Here’s a disastrous move I’ve seen many, many times:
One person, who wants to get his own way, tries to change his partner’s mind about something the partner wants to do.
Guilt, resentment, shaming…this dumps all sorts of horrible behaviors into a relationship. And almost inevitably it diminishes the relationship.
Here’s a recent letter about this dynamic from my Washington Blade column that sums it all up:
My girlfriend is planning a vacation week around Labor Day with six of her gal pals from college, and I am not invited.
We’ve been dating for almost a year and had already been together for eight months when they started planning this trip.
I really feel she should have invited me to come along. It’s not that I’m jealous or worried anything will happen with one of the other women. I know they’re just friends. I just feel really excluded.
We’ve been getting increasingly serious and have been talking about moving in together when my lease is up in December. So I think it’s right that we should be spending most of our time together, especially vacation, which we don’t get that much of.
Kathy says that she’s not using that many vacation days and we still have plenty of time to go away together. But I think she’s missing the point. I’d love to spend a week at the beach relaxing with her at the end of Summer.
And why doesn’t she want me to hang out with her and her friends?
She said none her friends are bringing their significant others. But her friends are all straight so it makes sense not to have any guys at a gals-only weekend. Having me there would be a different story.
I told her that, and she replied that she wants a vacation alone with her friends, and having me there would change the dynamic.
I don’t get it. I know these women are extremely important to her so this would be a great opportunity for me to get to know them and vice versa. If I’m her girlfriend and this is a serious relationship, what better time for all of us to meet?
Supposedly Kathy is out to all her friends but part of me wonders if she is not comfortable bringing me because I’m a woman. Kathy says that’s ridiculous and insulting to her.
This whole thing makes me feel like I don’t mean that much to her. Am I overreacting to her leaving me alone for a week while she goes on vacation with her friends?
Don’t push your girlfriend to do something that she doesn’t want to do.
This is Kathy’s life and her friend group. She’s telling you that she wants a vacation alone with her friends. Respect this. Many people want their own space at times, even when they are in a relationship. While there’s a popular idea that couples should be practically joined at the hip, doing “everything” together feels smothering to a lot of folks.
You and Kathy are two different people, so it’s inevitable that you aren’t always going to agree on the right way to live. Especially because there is no one right way. If you want to be in a generally happy relationship, strive to accept this.
If you try to convince Kathy that she is wrong and you are right, you will likely damage your relationship. When you tell your romantic partner how to conduct her life, or try to guilt her into doing something she doesn’t want to do, she is bound to become resentful.
Yes, I get that you are disappointed. But it’s not Kathy’s job to do your bidding so that you are never let down.
Relationships don’t mean that your girlfriend always strives to please you.
It’s Kathy’s job to behave thoughtfully toward you, and also to honor what she believes is important to her. Sometimes, inevitably, this will mean that she doesn’t do what you want her to do.
When this happens, it’s your own job to find a way to tolerate the disappointment.
Given that you’ve been contemplating moving in together, I gather that Kathy is usually caring and attentive. How about putting your focus on what you love and appreciate about her, rather than theorizing about her reasons for excluding you from this vacation or coming up with justifications as to why she should do things your way.
I understand that you don’t like being left on your own, but no significant other is always going to be by your side. So you’ve got to get better at tolerating the inevitable. For starters, work on keeping your mood positive and staying engaged with life while Kathy is on vacation with her friends.
Getting better at this will make you a stronger and more resilient girlfriend. No surprise, the stronger and more resilient you are, the more appealing a partner you will be.
Also, you will be a lot more fun to be in a relationship with if you plan an upcoming getaway just for the two of you, instead of moping or being resentful.