After four years she’s ready to settle down and commit and he’s not. Should she give him time? Should she stay or go?
Welcome to Let’s Get Real! Today’s episode is about what happens when one partner is ready to settle down, and the other isn’t.
Tracy from Toronto writes: “I’ve been with my boyfriend for four years. The problem is that he lives a wild lifestyle- partying, drinking, lots of women and staying out until the wee hours of the morning. I told him i’d like to settle down, commit to each other and start a family. Every time I bring it up he changes the subject. He never wants to talk about it. I don’t want to waste any more time if we don’t have a future together. What do you think?
Tracy, It really is tough, and this is something that a lot of couples go through when one person wants to commit or take the relationship to another level, and the others not quite ready. But it sounds like in this case, he really is not ready to settle down with you yet. Tracy I’m a bit confused that if you’ve had a wild lifestyle with him, that you’ve been with him while he’s had lots of women and partying, that why would you expect any different from him, and all of the sudden you are ready to commit, you want your life to change, you want to settle down, and it’s very clear that he doesn’t. He’s letting you know that with his nonverbal language with what he doesn’t say and with what he does say. So one thing that might be helpful here, is that there are different kinds of relationships and there is when you’re dating, or when you’re single or when you are a couple, even a non-committed couple, anyway. There’s such a thing as what we call a Recreational Relationship, and this relationship is based on FUN, and having fun. It’s not meant to be long-term. It’s not meant to get all your needs met. It’s just meant to have fun. So when you are thirteen years old, that’s the kind of relationship you want. If you are just recently separated, or going through divorce that’s the kind of relationship that you’re ready for or you might want at the time. If you are working full-time, going to school full-time, your life is full, you’re not ready to settle down with anybody, but you don’t want to be a hermit. You do want to be social, and you do want to date. You want to date around. You want to play the field. You want to have fun, then Recreational Relationships. However, the other kind of relationship here is a Committed Relationship, and this is one in which you do settle down with somebody and it’s about the long term, and in order for a long-term relationship to work both of your needs need to be met and your requirements as well.
Now requirements are deal breakers, you know. They are what you must have in order for a relationship to work for you and you know what got my attention was when you said he’s had lots of women. Well for most people, you know, monogamy or fidelity is a requirement. If their partner gets involved with somebody else then all of sudden, sorry, the relationship stops working. So, when we date, it’s very useful to be clear. Are you seeking a Recreational Relationship? Are you at the time of your life that you it’s just about fun, you’re not ready for anything else? Or are you seeking a long-term partner? The kind of choice you make, when you just want to have fun, is gonna be very different from the kind of choice you make when you’re looking for a long term partner. The problem happens when you hook up with somebody for fun and then you try to convert that into a long-term relationship and asking somebody to change in order for a relationship to work for you, trust me, doesn’t work. Tried it. Done that. You know it just does not work. But people do change, and that’s the point. It sounds like you went from you know just wanting to have a fun relationship to having to a committed relationship. So it is possible, that he could too. But the fact that you have asked him and he’s changing the subject. He’s telling you. I mean that’s the same as telling you. He really isn’t ready. Actions speak louder than words and behavior follows patterns. So whenever somebody does something or said something, you know, once, you better believe that’s not random. That has purpose to it, behavior follows patterns. He’s definitely in a pattern of, you know he’s a fun guy. He’s a partyer, He’s wild. That’s who he is. At least, that’s who he is right now, and that may change over time. But, behavior follows patterns. You have to assume that what’s happening now, will continue.
So, Tracy what do you do about this? Some strategies for you: #1. You could do NOTHING. Just give it time. It might work itself out. We know that things do change over time. Nothing stays the same, ever. Even though in the moment it might seem like you know, this is terrible and it’s going to be terrible forever. Well it won’t. Things do change over time, so it’s quite possible to go ahead and give it time and do nothing and see if it works itself out. And you didn’t share with us how old you are. You know, oftentimes really young adults go through this. They have a kind of a wild period, when they are young. So if your boyfriend is in his early twenties. Still in his formative years. Then, you know he might just, give him a little bit of time, and maybe he will change. But if he is 50 and still going through this then that probably is just who he is. We do have a recommendation about this strategy though, if you’re going to do nothing and give it time. Set a deadline of some kind. Maybe six months. A year, two years. How long are you willing to give this relationship? How long are you willing to invest in it before you decide that you’re going to go ahead and cut bait? Because it’s not going to be what you want. So definitely give it a deadline. Even write it down on your calendar and when that date comes, if nothing’s changed, then you probably need to go your
separate ways. So a deadline with this strategy is very, very important. Don’t do nothing forever.
So another strategy we highly highly recommend for any relationship and anything in life is, Accept Reality. You are dealing with the reality that you don’t like, you don’t want, you wish you were different but you need to acknowledge it, accept it, and stop trying and stop trying to change reality. Stop trying to change him. It is doomed. It is a not an effective way to live your life. Trust me, I’ve been there. This is a hard lesson to learn, that we are not that powerful. So we need to acknowledge and accept reality, and embrace reality and deal with reality. Make our decisions based on reality instead of potential, or the way they want it to be. We need to deal with the way things really are. So really, your decision that you want to make right now is, should I stay or should I go? Is this ever going to really fit what you want? If he doesn’t change, think about if six months from now. If he’s like this, is that going to work for you? Or is it really just time to, you know, say goodbye? We get this question all the time. In fact it’s probably the biggest question from singles or new couples or people in non-committed relationship, even some people in committed relationships, is should I stay or should I go? And when you’re committed you made a commitment. However, If you’re not yet committed then this is your chance to make a good long-term choice for yourself before you make that commitment, because right now it’s reversible. When you make a commitment and go down that road, it’s not reversible. The consequences are a lot higher.
So a helpful paradigm that we have for you is requirements, needs and wants. These are the three biggies in a relationship. You have requirements. You have non-negotiable deal breakers, what you must have in order for a relationship to work for you. And if one is missing, the relationship won’t work. You know, like we mention for a lot of people, monogamy and fidelity is a REQUIREMENT. And then there’s NEEDS. Needs are what you need to be happy. You have emotional needs. You have functional needs, that’s what you need to feel okay. And a need is not necessarily a deal breaker. If it is not met you won’t be happy. You’ll have a problem. you’ll feel an issue of some kind. But, we can talk about it and there’s many ways to get needs met. With requirements there’s usually not a whole lot of ways to meet them. They’re usually black and white. Either you got fidelity or you don’t. But with needs for example, ” You know, Honey I really need you to lock the door, you know, after you come home at night.” Well if she forgets to lock the door, then I can lock the door. Or we can have an automatic locking door. Or we can have an alarm on the door that goes off 30 minutes after it is not locked. There’s many ways to meet needs. And then wants are the icing on a cake. Wants are what makes life enjoyable and pleasurable but wants are changeable and you can have none of your wants met and be very very happy in your relationship. So making a relationship decision based on wants, is generally not a good idea. Having your needs met is very important but they’re always negotiable, there’s always many ways to meet them.
Requirements are a key. So clearly you have a requirement here. At this time in your life, you want to settle down. You want to have a particular kind of relationship and lifestyle. You deserve that. You can have that. You need to decide is it possible with your boyfriend? Do you want it with your boyfriend? And trying to change him to make that work probably won’t work and probably won’t happen, but you can work with him and give it time and maybe it will happen but that’s the bottom line of answering the question, should I stay or should I go? Will I be able to get my requirements met here, and what are my requirements? It’s very important to know what all they are. What are your deal breakers and that’s probably a topic for another video. So, make your relationship choices in alignment with your long-term goals. If you want to have fun, go ahead and have fun, make your relationship choices based on fun. But when you want to settle down have a family, live responsibly like adults or grow up or you know whatever value or you know whatever it looks like, then you need to make your relationships choices, and starting the choice of partner in alignment of those long term goals.
So, right now that’s what you need, to be thinking about if you decide that you do need to go and split up from your boyfriend. You’re next relationship choice isn’t about fun. You can have fun. We would recommend you’d have fun but really keep the goal in mind that what you really want is a committed relationship with somebody who also wants to have a committed relationship. So, you need to kind of have that in mind up front when you make your next decision. The mistake that a lot of people make is they choose a relationship based on having fun together and then when they decide they want to continue it, and then a requirement isn’t met, then it’s not so fun anymore. And then the relationship stops working. So make your relationship choices based on your long-term requirements, not just on fun.
So, if you have an idea a suggestion, or comment for Tracy please enter it in the comment box below and let’s help her decide what to do with her wild boyfriend. And please do remember that telling the truth has consequences. It really is the only way to have a fulfilling relationship but not all relationships can handle the truth. If this is your situation, please do get the support you need from a qualified therapist, counselor or coach. No one is successful alone. Just a little support can go a long way in helping you live happily ever after. So thanks for watching and bye for now!