Dear Carolyn: My boyfriend and I are in our early 30s and have been in a serious relationship for two years.
He is choosing not to go on a vacation with my family. I am incredibly hurt and angry about this. He says he can’t afford it, but this makes no sense considering his income and expenses. The trip is three months away and the costs are minimal. It would require him to take only two days off, which he’s said he could do.
I have explained to him how important it is to me that he attends. My family is very important to me, and thus far in our relationship I have cut back on a lot of family time because he doesn’t seem to enjoy it. We have been on two trips with his family, including a two-week overseas trip, and spend quite a bit of other time with them.
He’s just not getting how important family is to me and how much I want him to be a part of that. It’s also not about traveling, because he enjoys it. He’s never been too excited about the family functions we do attend, but when I ask he says he has no problem being around them. Is this something I should just get over and go without him, or is it a sign of bigger problems?
A: Who’s “just not getting” whom?
He has told you through his demeanor, actions and choices over two years that he doesn’t embrace your family as his own. He has also told you it’s not the idea of family he resists, since he’s tight with his; it’s just that he won’t rally for yours. He is even, quite clearly, comfortable with receiving your extra effort to embrace and spend time with his family while giving you no such effort in return.
Again – this isn’t me saying this stuff, it’s your boyfriend. There’s no message to interpret, there are just days, dollars and results. The one thing you haven’t yet acquired as proof of his lack of interest in embracing your family is his admission of this to your face.
If you think it’s a good use of your time to wait for the confession before you believe what the circumstantial evidence is telling you, then go on your trip solo and keep waiting for him to say the words. Obviously, though, I don’t think it is. Instead, it’s time to figure out just what you’d do if he did finally confess.
Would you go back with a fresh round of pleading?
Would you resign yourself to having to “cut back on a lot of family time” as a sad but reasonable price for someone you otherwise feel lucky to have at your side?
Would your idea of a “reasonable price” be more along the lines of restoring your lost family time and just leaving your man at home? In perpetuity?
Or would you decide this one life vision – where your companion is an eager addition to your family– is nonnegotiable, and break up with this guy? Whatever it is, that’s your next step.