DEAR KELLY: I went on a cruise last summer with my family and met the most awesome guy, Tommy. We connected like I have never connected with anyone before. He said he felt the same. The problem is that he lives in Long Island, so it’s all the way across the country. We have texted, Skyped and Face Timed since we left the cruise and got to meet in San Francisco for two days over Christmas when Tommy was visiting family out here. When we saw each other it was like nothing changed. We had so much fun. We both have really strong feelings for each other, and I honestly think we are in love. He’s such a great guy, and even my family loves him.
My problem is that I have my prom coming up and he can’t fly out for it because he wants to save his money so he can come out for more than just a weekend during the summer. Tommy’s so mad because I want to go to prom with a guy who’s just a friend. Tommy doesn’t understand why I want to go. He says that he’s not sure about us if I go to the dance with another guy because he would never do that to me. When I promised him the other guy was just a friend whom I have known forever and there has never been anything between us, he was still mad. He thinks it’s only fair that on my prom night he goes on a date with “just a friend” so I can feel the same way he does all night. I think it’s a totally different situation, but he doesn’t see things like that. I’m so confused.
This is causing serious problems, and I don’t know what to do. I already told my friend I would go with him but if it’s going to break up me and Tommy, I don’t know if it’s worth it. What should I do? I’m stressing out. One night doesn’t seem worth losing someone you love, but this will be my only prom. I want to go to prom but I’m afraid I’ll lose Tommy. How do I explain it to him so he understands? Please help.
DEAR MG: Tommy may be a great guy, but he’s definitely not being a good boyfriend putting you in place to pick between your prom and him. He brings up the word “unfair” and yet he seems to be the unfair one. Perhaps Tommy needs to think about the position he is putting you in instead of only thinking about himself. He may seem amazing and perfect, but he doesn’t sound understanding and trusting. Stop being afraid of losing him and focus more on losing out on once-in-a-lifetime memories.
If you and Tommy want to make a go at having a long-distance relationship, some guidelines and rules should be established. The first being neither of you will be asked to miss out on important moments such as dances, school events or hanging out with friends just because the other person is jealous and can’t handle the idea of the other one having fun without them. Giving up those memories will only cause regret one day when you realize all you missed out on just to make someone else happy.
The eye-for-an-eye thing seems like a red flag, don’t you think? Just because he thinks he will suffer, he wants you to suffer, too. Does that sound fair? Or better yet does that sound like something you do for someone you care about? If his motive is to make you feel bad and stressed on your prom night, then he is not the perfect wonderful guy you think he is. Be more cautious of using the word “love” with a guy whom you really haven’t spent a lot of time with and is making you feel so bad about something you should be excited about. Loving someone does not mean making them sick to their stomach with worry or threatening them with your words to make you do what they want.
You’re right, prom is just one night. One special night that you never get to do over. One night where you get to see all the people you have gone to high school with dressed up and having fun. One night where you can dance with your friends, laugh, share and make fun memories. One night? Maybe. One chance to have this one night? Absolutely.
Tell Tommy that you are going to your prom because you want to and it’s no disrespect to him or to your long-distance relationship. If he tries the “play-it-fair-game” or the “me-or-the-dance,” then you need to step back and take a long look at why you are giving any energy or time to this guy. Trust me, he’s not worth it. No person should tell you that you can’t hang out with a guy who is a friend at a school dance. End of story. No explanation needed.
Go to your dance. Be a teenager. Make some memories. Cut a rug. Have fun. Hang out with your friends. Tell Tommy to take a hike if he can’t encourage you to do the same.
Kelly Richardson, a Folsom therapist, works with adolescents.