I received pages and pages of emails about the self-help books. If you didn't get one, please try again next time. They were gone pretty early in the day.
Q: Hi Meredith,
My boyfriend and I have been together for a little over three years. We have a lot in common and have been very attached since the first day we met. We are best friends and it's really hard for me to picture my life without him.
He graduated college about a year ago and has been working at an entry-level position in the Boston area while I have been finishing my last semester of school. It did not take him very long for him to realize he did not like his job. He has been pretty miserable since the first day. Moreover, he really doesn't know what he wants to do with his life, which is OK with me, and I have tried to be as supportive as possible. However, our relationship has been strained for the past 3-4 months. He has always been rather poor at communicating, and it's been especially hard lately. I am frustrated because I want him to do something he's passionate about, but he won't let me help him and he does not seem motivated to either look for another job or go back to school. Moreover, his poor communication skills have affected other parts of our relationship as well. For example, it frustrates me that he never talks about his work with me. I don't feel comfortable with him going out to happy hours and bars with his coworkers, who happen to be mostly female. They are very flirty with him, although he claims they "are like that to everyone." Again, I have communicated my concerns with him and he just lashes out at me.
Do you think I should move on with my life without him? Or, do you think I should continue to offer him support even though it is unlikely to guide him anywhere?
– Confused, Boston
A: You spend your whole first paragraph telling us that your boyfriend is your best friend, but your second paragraph suggests that the friendship is kind of a mess. He doesn't communicate and "lashes out." Meanwhile, he seems to feel threatened and pressured by your attempts to support him. Your boyfriend isn't ready to make any big moves because he doesn't know what he wants next. You want to help him, but he needs to help himself.
You've spent a lot of energy on his needs, but it's time to consider your own. Would you be happier if you didn't have to worry about his place in life? Would you be better off with someone who communicated well? What are you going to do after graduation? The relationship worked when you were both in school ... but does it work now?
I can't tell you whether you should bail on this relationship right this second. My gut tells me that you're about to hit a wall, but it sounds like that wall is still a few feet away from your face. (We usually need to smack into the wall before we end this kind of thing.)
Do some selfish thinking. Ask you boyfriend if he's happy in the relationship and what you both can do to make it easier. Find out how close he is to the wall. Maybe after some honest conversation about your partnership (as opposed to his job), you can walk into that wall together.
Readers? Should they break up? Is she really supporting him with the job stuff? Does she understand what life is like for him outside of school? Does this relationship still work? What's next? Help.
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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.