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Her high school sweetheart acts like he’s still in high school. Should she put a ring on it?

  • Author: Wayne and Wanda
  • Updated: November 17, 2018
  • Published November 17, 2018

Dear Wayne and Wanda,

I saw a post from someone else asking you for advice about what she should do about her distant boyfriend. I have a similar situation, though my fiancé and I haven't been together nearly as long.

I started dating him in 2016 when we were in high school. He proposed to me five months later. Problems with us didn't start arising until we were dating for a year (we're at two years now, almost three). He wouldn't wake up until 3 in the afternoon; we had fights about that and random small, unnecessary fights and it always got blown out of proportion.

I recently moved in with him and I've realized I spent more time with him when we were in high school and I was living with my mom. Now when we could be spending time together, he tends to procrastinate, goes into another room, and seems to love his computers and such more than me. He makes promises and doesn't keep them. I work hard but he doesn't have a job. He had one but hasn't tried to find another.

One of the biggest problems is he doesn't come to see my parents with me (I go every Sunday) and he hasn't seen them in an actual visit since my 18th birthday party. My mom asks, does he hate them? My stepfather doesn't even ask anymore.

He uses excuses for why all these things happen like how much he's gone through in his life and that's why he acts the way he does, but that excuse has gone on for too long. Granted, he has been through a lot, but not something someone can't overcome.

Not going into full detail, but I'm lost at what to do. I've talked to him about all of this but it never ends up good and usually turns into a fight. No clue what to do or think anymore. Any advice?

Wayne says: 

Really sorry to hear all of this. And really sorry to confirm that you deserve better. I know you don't want this to be true, but it's clearly not breaking news. Your note was seemingly your intuition/gut/brain/heart expressing the same thing. It's time to listen to them and to take care of yourself. Which means it's also time to move on from your boyfriend/fiancé.

Maintaining healthy and happy relationships can be hard work; maintaining a struggling relationship can be downright exhausting, confusing, frustrating and depressing, especially when one person is doing all the work to keep it afloat. Not to be the cliché old sage, but you are so young and have your whole life ahead of you. Do you want really want to spend the rest of your life (or even the next six months) in a situation with someone who doesn't appreciate you, doesn't spend time with you or the people who you love, falls back on the same old excuses, and would rather fight or flee than communicate and work with you to fix problems?

I appreciate your commitment to this relationship and all of the energy you continue to dedicate to making it work. And I know that it can be sad and scary to end a relationship with someone you care about and have history with. But oftentimes that move is for the best. Ask your mom. Ask an older friend. Ask Wanda and me. We'll all confirm that for you. And we'll also confirm that there are greater, happier opportunities on the horizon when you listen to your heart and do what's best for you.

Good luck.

Wanda says: 

While we are always evolving, learning and, to some degree, changing, I'm a firm believer in the idea that people have to have a certain level of functionality, sensitivity, emotional awareness and stability to be a true contributing partner in a serious relationship. Translation: We all have baggage, and sometimes drama, but one needs to have himself (or herself) figured out to a degree and be willing to do a certain amount of sometimes uncomfortable and vulnerable work to really hold up his end of the bargain in a relationship. Sadly, and frankly, it doesn't sound like your boyfriend is there yet.

Walking away from tough conversations, outright avoiding you, and dismissing opportunities to spend time with your family are not the actions of a mature, caring man who's ready to be married. Maybe he's ready for a teenage relationship, But ready for marriage? Ready for the responsibilities of a lifetime partnership that is supposed to shelter and support you through massive transitions like child-rearing, career changes, family members' deaths, layoffs, budget crisis, and other calamities? Really? This guy? He can't even get out of bed before noon.

I understand very real feelings are involved here, but reassess. Why are you with this guy? What does he bring to the table? Why do you love him? What things about this relationship make you happy? Once you've finished that internal audit of your romantic reality, I think you must admit that this is not a pairing that's ready for the realities of matrimony. Even living together may be too much at this point, because that, too, marks a massive level of commitment, coordination and patience as your lives braid together; living together means giving up a lot of independence and privacy. Knowing your age, I'm assuming this is your first couple cohabitation, and probably his too. Some of his pulling away from you could be him trying to figure out the right balance between maintaining his man-cave time and including you in his life now that you're around all the time.

At the end of the day, if you're determined to not break up, then at least dial it back. Don't live together. Put the engagement on hold. Try just dating again — and enjoy being young people in the early years of a relationship that could someday mature to something more. Note that I say "someday," because that transition to a more serious relationship won't occur without hard work and time.

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