Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn • I’m dating someone who loves to be with a group, all the time. I’m someone in the middle who loves the group, loves some quiet time, and loves doing things with my partner without the group.
Whenever we are together and someone else calls us to go out, he is ready to go and in fact says it’s his preference for us to be with the group rather than alone every single time. He says he loves me and chalks this up to him being an extrovert, but I’m starting to think (and feel) he doesn’t know how to nurture a relationship — it’s definitely showing up as an incompatibility.
I don’t want to throw in the towel just yet but I’m heading there. I thought every personality type would love some alone time with their partner once in a while, but maybe that’s a personality preference? I would love your insight. — Dating
I think giving “insight” invites more work than the situation warrants. He doesn’t give you what you need, even after your good faith effort to ask for it, so he’s not the guy.
Dear Carolyn • Any tips for emotionally surviving the relocation of a recent ex and his new girlfriend to my urban neighborhood? They live only a few blocks away and it looks like I’ll be running into them a lot, especially if they like to go to the same places on weekends that he and I used to go to. I’m sure it’ll be easier for me down the line, but right now it hurts. — This Town Has to Be Big Enough for the Both of Us
He’s an ex for a reason, probably a really good one, even if that reason is just that he didn’t love you as much as you loved him. That’s a gut-punch, obviously. But the payoff of putting up with another being in your life and all of his needs and quirks and inefficient ways of loading the dishwasher — nooooo!!! — is to immerse yourself in that person’s full acceptance of you, as you are, and to make a loving gift of your full acceptance of him. And if you don’t have that mutually, then you’re left with frustration and chores.
So, condensed: Full acceptance is the goal, either in the form of your own company in your singleness, or in the form of a healthy, mutual, committed relationship with a person who really fits you. He gave you neither.
Which brings me to your neighborhood.
Take your solo full self-acceptance out for a walk in your neighborhood at your first opportunity. Then do it again. And again. And again. Run into your ex and his current, let it hurt, then go home and regroup and get out there again.
The only cat poster material I can currently bear is: “The only way out is through.” So true.