seems just as stuck as you are. Have you tried having serious conversations about your concerns with his friends and/or family? I'm sure once he is able to get a good job, his mood will lighten and you will get him off your couch. Financial problems are the number one cause of break-ups so your annoyance with supporting him for this long is validated. Talk to him about his goals for the future. Maybe he would enjoy a career in law enforcement or something related to homeland security. If he has no desire to change his current circumstances, than asking him to move out is not unreasonable at all. You are TOO YOUNG to be so jaded about life. You have devoted enough energy into this relationship and it is not your responsibilty to fix him. Maybe taking a break will be the catalyst for him to get his life together.

    Posted by truelove4eva April 28, 09 11:45 AM
  1. I'm thinking that the video games are less the issue and probably his way to escape the fact that he may not be experiencing the future (or present) that he wanted once out of active duty himself.

    What I see as the big issue here is that the writer is not willing to entertain supporting the career that her boyfriend has said he wants. As a soldier, I've seen too many troops (mostly male) leave because their girlfriends or wives "made" them - and live miserably ever after.

    Bottom line, if one or the other doesn't support their significant other's big decisions - like how they'll earn their money - or even try to understand their experiences, it's not going to work., Sounds like the poster didn't want to hear about his experiences as a soldier either - just wanted him out. No matter what his career was or will be, with that kind of support, I can't blame him for burying himself in other pursuits. Has she even asked him if she's lived up to her end of what they talked about?

    Posted by phe April 28, 09 11:45 AM
  1. It might be harder to "unstick" the video game problem. It is a very real addiction (illness, disease). I would plan a mini-vacation in a rustic locale with no media access and observe him. Look for signs of withdrawal (edginess, personality changes). If this happens, maybe he will realize the extent of the problem and seek help. Because he will be suffering. I witnessed a friend lose his job, home and family over gaming addiction. It was the most frustrating thing ever. And this was before Xbox and all the cool new stuff. Just Nintendo. I never really got it until years later, watching my step-son's health, friendships and education fall apart over Xbox 360. Terrible. It is like telling an alcoholic to just stop drinking. Not easy. Good luck.

    Posted by citykitty617 April 28, 09 11:45 AM
  1. Video game addiction is a serious illness, and certainly one that gets worse rather than better on its own. I think Meredith is right about having a talk with him first, then maybe suggest counseling. I was in this position right out of college with a video game addicted boyfriend who lost all ambition to his online world. He may not realize just how unhappy you are with him, so he needs a serious wake up call before you walk out the door. Let him know what he is giving up by living in a virtual reality.

    Posted by brightonite April 28, 09 11:53 AM
  1. Here's a thought: You've told all of us and Meredith this, but have you talked to him about it? I didn't see that mentioned in your letter.

    Have a serious sit down with him and explain that you're ready to move on if he's not ready to grow up.

    One other thing: I'm not buying into Meredith's take-- " 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" I disagree completely. You know what I was doing during my prime video game years? Working. And you know what the military is? A job. A dangerous and tough one at that, but still, it's work and it's work that HE signed up for. There is no mandatory service in this contry.

    In conclusion, maybe you should give him an ultimatum. Sounds like you're ready to move on up or move on out.

    P.s. Meredith, I love you.

    Posted by FB Stalker April 28, 09 11:54 AM
  1. I remember a conversation with an ex-colleague whose brother had just returned from active duty in Iraq (he was in his early 20s) and my ex-colleague (and her parents) was having trouble dealing with, or even understanding her brother and his emotions/behavior, and her frustration/lack of comprehension with her brother was quite evident. She (and her parents) expected him to pick up from where he’d left off before he went to Iraq and continue living a normal life - go to college, finish his studies, be the loving brother/son etc. instead of the angry and confused person he'd become after serving. I get the same sense after reading your letter, and that we civilians have no idea what it's like to serve in a war and how it can affect/change soldiers’ minds and their behavior.

    While it's understandable that both of you had set some goals and you deserve plaudits for keeping things in perspective, but if I were you, I would stick it out with him for some time and be patient with him. You don't have to maintain the status quo and you do need to have a serious talk with him about how you're feeling and how the relationship is important to you. I would draw on the well of compassion and work *with* him to get him out of his video game addiction and back on his feet. That’s what people do in a relationship – have each other’s back. Obviously this is not something you'd planned for or expected, but life often throws a curve ball to test us. If he is unresponsive to you after you talk with him and takes no steps to change his situation for the better, then you would be justified in moving on. But if you love him – and it looks like you do – then it’s worth a shot.

    One more thing – we men often do not get subtle hints from women. So bring out the Straight Talk Express if you haven’t already.

    Posted by The Dude April 28, 09 11:55 AM
  1. Loser. Dump him.

    Folks who go straight into the military at 18 or 19 typically do so because they need more structure than life normally provides. He's back out, can't manage, and sits on his couch playing games rather than taking initiative. This isn't uncommon. You can either move on to someone who knows how to handle life, or chub out with him and be a passive participant in the world. Considering you've put up with it for two years already, I think you're off to a good start on that.

    Posted by Joey April 28, 09 11:58 AM
  1. Nearly 10% of the people in this country are currently unemployed and holding that against someone that you supposedly "love" shows a real lack of compassion and character on the OP part. When you are unemployed, it is a big blow to you ego and it sets you off on a downward spiral - but for most healthy people that spiral only lasts a month or two. Sounds like this guy is either using it to excuse his laziness, or has some real issues that he is hiding by just withdrawing from everything.

    If you love him and see a future there, you need to be proactive and addressing this. He needs to not only open up to you, but consider going to speak to a therapist. He also needs some clarity on his vocational plans. If he really does want to stay in the military - you need to know that soon, and he needs to get off his butt and go do that.

    A few exceptional men are driven in their 20s, but most are as lazy and apathetic as circumstances allow them to be. If you let him sit around and play games all day and night while supporting him, he will. Tell him to shape up or ship out...and see whether he stands up to the challenge or wimps out.

    Posted by Chris P April 28, 09 12:00 PM
  1. Rico-
    Is the coffee to announce your new motto: Gears, not Beers ?

    Posted by juan valdez April 28, 09 12:02 PM
  1. "He is not someone I would've picked out for myself"
    Who picked him out for you, BIB?

    Hoss rightly pointed out that this is a red flag, a bright flaming one. We've seen this before in this column, and never in a happily-ever-after way. Go back and pick apart just why you wouldn't have picked him out for yourself. I'm guessing it has to do with his military connections, or maybe there was immature behavior a la the gaming way back when.

    Posted by Sasha April 28, 09 12:06 PM
  1. I agree with the other posters- my first thought when reading this is that he is suffering from some form of depression, and that the excessive gaming is an escape . . please urge him to see a therapist, then decide if you still want to be with him.
    You sound unsatisfied (and rightly so), but I would hate to see you lose the relationship to a depression that may be treatable.

    Posted by cookiecake April 28, 09 12:06 PM
  1. And now folks (MY READERS) :) Here is Rico's thoughts:

    Rico thinks that Meredith is trying to be nice here. Rico's short answer is to kick him out and move on with your life. Easier to hurt badly now and be happy for the restof your life than to let this drag on any longer. 2 YEARS of gaming is 2 YEARS too much.

    Now for the longer answer:

    Rico is very sorry to hear that he has no job, no motivation etc...this is not going to stop and just go away when he finds a job, if he finds a job. He thinks the military is a career for him and that is great, let him follow his dream and step out of his way. You don't agree with it so find yourself a man with a different mindset. There are plenty of Lawyers, Doctors, Accountants, Store managers etc... that would be happy to find a nice single girl like yourself. Rico thinks you have been wasting way too much time on him and the longer it goes the more you will hate him for it and in turn hate yourself for allowing it to go on.

    You are your own boss and you need to make a decision. Some of the best decisions are the hardest ones to make. Leaving (kicking out a loved one) is possibly the hardest decision you will ever make so Rico doesn't take this lightly. On the other hand, he has made many promises and not followed through on any of them for a total of 6 years.

    Let Rico give you an example: If your "boyfriend" is lazy and playing games now and doesn't have motivation to get a job or possibly just return to full duty in the military imagine this: You get married to this "man" (Rico doesn't think the definition of a real man fits this guy but whatever), he takes off 5,000 miles for some war or whatever and you find yourself 3 months pregnant. 6-7 months later you have a baby or better yet twins and he is still off in a faraway land. You are now home alone (Or hopefully with family support) taking care of your baby(ies) while trying to earn a living and have a relationship with this "man". He then returns for a stay at home after some months away and guess what? "he needs time to get used to civilian life"

    Rico wants to know...Do you get it? Do you see what pattern has been set? He is not a man that is going to take care of you or a family. That is what you want then that is what you need to go out and get. Life is not something that you take granted for. You need to work for what you want.

    Rico is curious why you would stay in this so long with these issues? Rico thinks self esteem is a problem or maybe you just don't have the motiviation to lift yourself up and make a change.

    Rico wants you to go home tonight to your out of work lazy boyfriend and tell him tomorrow while he is not working he should start looking for his own place. Time for him to move out, which he will probably go home to his mommy since that is usually what happens with this type of "man"


    Rico is loving the weather...does it get any better than this? Get off the online video games and get outside for some fresh air and vitamin D.

    Love always,


    Posted by Rico April 28, 09 12:08 PM
  1. Time to have the talk.

    The serious talk.

    If he doesn't change. It's over.


    I don't care what Rico says. Its that simple.

    Posted by Barbera from Scituate Point April 28, 09 12:09 PM
  1. I agree with Meredith that you do still love your boyfriend and that it is very hard watching him slide down this slope. You're not doing him any favors by allowing it to happen. You want him back and you want the life you two had planned. That's not unreasonable.

    I kind of disagree with Meredith about the rest. I am concerned that he has a more serious problem as reflected in his obsessive gaming. It is not so much the amount of time he spends playing, but the fact that his gaming now intrudes into your real lives and that it plays such a part in his being stuck. I think some of this depends on his experience in the military - was be on active duty in a combat area? Could he be suffering from PTSD or clinical depression? After two years of watching him play video games, it's time to ask some hard questions about his psychological state. Also, the military provides a great deal of structure and for him to lose that structure (especially since he was in the military so young) might be truly paralyzing for him. This is not unusual for people coming out of the military. While it is reasonable to give him some time to get himself together, it has been a long time already and he doesn't seem to be moving in the right direction. It seems that he is not able to move forward on his own and may need some help.

    I think it's time to have that conversation. Let him know that you are worried about him, that his behavior is destroying your relationship, and suggest some planning (between the two of you), and perhaps some counseling. In fact, identify and investigate some good sources of help/counseling so you can present them as options if he seems amenable. I think you know that this will not get better on its own. You've done that and it's getting worse, not better. It's time to take compassionate, loving, but firm action to get him unstuck.

    Posted by Nancy G April 28, 09 12:10 PM
  1. Exiledmainer is right on. He sounds like he's depressed (undiagnosed) and you are not being a bad girlfriend. Continuing to cover for him while he wallows would make you a bad girlfriend but giving him a dose of reality is really the kindest thing you could do. Relationships only work when there is some balance of power and responsibility. Do you really want to spend your life being total alpha in this relationship, responsible for the home, all finances, and the children you have every right to expect? Take it from experience - you will resent the heck out of him and you will not be in as good a position to leave as you are now. Lastly, your thoughts of buying a home in this economy with an unemployed partner are unrealistic. You will not get a mortgage if he is a part of the equation so if you do buy a house, put it in your name ONLY. Again, this is the voice of experience.

    Posted by JBar April 28, 09 12:10 PM
  1. tell your boyfriend to pull a jacoby ellsbury and GO HOME!

    Posted by ohsnapwhatthell April 28, 09 12:11 PM
  1. I picked up on the same line Hoss did: "not someone I would've picked for myself" - this seemed like a red flag for me. I think Hoss is right on this one...you've changed so much in the course of this relationship, but you are still so young if you decide to get out of the relationship too! Good luck

    Posted by heartseek April 28, 09 12:11 PM
  1. I don't think that was the REAL rico!

    Posted by gertie April 28, 09 12:13 PM
  1. Your 27 he's 29. I say move out. Let him know your not exclusive anymore. He wants you back, it's going to take a career and a marriage proposal. Make sure the job is permanent though. In the mean time your shopping around for new groceries.
    To often people give too many chances to their significant others, then they wake up, and they're close to 40 and wonder why life was passing them by.

    Women do not move in with guys. If they love you enough they will marry you. If it's only a piece of paper then "SIGN IT"

    Posted by jojo April 28, 09 12:16 PM
  1. Citykitty is right. I was once addicted to video games and I have to say it is definitely a real addiction. Fortunately, it is not quite as detrimental to one's health as alcohol or drugs, but it can definitely have an impact on job performance (or, in this case, job searches), mental health, and relationships. Once I found a more healthy "addiction" (exercise/hiking with friends), I became a much happier person, and definitely strengthened my relationships with family and friends. It is possible to overcome video game addictions, perhaps by trying to substitute something healthier or more social. I wouldn't break up with him over this yet but try to help him through it. If he's unresponsive, then, yes, maybe an ultimatum is required.

    Two years is an awfully long time to wait for a marriage proposal, so it's probably a good idea to have a discussion about that sooner rather than later. Again, an ultimatum might give him the kick in the pants that he needs, but you should be prepared for him to say that he's changed his mind and would like to break up instead. Sorry.

    Posted by Lzzrdvla16 April 28, 09 12:16 PM
  1. This sounds like classic major clinical depression. Depression is very difficult to deal with in a relationship. The other person isn't there for himself first, or for you, second. Plus, even if he gets help, it may reoccur throughout his life, especially if there are ongoing triggers from intense experiences such as potentially horrifying scenarios experienced during military service.

    You love him and want to help, and it is good that you reached out. If it's been two years of constant inability to function, that's long enough. You do not need to gather any more evidence of how it is negatively affecting your life. You've put in way more time than most people who are not married would even consider. There is enough to know it is not healthy for you to remain in the relationship the way it is now.

    If he's willing to get help, and since he is not working, he can immediately participate in an inpatient or daily outpatient program to follow an integrated program of intensive therapy and medication (it is an organic condition).

    If he's not receptive to help, there is absolutely nothing you can do for him, and whatever you do to try to help won't make a difference. At this point, the focus needs to be on you and your decision to learn how to live with a depressed individual without losing your sense of self and joy in your life, or learn how to compassionately extricate yourself. This requires a strong support network including a therapist of your own to help you plan. If you break up with him, he may start telling you how much he needs you and may threaten suicide. That is too much for one person to handle. Take the time to become prepared for the scenario you want before embarking upon it.

    Posted by yupokay April 28, 09 12:23 PM
  1. He's depressed! If you really love him, and want to try to make it work, ask him get some professional help. Counseling, not drugs.

    Posted by Yip April 28, 09 12:28 PM
  1. It is very surprising to us to realize that some of the things we do in the name of "love" are actually called "enabling," isn't it?
    "Oh, life in the Military was tough, I'll give him a break," or "I have a job, I can pay the bills, he doesn't have to do that yet," or, or, or.
    You need to stop that. You. need. to. stop. that. Because sometimes, it is not about the other person, it is about ourselves and what we say to ourselves to convince ourselves that we "have" what we really do not have.

    This is not to say that you cannot have those things with this guy; you just don’t have them now. And what you want is okay to want. You have to be okay in letting him know what you want, and to insist that he discuss this. If he does not/cannot discuss this, you need to decide about YOU, not him. Women, we are so hesitant to move forward just for ourselves, we always need to have someone in that plan, even if…they aren’t in the plan.
    Don’t be afraid to kick him in the arse. Afterall, humans have a tendency to get away with what we can get away with. And, you are letting him get away with this. Two years of video-gaming? In your apartment? Hmm, who is letting that happen?

    Posted by Carolyn April 28, 09 12:28 PM
  1. Hey reindeergirl...let the people speak...it is a free country with free speech...check the constitution or did you get past 1st grade?

    fan of Rico and others that write here...including meredith :)

    Posted by fan of rico April 28, 09 12:31 PM
  1. "I know I love him, but I feel like I deserve so much better. "

    YES! Stick with that feeling and try to get some help for yourself!

    What everyone else is saying: your boyfriend seems depressed and he should get some help for that. He could possibly have PTSD. Also, what you said: if the gaming is interfering with other aspects of your lives, there is a good chance he is addicted. Gaming is a REAL addiction. Also, you should get some help. Consider going to Al-Anon (to help you cope with his gaming addiction) or getting your own therapist to help you see why you put up with this behavior. Do NOT marry him or buy a house together until you have some kind of resolution to this situation.

    Posted by get help! April 28, 09 12:34 PM
  1. Meredith, I think you missed the boat here. This guy sounds really stuck and depressed, and he's not getting anywhere towards getting out of it. He seems to be self-medicating with games, much as people use shopping or sex to try to forget about their unhappiness.

    As someone who counts a well-known MMORPG (massively multi-player online role playing game) as one of my hobbies, I tend to bristle at accusations of game "addiction". But when the amount of time you spend on the game starts impacting the rest of your life, as it clearly is (being late for or missing social events), you have a problem.

    Honestly, I don't think sitting down with this guy and asking him to consider the future NOW is going to help, not yet. When you are really stuck, having someone push you to snap out of it can seem impossible on the face of it. I think the first step is for the letter writer to sit down, tell him how unhappy she is, and ask him to attend couples therapy with her. He needs to confront the fact that his gaming is consuming his life, and confront whatever issues he's subconsciously using the gaming to avoid (war trauma perhaps? or even garden variety chemical depression?), and I think the letter writer is going to need a professional's assistence in helping him deal with it.

    Posted by etcetera5 April 28, 09 12:34 PM
  1. If the "The bottom line is I am getting sick and tired of it", I think you should leave him now and stop thinking about how you're going to do it. Its seems the more you think about it, the more excuses/ reasons you make as to why you should give him more chances/or continue what you have with him with hopes of changing the situation. I just really think that you need a break and think about yourself for the time being. I know its hard to just break things after all the time that you have spent together. But would you be satisfied with dragging the situation and then later on think "Damn, I really should have done this sooner and not waste time".

    Posted by sugarbunni April 28, 09 12:39 PM
  1. I think two years is long enough to be playing video games like a little kid. Yes, being in the military is different from just being in any other long distance relationship. But if he has an addiction to games, he hasn't found a job in two years, he's thinking about a military career (which Bummed in Beantown has already made clear to him and us that she's not okay with), and he's not making good on any promises he's made, relationship-wise, I think it's time to get out. I think that she's staying only because she's so used to the relationship, and she's put enough effort into it that it would be a huge life change for her if they split. I think that's reason enough to seriously consider the decision, but not enough to prevent a split.

    Posted by sabend April 28, 09 12:42 PM
  1. Drop this guy like a bad habit !! Video games all day, no job, and not looking for one. This "man child" needs to grow up! Take a good look around and if you don't like the life your living now with this guy, DON'T MARRY HIM.......it'll only get worse!
    Your young, go find someone else who can take care of you and not the other way around. Good Luck!

    Posted by Pam April 28, 09 12:44 PM
  1. What he is doing is normal for someone who was in combat, is depressed and is probably suffering from PTSD. You need to bring him into the JP VA (150 South Huntington Avenue Jamaica Plain, MA 02130 Phone: 617-232-9500) for an assessment as a returning combat vet. There are several programs, therapists, groups, and financial benfits available to help these guys. Be thankful that he's playing video games and not drinking or doing drugs. Explain to him that if he wont go with you to the VA or for any other treatment that you will need to consider moving on without him.

    Posted by Rico's supervisor April 28, 09 12:48 PM
  1. I agree with Hoss and Valentino on this one. You've outgrown him and you are ready to move on towards your goals, with him or without him. You have given him plenty of time and patience and he still hasn't stepped up to the plate. Give him the heave-ho.
    When my ex lost his third job and got his 3rd DUI, I instituted the 3 strikes law and kicked him to the curb. Sure I loved him, but I didn't love him THAT much.
    Sister, look out for yourself. You have a lot of life ahead of you.

    Posted by exvermonter April 28, 09 12:50 PM
  1. As a wife of an National Guard Officer, you should reconsider your dislike towards the Army. There are some good paying full time national guard jobs available right now (probably depends on current pay grade and MOS). These are full time local jobs, so the typical moving around of military life should be less of a concern. It would be a good way to get him off the couch and give him purpose again. If he doesn't show up, he gets thrown in the Brigg and he is held accountable. Maybe right now he needs the stability of an Army job and doesn't think he is worthy of you in his current state. Also, there are plenty of free counciling services available to veterans if you do think he is depressed or is struggling with addiction. He can always call the Boston Vet Center for counseling at 617-424-0665.

    Posted by FRG4MA-NG April 28, 09 12:52 PM
  1. Hi BIB,
    From reading your letter, my suggestion is to stick it out for a while and try to support him. That doesn't necessarily mean continue to allow him to do whatever he wants, but it might mean trying new things to help him change his life.

    Some things I picked up on:
    Sounds to me like he's depressed and using video games as an outlet to the bleakness of real life. On one hand, he can't find a real job that's fulfilling or pays well. On the other, you are discouraging him from continuing his career in the military. He might feel trapped by these two extremes and is therefore trying to avoid making a tough decision, such as re-enlisting despite your wishes. He may not want to lose you, on the one hand, but isn't able to find any success on the other. How to solve this? Support his decision to re-up, or, even better, try to help him out as much as possible in finding a new job. Use your network to find something for him, even if it's simple or part-time. Take his resume to friends for review, sit down with him to review it yourself, or send him articles on how to make himself a more desirable candidate. Set up specific times to do resume work, search on Monster, do dinner together, etc. The job market is TOUGH right now, so don't expect immediate results, but maybe you can push him just enough. Helping him form a job-like schedule is the first step to pushing him to be more productive. When I was laid off, I found it very difficult to get anything done- you can only search Monster for so long, until everything is replied to, so you try and find other things to do, like video games.

    The other part of the equation is the inadequacy he might feel right now. Sure, he wanted to marry you, and buy a house, and etc., but without that job, how can he afford either? His masculinity might also be threatened by you...you're successful, he's not, and in the traditional sense of things, he might feel that this isn't right, that he needs to be the breadwinner. Again, this is going to add to the depression and avoidance with dealing with the issues at hand. On top of that, he might realize that he's not currently able to provide you what you want...a house, ring, etc., and he may be getting the feeling that he's not good enough for you, prompting him to not want to try.

    So, my advice is to try and push him in the right direction. This is going to take time and effort on both your parts. Encourage him to set up a rigid schedule so he gets time to play, but has to be productive for certain hours of the day. He'll be less likely to waste all his time. Don't offer to pay for things, but do it anyways, if you have to. Get him professional help if you feel he really needs it (he has to be willing, too). Don't give up on him without trying a few new strategies.

    If nothing works, it might just be time to give up the ghost. It might be better for the both of you if the relationship ends. You can go about your business, and he can re-enter the military and do what he needs to. I really hope you both can work it out. It'll take time and patience, but if it's worth it, it'll work.

    Posted by sandwich April 28, 09 12:56 PM
  1. Lets be a little realistic, if an average joe is given the choice of playing video games or looking for a house what do you think he's going to pick? Have she ever tried to play the games WITH him? They're online games so I'm assuming they're multiplayer... my fiance and I were in a long distance relationship for 3 years and we played online games as something we could both do together.

    Another point - what guy honestly wants to spend hours a day talking on the phone? Don't take it personal, we just don't like to talk on the phone. Send us an email, txt, whatever but the idea of being tied to the phone and not being able to do something else just sucks.

    Talk to him about it, ask him to be honest and I have a feeling what you think he is may be very different than what he actually is. No disrespect intended here, just keeping it real.

    Posted by Realist April 28, 09 12:59 PM
  1. Move on BIB. He may be using his military background as an excuse, but don't fall for it. He's had enough time back to get it together and you need to get your life back. You deserve more.

    Posted by WildMan April 28, 09 01:00 PM
  1. Do not marry him. He needs to heal first. Coming back from being deployed is going to be tough for everyone whose life he has touched. I'm sure he has many demons that he cannot tell you or anyone about (other than those who have had the same war experience). You're putting too much pressure on him, and he's unstable at this time. He's probably trying to just get through one day at a time. I'd say to keep dating him, but you need to find your own apartment. You both are going to need your space. Do not make any decisions about your future until he can hold a job and be a part of civilian life. Otherwise, you'll have many regrets. I hope he's got family to fall back upon. Good luck; I'll be thinking of you.

    Posted by Rider3 April 28, 09 01:06 PM
  1. Anything that a person does to excess is bad, whether it playing video games or reading Boston Globe blogs. His statement about staying in the Military is not based on any real desired to make the Military his career.

    A person can have a fulfilling career in the Military but like any career, a career the Military would require hard work. The boyfriend says Military because it represents a place where he thinks he will not have to make any decisions. Also, the Military makes demands on the spouses of service men and women. Bummed in Beantown (BIB) has already said she did NOT want to be a Military wife.

    The boyfriend is stuck. He needs professional help and intervention. Unless he gets it and soon, BIB and he should not be sharing living quarters. I agree with poster 8 ~ that tough love is still love. If the risk of no longer sharing quarters with Bummed in Beantown does not dislodge him from the couch, then BIB should cut her losses whist she is still young enough to recover from them.

    Posted by Lain the blunt April 28, 09 01:11 PM
  1. First- to all those who keep saying this guy isn't a man, you go fight for your country and then you'll be free to judge. He put his life on the line, he's a veteran, he's a hero, he is more of a man than you are.

    Second- BIB needs to be upfront, and tell him what she told Meredith. Tell him you're not happy with the way things are, and if they don't change, you want out. You've been holding you tongue for too long and now he has no idea how much you resent him. That resentment is your own fault for not telling him how you feel. You haven't been honest with him.

    Posted by Noel April 28, 09 01:26 PM
  1. Did you ever stop for a minute and think that maybe, just maybe, your boyfriend may have seen some really sick stuff "over there" on active duty and he's showing all the signs of depression?

    I'd really, really suggest that if you want to stick with him you find him some help rather than whining about "you, you, you" all the time.

    Posted by K April 28, 09 01:32 PM
  1. #46 - Absolutely. This man is depressed.

    I was with a video game addict, a man who had solid job skills and a great personality. Someone who slugs around all day is not lazy, he is suffering. Someone, the writer has to convince her BF to get a med/talk therapy combination. I wish him well.

    And - the last thing depressives need is to be pushed - or whining letters in an advice clumn. Nor can I believe the lack of sympathy some have here.

    Posted by reindeergirl April 28, 09 01:42 PM
  1. Drop that zero and get with the hero.. yo

    Posted by Vanilla Ice April 28, 09 01:42 PM
  1. Quick note....

    Saying he is not a "man" is referring to him not doing what a real man does in a relationship with a woman he supposedly loves and wants to marry. Nowhere does it reference him being in the military is not manly.

    I for one have met a lot of military personnel that are actually women...how do you explain to me that because they are fighting for our country they are men? The gender issue was in reference to his duty at home, not at war.

    This pathetic loser is what our society needs less of. His attitude is he fought for the country for 3 years so now he can lounge and play video games while his wife goes to earn a living? He reminds me of the fat person or the heavy smoker that has trouble breathing and getting around so they get a handicapped plate and a governement check to support them. He needs a rude awakening...and she shoudl give it to him now!

    We taxpayers may not go to war but it is our support that makes it possible.

    My father once told me that just because you are not religious by going to church/temple it does not make you not religious. You contribute in any way you can or feel you need to. A temple or church needs congregants to pay for it to exist. So if I go once a year but give $50,000 and the next guy goes 5 days a week but gives nothing does that make him more religous than me?

    This guy is a loser plain and simple and she is an enabler to let it go so long.

    Thanks for reading

    Posted by Me, a fan of the blog April 28, 09 02:01 PM
  1. I grew up with PTSD--my father. It was called combat fatigue, or shell shock, back then.

    Your boyfriend needs professional help ASAP. Help him get it because you love him at least that much.

    Then make the bigger, long-term choices. I don't think you will stick it out with him, but try to be there now.

    Good luck.

    Posted by GC April 28, 09 02:07 PM
  1. He is SO VERY OBVIOUSLY depressed.

    Of course he can't make a committment to you until he fixes that. If you don't address that problem and you stay with him you are going to become depressed yourself.

    But it can be fixed.

    Posted by Sarah April 28, 09 02:11 PM
  1. Bummed, sorry to say it but your boyfriend has outgrown you. Why do you think he plays on-line video games, let me guess world of warcraft. He is bored with you and while looking for a good job and a better girlfriend he is living off you.
    Sorry to say it, but you sound like a suck up b1tch and he deserves better,

    Posted by Thanos73 April 28, 09 02:18 PM
  1. Dump this guy. I have great respect for his service to our country but if he is going to sit around and waste the rest of his twenties playing video games it doesn't mean you have to waste yours with him. I think girls stick with losers because they are afraid they'll never meet anyone else and end up alone. I see too many great girls hooked up with losers because they don't have the guts to get out.

    Posted by Anonymous April 28, 09 02:39 PM
  1. Civilians have no say in how long it *should* take someone to recover from PTSD. The folks who judge him on "2 years" have NO idea what he may have seen or lived through - give him a break. I've seen recovery from some military men... but it took 4 plus years... hard years where the whole family questions if recovery was even possible... Have him talk with a profession if he is willing - he needs to get out of his funk and live his life.

    Posted by MM April 28, 09 02:41 PM
  1. Meredith,

    I do not have a video game addiction!! does that help me get closer to you?

    Posted by Josh April 28, 09 02:53 PM
  1. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
    He sounds like he's lost any will to do anything in life, like life isn't worth living.

    He sounds like he's going through the motions, but not much gives him joy. If you really love him, get him help. Video games are a great way to escape a reality that has nothing for you. They are also fun, but they can be abused to provide an escape from the reality, and I think that's what is going on here.

    But in all honesty, it's up to you whether you want to stick by his side and help him with his emotional and psychological problems or if you want to just leave him for something simpler. A life with this guy won't be easy, that's for sure.

    Posted by Mikey "Insane" Monkeypants April 28, 09 02:56 PM
  1. Stop making the guy out to be a victim. As Hoss said, everyone has some sort of trauma to deal with. As a civilian, I will not claim to walk in the guys shoes and analyze his PTSD, but I will say that BIB clearly deserves better than she's been getting for the last 2 years.

    PTSD or no PTSD, he's a grown man who needs to do something to right his ship. No one can do it for him. The fact that he's gaming for many hours a day and night virtually removes any sympathy that I have for him.

    Because he was in active duty for one year, she should continue to give him a break? What's the statue of limitations? 2 years? 4 years? He moved in with her. He's collecting unemployment. She's working, paying most of the bills, and to top it off, he's fouling up her social life because he can't leave a virtual world?

    Frankly, it sounds like she's been more than patient and understanding with him. Clearly, she wrote in because other people are dropping a guilt burden on her, much like I've seen from many of these comments. She deserves a better life. It's time for her to tell him that if that is possible with him in it, great. If not, then she's moving on and he's moving out.

    It's that simple.

    Posted by Bob Dwyer April 28, 09 03:02 PM
  1. Flavor of the month and then onto the next one.

    Always trying to keep up with the Jones'...


    Posted by Anonymous April 28, 09 03:08 PM
  1. First of all, regarding the "promises" that were made when he was away during active duty- they may have been his way of coping through a hard time- you need to imagine what his life was like during active duty. I don't know where he was stationed, but I would assume it was probably the Middle East... so think of your boyfriend's life there: probably hanging around with 90% plus males, probably not too many luxuries of life in America, and he probably experienced some really scary moments. So here you were- his escape. His connection to the life back home that he missed, a connection with a woman he loves, and I'm sure every chance he got he was thinking about relaxing on the front porch of your house, holding your hand, watching your future kids play in the yard. And he was probably a bit anxious that while he was away you would find another prince charming to sweep you off your feet, and he'd be left coming home to no one. So he made all these promises to try his best to secure a future with you. He may not have done it intentionally, and I'm not saying that he didn't, or doesn't, truly love you. I just think that in terms of those promises, you need to understand that they were made during a time of enormous stress for him, so I would not look at those as promises for your present or future, at least for the time being, because they may have only been something he did and said to help himself get through that hard time. And maybe he’s realized that now that he’s home, so you should ask him. He may love you dearly and want to be your boyfriend, but maybe he isn’t ready to marry you. Maybe he doesn’t know. HE needs to figure that out. And I think he should meet with a therapist to make sure he’s ok- not depressed, suffering from PTSD, etc.

    Assuming he’s not suffering from any mental or emotional issues related to his deployment, because that advice is way out of my league--- Now that he’s come home, he has a lot to figure out- job, your relationship, which video game to buy next, etc. All in all, I just think he doesn’t know what he wants to do for the rest of his life, and he’s probably scared to take the next step. So he escapes to the one place where no one is asking him “Get a job yet?” “What are you going to do with your life?” “Want to go look at houses this weekend?” Video games. They are his release.

    I think the only thing you can do to be clear with him about your concerns and to make sure that your relationship can continue without you being resentful is to give him boundaries and a timeline. “You have X amount of time to figure out W, Y, and Z.” I don’t think you should tell him he has 3 days to get a job or else you’re breaking up with him, but you do need to figure out what timeline you are comfortable with: what gives him enough time to get a job/figure things out without giving him time to waste playing video games all day. I think you could tell him that he needs to figure out what he wants to do with his life, whether or not (in his view) that includes you or not, and tell him that if you do not see some SERIOUS progress in getting a job within a “month”, or whatever time you feel is appropriate, then you will have to break up until he figures things out for himself. And then you need to think about these issues from your own point of view, and tell him your thoughts. If you do not want to be an Army wife, and there’s nothing wrong with that, then you need to tell him point blank how you feel about it. Not in a threatening way, but I think you could give him your plans for your own future, personally and professionally, ask him to do the same, and if you two are on the same page then great, but if not then you need to be honest with each other and cut your ties now before either one gets resentful. Because it sounds like you have centered and based your life around these “plans and promises” that the two of you made while he was deployed, but he hasn’t. So tell him that you’ve lived your life for the past few years in anticipation of these promises coming to fruition, and that you’d like to know if that is still in the cards or not, because if not, then you need to move on with your life.


    Posted by Pura Vida April 28, 09 03:16 PM
  1. i know a couple vets that are having a very difficult time finding a job after they leave the military. A good friend of mine was very close to re-upping in the service b/c his prospects of a stable job that could provide for him and his fiancee were very slim. Unemployment is very hard to face, but it sounds like he does have more issues that need to be dealt with, one of them is his constant escape from reality in his computer games.

    Posted by mike April 28, 09 03:25 PM
  1. Besides the fact that the boyfriend is depressed and in serious need of counseling, the big issue here is that you can't change people. As they say, marriage doesn't fix your problems, it amplifies them. I imagine buying a house would produce similar results. Even if he gets counseling, he may be in for a lifetime of depression. You have to step back and ask yourself, "If he's like this forever, am I okay with that?" If you aren't up for that, that's okay. But there are people who are, and he deserves the chance to settle down with someone who is prepared to deal with his illness. I know you love him. It's hard to leave someone you love. But it's worse to languish in an unfulfilling relationship because you're worried about hurting him, or scared about what may lay ahead for you.

    Posted by Beth April 28, 09 03:26 PM
  1. If he is playing "Call Of Duty" online (which he most likely is), maybe he misses the team aspect of what being in the military is like.

    If he is playing Super Mario Sunshine......then he needs more help then we can offer.

    BTW, video games are not evil people. Please stop villifying them.

    Posted by Mike Macooby April 28, 09 03:29 PM
  1. Rico is back, fully caffeinated. He has a question for BIB. Why isn't your boyfirend taking advantage of the education benefits from the military? He can't find a job, maybe he didn't get trained for anything in the Service, he should look into that.

    You and Boyfriend need to be on equal footing for jobs, social life, household responsibilities and much more. Rico pulls his weight in marriage and then some.
    Ask your boyfirend to do the same before you get in any deeper with him.

    Now go take advantage of this last bit of summer with the rest of my loyal readers.

    Love as always,

    Posted by Rico April 28, 09 03:43 PM
  1. Me, a fan of the blog-
    By "he's a man" I meant that he's an adult deserving of your respect, which you clearly have none of. I have quite a few family members who are veterans, and they're not all males, but they all deserve respect for being veterans. I wouldn't call any of their maturity into question, you do so because it makes you feel better about yourself- that's sad. He went to WAR, you call people names in the comments section where you're safe behind your computer. I have more respect fro thim than I do for you.
    I'm not excusing his behavior, but I am willing to bet that BIB can do more in communicating with him about it's a problem. As others posters have mentioned, he's most likely depressed and might even have PTSD. If that's the case, chalking his behavior up to him being "a pathetic loser" is dangerous. He needs help, an intervention, not ridicule.

    Posted by Noel April 28, 09 03:47 PM
  1. BIB, the only piece of advice you really must take is at #37, the person with the contact information for the VA. They will probably be able to help with the possible depression/PTSD as well as the gaming, and they can explain any other benefits he might have through the military. That's the one concrete step you can take to help your boyfriend get back HIS life, and in the process perhaps your shared life. Even if that last bit doesn't happen, you will have done him a great service.

    Posted by Fresi April 28, 09 03:48 PM
  1. Love is not the only reason it is sometimes difficult to end a relationship. There's guilt, sense of responsibility, fear of getting back out there, etc etc.

    None of which will sustain a marriage. Trust me.

    You need to move out. Talk to him first, suggest therapy, schedule an appointment for him if you must. But you can't fix him; he has to do the work.

    Move out and take some time apart. You'll know in a month if you should marry himm (and have kids who will suffer in a divorce)>.

    Do(I guess not).

    Posted by lisalisa April 28, 09 04:13 PM
  1. I really don't think gaming is a "serious illness". It's an addiction, a terrible habit, a way to escape reality, but it's not an illness. I am sure my friend with a brain tumor would trade his serious illness for a gaming addiction any old day.

    You can't change people. You don't even sound like you're in love him. Reread your letter and ask yourself what advice you'd give to a woman who wrote such things as "I'm getting sick and tired" and "I know it's not normal to be so resigned to life so young."

    PS. Sometimes I wish comments could be limited to 25 lines or less...

    Posted by iLover April 28, 09 04:17 PM
  1. 'Civilians have no say in how long it *should* take someone to recover from PTSD' Really now!! I am a civilian WITH PTSD. People who go around spouting ignorant statements like that negate everything they say after that. PTSD is not owned by the VA you know. Lots of non-miltary people get it as well.
    BTW., I have had this since I was about 12. I am now 36. I work full time, am married and have two children. So PTSD is not an excuse for not being a productive member of our society.

    Posted by bellyb April 28, 09 04:29 PM
  1. Let me tell ya from personal experience. My brother-in-law did three tours in Iraq: the first one, in the Marines, he got badly injured. He joined the Army and did two more. My BIL is dealing with heavy post-traumatic stress disorder. The military doesn't do such a hot job transitioning soldiers into civilians. He's been hardwired to be an instrument of destruction: He goes hunting every day (he lives out West) because he doesn't know how to ratchet it down and enjoy the peace and quiet. That's probably why Bummed's BF is a gaming addict. He doesn't have anyplace to channel the aggression the military instilled in him. Get some help for him instead of acting like he owes you to be the ideal fiancee. It's going to take awhile.

    Posted by Madra April 28, 09 04:34 PM
  1. I thought the military was supposed to make you into a great person that could take that training and get a great civilian job that you would be superior at....so why can't he get a job after 2 years?? Hmmm.... false advertising?? But really, video game addict???? Please.. Tell him to get off the couch or DUMP THE BUM............end of story!!! Just sorry you wasted 6 precious years of your life on the creep....

    Posted by Me_Too April 28, 09 04:36 PM
  1. Disappointing amount of glib mean-spirited comments today...

    I'm a middle-aged Desert Storm vet who enlisted 20+ years ago not because I needed more structure than life can normally provide (truly a crap comment above) but because I didn't know what I wanted to do. After my enlistment I had a tough time adjusting to civilian life and it's fair to say I had some minor depression and motivation problems. I blew my discharge money gambling and was underemployed for a few years. Encouraging your boyfriend to call the VA is a good call, but don't pin your hopes on them providing a cure-all.

    Fast forward 20 years. I'm a successful professional with a family. But ultimately I had to pull myself up, figure some things out, grow up a bit, make a plan for myself. Nobody could do that for me. I would be concerned of you falling into the co-dependent trap. If you really love this guy, be 100% straight with him. Whether or not you end up together shouldn't be your main concern. Put your friendship and love first. Hold up a mirror to help him look at himself, tell him you are concerned about the video game playing and tell him you just can't live like this anymore.

    Posted by DesertStormVet April 28, 09 04:36 PM
  1. Rico just wants to say thank you for the support and the faux responses out here. That last one about the Caffeinated Rico was great, Rico almost thought he actually wrote it...not really.

    As for his advice of getting an education, Rico appreciates the help on that one. Rico still stands by his first post saying that she should get home and give him the "pink slip" to move on.

    Look, Rico is not against the military or against people that join it. Rico thinks there is a place in this world for each and every person. Each of us just needs to find his or her place. His place might be the military so let him go to it. Rico doesn't want to sound negative about people in the military, however it takes a certian type of person to go into the military. Those people that choose military over a civilian existence tend to be of a different breed. We in the civilian sector most likely don;t understand this. That being said, this girl met the guy when they were younger and sometimes people just grow apart over time, each has different goals in life and even those tend to change over time.

    It sounds to Rico like she doesn't want to be his babysitter/therapist/housekeeper/support system (Fill in the blank____) for any longer and is looking for Rico and his friends to validate her thoughts.

    Consider your thoughts validated...time to cut the cord and move the boyfriend out so you can live the life you want and he can live the life he wants. Rico doesn't own a video game, Rico doesn't even watch much TV lately. Rico thinks more people need to get outside and be active, go see things, live life. Life is not playing on a computer, life is more than that.

    Rico feels that this guy needs a good kick in the butt and this girl giving him his walking papers might be just what he needs.

    Rico is done for the day but will check back later/tomorrow and see how things are going. Rico is always curious to hear how these questioners work out after they get the advice/comments. Please check back and tell us. Maybe Meredith could post updates?

    Thanks Meredith, Rico loves you too...

    Love always,


    Green is the new black...Gears not Gas (That means bikes not cars for those of you who don't get it)

    Posted by Rico April 28, 09 04:42 PM
  1. No where in BIB's letter does she say that her boyfriend was sent to war. It sounds to me like he was in the National Guard and got called up for active duty, state side or perhaps overseas, but not in a war zone. I think if he was sent to war she would have specified. That being said, I am dismissing PTSD or depression caused by the military.

    It sounds to me like BIB had a real eye opening moment after two years of dealing with his unemployment , broken promises and gaming. A girl can only take so much. She was very young when she entered the relationship and now she has grown and has a better understanding of what it is she wants and is looking for. Unfortunately, her boyfriend has not grown with her. It's sad, but it's life.

    I think she should talk to him, let him know how she feels and then ask him to move out. Life is way too short to (and BIB too young) to be caught up in the game of trying to change someone or badgering a 20 something year old man to get a job! Also, it's clear that they are on different paths in life, he wants to be in the military full time, she does not.

    Good Luck!

    Posted by What's the 411? April 28, 09 04:43 PM
  1. It seems people have made lots of assumptions regarding the boyfriend's "tour of duty" - I don't recall BIB having offered that he'd returned from actual combat...I think that it is something of a leap to suggest that he's suffering from PTSD. Anyway, whatever his issue is ( he sounds like a loser) , she'd do well to leave him and cut her losses at this point. Any man that will not take care of himself can not be counted on to care for his partner - much less his family.

    Posted by florence April 28, 09 04:44 PM
  1. I have to say something here. I am not against the military at all, it is a necessity and needs to be staffed. It takes a certain type of person to join up. Usually those are people that are already "ramped up" and just can't "rachet it down". poster 69 said the guy did 3 tours, 1 with Marines and got injured but still did 2 more in the army??? Seriously, this proves my point 100% It takes a certain type. As for PTSD, yes this is true to a point, however since it takes a certain type of person to get started in the military maybe it is something of a disorder before they joined and not just PTSD? We all put labels on things to make them into an illness...be realistic and know this. It is a specific persons human nature why they are the way they are. Stop making excuses. I have seen layoffs at jobs and been hit by a car as a pedestrian but I am not home sulking and playing a video game giving up on life.

    That's all I got for now

    Posted by Jimbo April 28, 09 05:16 PM
  1. He's a man. He doesn't want to be married. Marriage to men is like salt to a slug, we know it is the end of our days once we say "I do". You were a fool for thinking all would be rosy with this guy, but you're a women. Women think emotionally whereas men think logically. He's not going to marry you. He doesn't want to be tied down for the rest of his life. You say he "set you up to expect..." things but did he ever promise you these things. If he did then shame on him. If not... shame on you

    Posted by sj April 28, 09 07:06 PM
  1. There are two big problems I see. The first is with the video game obsession. As others have said, video gaming can be an addiction to the point where all other life and socialization is shut out. I don't think one needs to go on a "withdrawal vacation" as a test. I think he may need professional help with this one. The second issue is that I think Bummed in Beantown is stuck in the past. It seems that she loves him for what he was at one time. Unfortunately, he has become a different person. Although military duty may change someone, there comes a point where all the patience in the world isn't going to help. Bummed needs to move on and suggest that her boyfreind get some sort of help getting his life together because he's never going to get anywhere if he's addicted to gaming.

    Posted by Aviatrix April 28, 09 11:26 PM
  1. Meredith-
    Can we devote a day to chime in on the John Henry/Linda Pizzuti romance? Or is the Red Sox/ NY Times/ Globe affiliation too close to home?

    Posted by js April 29, 09 09:14 AM
  1. Wow, bitter much sj? We're talking about BIB here, leave your own issues out of this forum.

    Posted by brightonite April 29, 09 10:35 AM
  1. Ok I really think you need to move on. It sounds like he is still supporting himself somewhat (or are you paying all the bills?). If you ARE paying to support him you need to end this right now. I love video games and I'm a girl, but I support myself, get to events, and garden/work out daily. There is a balance.
    Without going too crazy into living together before marriage pros and cons, I think you need to kick him out REGARDLESS of whether you end the relationship. Read Dr. Laura "10 Stupid Things Women Do". One of those things is living together before marriage. There is no motivation for this guy to WANT to get married as everything is already there now. You have goals and he does not. He needs to get his act together. I think you should tell him to move out and do that. You don't have to break up, but insist upon that. See if he can. Tell him your goals (house, marriage). If he's not in line, although painful, you need to find someone who is.

    Posted by Joc April 29, 09 01:07 PM
  1. Wow -- I can't believe all of the comments to my letter! Thanks so much folks for all your input, this has been really, really helpful.

    A few clarifications: First, I hear a lot of you being outraged that I am supporting him -- let me tell you that he pays his share of the rent and half of our utilities. That was where my concern for his spending of his savings comes in. He is basically maintaining the same lifestyle but draining his savings.

    Second, he has his college degree and joined the military only after he had graduated -- so he was not SO young when he joined. It was post 9/11 and he felt compelled to do so. I completely respect and admire him for this, but I have been clear for YEARS that if being a "lifer" means moving from place to place or having him gone for months or even years at a time, I don't see that for myself longterm. While he was away he told me that he agrees and doesn't want to stay in at all, now he is turning back on that. I think he is doing so because it's "easy" (I don't mean the actual service, but that they will take him and he doesn't have to start a new career).

    Third -- I have discussed my concerns with him, in plain English, many times over the last two years. I have even told him my thoughts have separating for a little while until he can get on his feet. Here's a quick timeline of events when I broach the subject: He always gets very upset and defensive, as if I am being completely unreasonable. He always tells me how much he loves me and that he wants all the same things I want and that those things take time. I end up feeling like I am being impatient and immature. He promises to work harder at finding a job and lay off on the games a little. We end up making up. Everything is sunshine and roses for about 2 weeks...then he slips back into the same patterns. I flip out again in about another 2 months, pattern repeats itself.

    So, as you can see -- he's a lot of talk and very little action. I guess I am answering my own questions here...thanks again everyone.


    Posted by Bummed in Beantown April 29, 09 01:42 PM
  1. I couldn't agree more with the comments re: whether he's a "man"... It's just pathetic that a bunch of ignorant brain-dead b!tches (with a "what can everyone do for me" attitude) pass this guy off as a video-game playing punk. Basically, lumping him into the over-grown child category.

    You see, when you're raised on a pedestal, parents constantly chiming about how special you are to the world, and how some day, some man will come along and GIVE you everything....... it's then easy to lose any chance at actual perspective for what it takes for some people to function in the world.

    You go fight a war, come back with PTSD, and then talk about how lazy you are to just sit around and do something that releases you from reality.

    The guy needs real help. Um yeah, maybe she should move on for her own sake, while he heals. But to come with your typical "kick him to the curb, you don't need him honey, you can do better for you, find a man that does right, blah, blah" YOU, YOU... Wow. It must be wonderful to expect so much perfection in what people owe you.

    I can only imagine the commentary if, God forbid, this guy were paralyzed at any point in his life....... "You don't need him! A real man would stand up for you!! Drop this loser who won't even move a leg for you, that'll teach him! Have you tried shoving him out of bed on to the floor?? That might be the motivation he needs to see how special you are. You shouldn't have to take this, etc., etc., etc."

    Posted by DJMcG April 29, 09 02:05 PM
  1. Bummed in Beantown I would say you have every right to tell him to move out until he gets some direction and stability.
    On the other hand I have friends who did 1 or 2 tours of duty in Iraq and when they came back they went through a similar phase as the boyfriend in the article - no motivation to move forward in the civilian world.
    The time apart would help him sort out his priorities.

    PS - I noticed a trend with the women asking for advice - They say "I never thought I would end up with a guy like him"......whats that really mean??

    Posted by JG April 29, 09 02:05 PM
  1. Just one more note...I want to clarify that I don't think I am "owed" anything really, and I feel badly that I come off like this. Like I said I am very successful in my own career, I don't have a hang up about making more money than him...and I'm not going to apologize or tiptoe around him if that indeed threatens his masculinity. I realize that might be a factor as well now. I don't need a man to provide for me, I just want to have a healthy and happy relationship -- and that can't happen until he wants it to happen. I have tried suggesting counseling in the past, either couples or one-on-one. He pretty much laughs it off and says he doesn't need it. It is painful to read comments stating he's not a "real" man. I do still love him and feel the need to defend him and our relationship, but I am wondering if there is a point where enough is enough.

    Posted by Bummed in Beantown April 29, 09 03:28 PM
  1. One more clarification -- my boyfriend indeed was on a peace-keeping mission in a non-combat zone in the Balkans. In fact, I think he developed the gaming habit while over there as a means to make the day go by when it was slow. So while I appreciate everyone's concern that this might be PTSD, I definately have considered that as well, and unless there were some very unusual circumstances that occurred in which he was faced with real danger that I don't know about, I don't think this is the case. I think he may in fact be suffering from "run of the mill" depression (not to down play it at all) and does need help for that.

    Posted by BIB April 29, 09 03:50 PM
    You better kick him out NOW. The only slight chance for a future together is :
    a. Definitely tell him to get his own place now
    b. If he gets a decent job (works at least 5 days a week & not 1 weekend)
    c. If he can show he can support himself for a couple of years - then MAYBE talk marriage - But NOT NOW.
    d.He can cut down or totally stop the PLAYING WITH HIS TOYS

    Posted by Been around April 29, 09 03:56 PM
  1. I would agree that video games can be very addictive. My husband went for (about) a two year period where he would eat dinner in front of the computer while playing Fighter Ace and then Everquest. I became an EQ widow and the players affectionately called it Evercrack. Then came WOW, but by this time he would logoff to have dinner together. Also, he has always held a full time job and doesn't miss work to play games. A couple of years ago I decided to try playing WoW too and for a couple of months, I was as addicted as he had ever been. He'd be saying, "Honey come on it's time for dinner" and I'd be the one saying, "Yeah just let me finish this one last quest." These games can really suck you in and in a way that is what makes them fun. You just have to make sure you are actually balancing it by getting the important stuff done (and having fun together outside of Azeroth too.)

    Posted by sundiego April 29, 09 05:39 PM
  1. Rico has read your additional information and has some further advice to add:

    Rico is now even more convinced that you just needed someone to validate your feelings. You can still love him and still care about him, however you need to do it from afar. Rico can't help but think you are wasting your time which is a precious commodity that will soon run out.

    Rico said it yesterday and he is saying it again. Go home and give him the orders (he is military right?) to pack up his belongings and get ready to be shipped out. No PTSD no war-zone shell shock or anythign, just pure laziness and depression. Let him go and be depressed on someone elses time/couch. This may be the wake-up call he needs. He is too "manly" to go for therapy and too proud to take a low paying job so he'll sit on your couch and play games while collecting taxpayers money and burning his savings account. The least he could do is volunteer at a local center for children, or help the VA hospitals or maybe just flip burgers at a McDonalds. Unstead he has chosen to couch surf and you are only enabling him.

    Rico has heard you make excuses for him and Rico thinks you need to stop. Do what needs to be done and tell Rico and his readers :) how it falls out. Rico doesn't want to hear any more excuses, he's made his bed (you probably did it for him) and now he needs to go sleep in it...in someone elses house, not yours.

    Now is a great time to buy a home for yourself while prices are low. get him out, find a home and meet someone new to enjoy what life has to offer.

    Don't forget to be green, ride the subway, riude a bike, walk more and get some fresh air.

    Love always,


    Posted by Rico April 29, 09 05:59 PM
  1. Bummed in Beantown,

    I read your follow up and wish I didn't understand what you were feeling, but I unfortunately can say I do. My situation was not that my ex was at home all the time, but that he didn't motivate on his own to meet his own goals.

    What I finally learned is that he was not a bad person, I still loved him, but I couldn't live with him. We were together for 9 years, lived together for 8 1/2 and legally married for the last 2. It took us a year + to undo the legal marriage stuff, but we both know we are much happier now and can actually go back to being friends.

    If you decide to stay with him I hope you think about a few things for yourself. Getting married to him will only complicate your life and undoing it is a lot more work than just moving out. Understand and believe that it is not your responsibility to make him succeed at his life goals. You can be supportive, but you can't make them happen no matter how hard you try. Finally I highly suggest you get a therapist for yourself. The effect he has on your well being is much greater than I suspect you can imagine. PTSD doesn't require some tragic event to happen in your life. The trauma can be as small as the cycle you are on of the talk to him, argue, forgive, get annoyed again, talk to him.....

    I hope you find your path and that he is able to find his. Maybe those paths will be together and maybe not. Remember that you are the only person that you have to live with for the rest of your life. Make sure the path you take is what you want and not what you think is best for him.

    Posted by my2cents April 30, 09 11:50 AM
  1. BIB - It does not sound like you guys are equal partners in this relationship. If he *wanted* to get married, then he would. If he *wanted* to get a job, he would have. (I know the economy tanked, but could you have gotten a job in the same time frame?) It sounds like you are enabling him. What is it exactly that you want to get out of marriage? Think about this situation now, and how it will be with one, two, four children. Life is long, and you will encounter hard times - your parents will die, you'll lose people along the way, bad things will happen - it's part of EVERYONE'S life. When crap hits the fan, do you want someone you can lean on, or someone you drag around with you like a log? 1/2 the marriages in this country end in divorce. Half. Think about it. For the record, I too, have suffered from depression. Hell, 1/2 the population does at some point. HE is responsible for getting himself help, not you. If he doesn't care enough about himself to address it...

    Run. Fast.

    (and don't let other commenters fool you into thinking you emasculate him by being a successful strong woman. any man in their right man would be PROUD to have you on their arm.)

    Posted by Anonymous April 30, 09 08:18 PM
ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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