DEAR CAROLYN: I am 27 and recently broke up with my boyfriend of three years after eight months of excruciating deliberation. Although I love him, there were certain deal-breakers that would make building a life together fairly difficult.
First, I want to plant roots near my family, across the country from our current city, and he doesn’t.
Second, I am fine with having some drinks, but he took it to extremes pretty often.
Other than that we are best friends, have common goals and love spending time together. I just could not shake the pit in my stomach when thinking about the two big issues.
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I have had moments of peace with my decision, but every time I see my family, they never fail to remind me what a great guy he is, ask me if there is any chance of us working out and remind me there are a lot of dirtbags out there who won’t compare to him.
I am tired of second-guessing my choice every time I see them. Is it worth reassessing the relationship? I do love him, and maybe my “deal-breakers” are actually “deal-benders.”
DEAR SECOND-GUESSING: May I suggest second-guessing your preference for living near your family?
As for the ex, you had me at “drinks too much.”
Whether you want to tell your family he’s a problem drinker is up to you, but certainly you can make your point, very clearly, without that detail: “I made the only right decision for me. If you’d like to marry him, then you get some say in this; otherwise, please respect my judgment.”
You have a boundary-impaired family and were drawn to an alcoholic best friend/boyfriend; maybe it’s a reach to conclude that you have the overdeveloped sense of responsibility and underdeveloped sense of self that dysfunctional homes tend to breed.
What is important right now is that you distinguish between what moves you forward and holds you back – a standard that cuts through emotional clutter.
Also important – huge, even: noting whether the people in your life help or obstruct your good health.
DEAR CAROLYN: I traveled abroad last year with a friend. It was a fine experience, but ever since then, she’s kept asking me when “our” next trip is. I would like to travel with her again in the future, but I just want to go by myself on my next trip. How should I tell her without sounding rude?
DEAR ANONYMOUS: “I’d love to travel with you again, but I’m doing my next trip solo. 2015?” You are who you are; give her a chance to accept that.