Advice

We used to have fun camping together. But now fishing is his first and only priority.

Dear Wayne and Wanda,

Now that fishing season has started, all my boyfriend wants to do on weekends is fish, go where the fish are, camp where the fish are running, etc. This means nearly every weekend we leave Anchorage after we get off work Friday nights and show up late at some campground (or parking lot) and get a bad night’s sleep. Then he fishes basically every waking hour until we finally drive home at the last possible moment (can’t miss any fishing time!). We barely spend any time together. I spend most of the weekend by myself in a campsite reading and hoping I don’t get visited by bears.

I really don’t mind camping. I grew up in Alaska, I like the outdoors just fine. The problem is just the tempo and activity of these trips. It’s exhausting. We hardly see each other. And he isn’t picking places to go because they’re beautiful or fun or historic or there are things to do. On the contrary, it often feels like we’re in the middle of nowhere, or conversely, surrounded by obnoxious campers and RVs and boats.

This is only our second summer together and while we camped last summer, we didn’t go as much and he didn’t fish this much. We’re pretty serious about each other and have discussed marriage down the road. So I guess it’s important to me now that we establish routines that we both find to be fun. And I’m just not having fun with these frantic weekend fishing trips. I did ask whether I could pick our location and he said I wouldn’t know how to find the right spot for the best fishing. He’s probably right! Advice?

Wanda says:

It’s cliché to say but oh so true: successful relationships are about compromise. If we expect our partner to just fall in line as we keep doing exactly what we’ve always done — well, that’s not really relating, is it? But one can’t compromise if they don’t understand what exactly it is you need, and that’s where communication comes in.

Consider this classic story: two people are fighting over a lemon. They both claim they need it and can’t share it. But it turns out one wants the lemon juice, and the other, the zest from the lemon skin. And they realize, after all, they can share the lemon. Yay! I believe the same is true for the two of you with regards to your weekends. He wants to fish. You want to spend your time in a place more interesting and satisfying than a Kenai parking lot.

So how about this: since you’re the one spending the majority of these getaways at the campsite home base, and he’s the one most savvy to the hottest fishing spots, request that he propose three options in advance of the weekends, and give you the final say in destination. That way he’s narrowed it down and guaranteed an eventual spot where fish are running, and you get authority to choose a desirable location so your weekends don’t feel like such a waste. With that kind of compromise, you’ve taken steps toward a getaway where you both are getting more of what you need.

Wayne says:

Sorry you two, but I don’t see these lemons turning into lemonade until this boyfriend and his fishing ambitions are significantly squeezed.

You see, last summer was couple camping, and that sounds like a lot of fun and genuinely solid bonding time in a budding relationship. What you’re doing this summer is setting up and holding down his fish camp. And while he’s casting and having a blast, the high point of your weekend is your phone or iPad battery not dying so you can finish your downloaded shows and books. If this situation isn’t addressed soon, this will be every summer weekend for the rest of your relationship.

It’s time that your boyfriend appreciates that he’s already reeled in the big catch: you. And that if suddenly you and your comfort, happiness and desire to spend weekends together — like really together, not sharing a tent after he’s slayed and filleted all day — with him are less important than his fishing every summer weekend, you might have to release him.

Yes, you’re dating a fisherman and for most of them, that passion burns really hot. But it shouldn’t be more important or intense than his love and partnership with you. Is there space for compromise after he realizes that? Sure. But until then, you shouldn’t even hit the road with him because you’ll just be wasting another summer weekend in Alaska and there aren’t many of those. There are, however, more than a few good Alaska men and women who would gladly reel back their fishing for a special partner.

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