Magazine article Psychology Today

Relationships: Unconventional Wisdom

Magazine article Psychology Today

Relationships: Unconventional Wisdom

Article excerpt

THE PURPOSE OF DATING

My boyfriend and I, both 22, met at school. He is Caucasian from an upper-middle-class family; I'm a minority from a lower-middle-class family. After college, I immediately found a position as a server, held out for an internship that valued my education, and got a regular babysitting job to help support myself and begin saving. He expected a permanent higher-level position immediately and turned down a six-month, full-time paid internship. While I was at work, he would send out applications and wait for me to come home or go on adventures with friends. I was jealous of his time with our friends-and then felt selfish for feeling that way. He is now working for his family business, and I have a nine-to-five job, so we still don't see each other until night, when we are both exhausted. I feel I have lost the spark I had for him when we were in school, and I want it back.

IT'S JUST THE spark that's gone? You and your boyfriend faced the same challenge upon graduation but had radically different responses. You faced your economic reality and got very industrious. He could afford a different strategy. The disturbing part is that he didn't show an abundance of appreciation for your efforts or your lack of free time. Perhaps the missing spark really reflects a deeper concern, a new wariness about how he might respond to challenging situations in the future. Dating is a process of discovery, getting to know yourself as much as it is getting to know the other. It's wise to go slow, so you can see how your partner handles a variety of situations before you make a lifetime commitment. It usually

takes a number of experiences before one learns enough about oneself and who might be a good fit for the long haul. Your boyfriend has many qualities that you value, but the cost of enjoying them is a growing resentment about what's missing-empathy and flexibility. His refusal to accept a substantial internship because it wasn't the "perfect" solution, despite the imperfect job market, may reflect a deep-seated difference in adaptability. Perhaps you sense that his approach to life is not as flexible as the future may demand and his problem-solving style is so incompatible with yours that it may cause too much friction ahead. For most people starting out, a six-month internship is far better than unemployment and a great foot in the door of real life. …

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