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Advice from Dr. Stanwix – Resolute in Her Resolutions

Advice from Dr. Stanwix – Resolute in Her Resolutions
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Dear Dr. Stanwix,

I am seriously considering giving up something in 2015 and that is my boyfriend. He really has no direction in life and he just doesn’t seem to want to grow up. We are both in our 40s but he acts as though he is still in his 20s. While I used to enjoy having a good time with him, I am beginning to feel like this is a stage that we may never grow out of if we don’t start making plans for our future.

Whenever we talk about these things, he always promises me that things will change. He told me that our wild life would change starting in 2015. We are already two weeks into the New Year and I don’t see anything changing. He still wants to go out drinking every weekend and doesn’t want to engage in any of the more cultural events I have planned for our free time. He always says that we will start our new and more constructive itinerary the following weekend. However, when Friday rolls around, he’s right back at meeting for Happy Hour and getting wasted.

I think this is a cycle that he is unable to break out of and the more I enable him in this, the more he will continue down this destructive path until it becomes a serious problem.

What should I do?


Resolute in My Resolutions

Dear Resolute in My Resolutions,

You are wise to want to change course at this point in your life. There is nothing wrong with having a good time, but life needs to be taken seriously as well. Our forties and fifties are a difficult time for us. Some of the reckless habits we have developed earlier on, such as drinking and even drugging, become so ingrained in our behavior that we have difficulty finding other things to do. While we may be able to maintain a responsible job, we are not nourishing our intellect when we spend every weekend partying.

It is important to go beyond simple talk about this and begin to put your foot down. When doing so, be sure to be constructive rather than destructive. As tempting as it may be, try to avoid scolding or nagging him. I understand that it can be frustrating to be with someone who doesn’t keep his/her promises. In the end, though, he is the only one who can make these types of decisions for himself. If he doesn’t want to change, then you should simply go your own way.

At first, you can still maintain your relationship, but make it clear that you will not be continuing on the same course. If he wants to go out and get wasted on Friday night, let him. See if your friends would like to go to a movie or a relaxing dinner where the atmosphere doesn’t get too festive. Wake up early on Saturday and Sunday and do things that you want to do. You can visit museums or any other cultural activity your heart desires. Ask if he wants to join you. If he is too tired or hung-over, go without him.

In short, rather than foisting an ultimatum on him, just subtly present the choices available to him. He can either continue to get wasted without you or he can spend time with you in more constructive manners. The choice is his to make, not yours to impose.

If this doesn’t work, you must do some hard thinking for yourself rather than for both of you. Although you enjoy spending time with your boyfriend, you must consider whether he is really the right person for you. We all grow in different ways and at different rates. Perhaps his growth has stagnated and yours hasn’t. If you find the chasm between you widening, you must decide whether you want to continue with him when that chasm becomes too wide.

Best of luck,

Dr. Michael Stanwix


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