More Bruins help today. Matt Bartkowski sort of takes over on this one. I like it.
Q: Hey Meredith and LL readers!
I am a long-time fan/reader/sometime commenter who never thought she'd find the day when she was writing in for love advice, but here I am.
I am in a relationship with "Matt" that, admittedly, is my first serious relationship. We are both in our early 30s, and when we met a couple years ago, our relationship moved very quickly and we moved in together within a couple of months. We love each other and we enjoy a lot of the same things, but there is one thing that is starting to wear on me a little. I am curious to know if this is normal and I need to just get over it, or if I should be upset enough to move on. Sometimes I feel that the thought of being the only single person left in a group of mostly coupled off family and friends might be urging me to force this along. (I hope I didn't just answer my own question.)
Anyway, to the issue, I am much more social than he is. I have a larger group of friends and family who are very close and try to see each other at least a couple times a month. In the beginning of our relationship, Matt would fairly willingly tag along to my events, but after we moved in together, things seemed to change. He wouldn't be so willing to accompany me to my friend/family oriented events. Now, it's often me showing up alone and having to give excuses why he isn't there. And when he is with me, I almost feel tense, like I need to make sure that he is having a good time. Usually we end up leaving early, which is not my style, and occasionally he heads out and I get a ride or take a cab home. It's to the point that even though they are always polite, I know my friends are almost offended by him not coming.
I go to all of his family/friend oriented events with no questions asked, and I am nice, friendly, and make sure to chat with all of them. Am I being silly thinking that he should do the same for me, even though there are more events on my side? It's a struggle for me, because when we are alone, we have a great time, and I know he loves me and I love him, but I also love my friends and want him to enjoy them, too. Also, having a significant other means having companionship and compromising, right? However, I know I am never going to become less social. Am I over reacting?
Be gentle ...
– Socialized & Confused in New England
A: You're not overreacting. That tension you describe at social events ... well, it sounds pretty awful.
You have to talk to him about this problem (obviously), but please start the conversation with some empathy and a compromise. Explain that you understand that he isn't going to want to tag along for every gathering (especially now that you live together), but that you want him to be present when he's there. Like, emotionally present. Honestly, if he made the attempt to engage with your community at these events -- like really talked to people and looked happy to be there (and didn't leave early) -- you'd probably be more open to him missing some parties. Quality is more important than quantity here.
Prepare yourself, because he might not understand what you mean when you ask him to be better about engaging with your friends. He might not know how his behavior is perceived by your community, and it's possible that he'll get defensive. Please let him talk it out and ask questions. Also: Ask him whether there's someone in the group he'd prefer to avoid. Tell him that it's better for you to understand where he's coming from so that you can make these outings as easy as possible.
If you really want a partner who's with you at every event with a smile on his face, this guy isn't for you. But I'm not convinced that you're the kind of person who always needs a plus-one. I'm confident that if your boyfriend was awesome and engaged during some of your community events, you'd feel happy at all of them, with or without him.
Readers? Is she asking for too much? Is it bad that she winds up going home alone? Is she with him for the right reasons? How often does your partner come to events with you? 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.