Q: My boyfriend Joe 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: He 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 needs a bromance?, Boston
A: Your job is to make Joe feel normal, DMBNAB. 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 yes, occasionally include him if you're going out in a big group. That's all you can do right now.
Readers? Should she feel guilty when she leaves Joe at home? Will he resent that she might have pushed his friends away? Is it normal to go through a friendless phase? Am I right to say that all of this might change? Is the family stuff a part of this? Discuss.
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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.