A couple months ago, I started dating a man I met at a local coffee shop. The problem is my family and friends do not really like him, especially my daughters. Everyone thinks I am too accepting of his behavior because I haven’t dated much since my divorce last year. But they do not know this man like I do. They tell me he is moody and easily angered. They fuss when I have to cancel plans because he needs me. But I understand that he is a sensitive soul who just needs someone to love him. Why won’t they give him a chance?
Your family and friends could be overprotective, trying to prevent you from suffering any hurt. And your daughters may not be ready to accept another man in your life who isn’t their father.
Those are possibilities, which will require you to set and maintain the boundary that they respect you and accept your choices.
But another possibility is they may see your new man through eyes not blinded by all the addictive emotions of a new relationship.
Our past experiences do not absolve our responsibility for present behavior. Each of us has suffered loss and pain and betrayal. But we define who we are by how we react to those hurts and struggles.
So, if he is actually moody and easily angered, he is showing you who he is. He won’t change, at least not as long as he can find others who are willing to accept his behavior. You can spend the rest of your life “understanding” him and “loving” him. And he can spend the rest of his life as a sullen, angry man who needs you so much that you are often forced to sacrifice time with your family, including time with your daughters.
He may have great potential. But you cannot date the potential. You can only date the reality.
So is he actually who your friends and family see?
If he is, then do not expect him to change. First, love and understanding do not force change; he will have to make a choice. Second, expecting him to change to fit your ideal is unfair and disrespectful to him.
You have to accept him as he is, not as you think he can be.
I am a morning person, my husband is not. In a few weeks, we are leaving on vacation, just the two of us for the first time in years. But I remember our last vacation, and I know I will want to have an early start every morning, so that we can see and do all the things we might want to see and do, while he will want to stay in bed and relax, resisting any hint of a schedule. How do we avoid killing each other while on our romantic vacation?
The same way you avoid killing each other at home: compromise.
First, are you more interested in some sites and activities than he is? If so, could you choose one or two mornings to experience those on your own? Then you will not miss those attractions, and he can enjoy a few mornings to sleep late. And, sometimes, even on a romantic vacation, couples can use an hour of separation here and there.
On other days, perhaps you can still start a little earlier than him. Could you visit the gym while he relaxes in bed? Or can you bring breakfast back to the room, so that he can have a few extra minutes? Then the two of you can start your planned activities, perhaps a little later than you may want and a little earlier than he prefers.
If you compromise a few mornings of early starts, will he sacrifice a few mornings of late sleep and join you in some early morning excursions?
Most importantly, enjoy each other, laugh with each other, appreciate each other. You may miss a site or excursion, but the vacation shouldn’t really be about where you go.
It’s about whom you are with.
Angel Donnette Robertson is not a professional counselor, but she has a lifelong appreciation for the beauty
and complications of relationships.
Have a relationship question for Angel? Contact her through her blog at www.angeldonnette.wordpress.com. She will select reader questions to answer, along with questions she finds, in upcoming issues of Inside Columbia’s Prime.