My girlfriend's refusal to commit is making me obsessed with her. How can I snap out of it?
Have a question? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters may be edited for length, content, and clarity.
Dear Miss Information,
I recently decided to completely uproot myself and move to the west coast — a dream I've had since I was three years old. I saved up money, and I made it out here a month ago.
I reconnected with an ex-girlfriend the second week I arrived, and we began hanging out once a week. I've been thinking of her for years, and we even tried to do a long-distance thing for a few months, two years ago, but it fell apart. I'm not sure why — perhaps we had different expectations about what we wanted.
At first it was good to see her, I was still high from having made it out here. Our families both privately expect us to get married and live happily ever after, and even the two of us can't imagine ever feeling the same way way about another person. She tells me she loves me and she sees us spending "the rest of our lives together and having children, etc." but then turns around and says, "I wish you'd come back into my life five years from now — I'm not ready for you."
What the hell is that supposed to mean?! She is twenty-four and I am twenty-seven. While I am not ready to get that serious, either, it translates in my mind to, "Hey, I can see spending the rest of my life with you but I've got some more fucking to do before that." I am losing my mind. Her withholding is making me feel more inclined to pursue her as my only goal, instead of pursuing my own career and projects.
I don't want to let go of her — because no other woman before or after has enthralled or impassioned or intoxicated me the way she does. But I'm losing focus on what I need to be working on. I feel like I should be able to keep her in my sights while still getting situated here. The other way to deal with it seems to simply be to end it now. Fuck.
— Skull Splitter
Dear Skull Splitter,
Ugh, I sympathize with you here. Any situation that pits "I know" against "… but I want!" is at the very least some circle of hell. It's safe to say that 95% of us have been there, and the other 5% are lying or jerks.
Pile the "West Coast! Wooo!" on one side of the balance, and "… but she's SO EFFING HOT" on the other. What comes up for you? I'm guessing it's something like this:
I'm finally here! I need to make friends. I have career growth and opportunity. Holy shit, have you seen those hiking trails?!
But her eyes sparkle… when the sun comes out… which, unfortunately, is rare on much of the West coast.
My point with this pseudo-scientific exercise is that it sounds to me like you know what you need to do. You just don't want to do it. Which is totally understandable. Even your language — "enthralled, impassioned, intoxicated" — speaks to an altered state, rather than a healthy, or even sustainable, one.
But here's the breakdown: if she's told you she's "not ready for you," that means she's not ready for you. Maybe she has more fucking to do. Maybe she really wants to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. Maybe she's not done gluing sequins onto the wall-sized mural that she'll reveal to you on your wedding night, five years from now. Her reasoning doesn't matter; what she's telling you does. As much as it sucks, and as painful as her mixed messages are, you need to trust her on this. It's her roundabout way of telling you she's not willing to invest in a relationship. As long as you keep fighting her "no"s with "I'll try harder!", it will keep feeling like you're beating your head against a wall.
The good news is that you can get out with your dignity intact. As long as you keep chasing her, she has the upper hand; she gets the ego boost, you get frustrated. Use this as an impetus to find your own footing in a new town. I'm sure you can do it — it sounds like you have a lot going on. Set your sights on your own development, and let go of this girl for awhile. Investing in your own life will yield far better returns.
Dear Miss Information,
I recently moved into a new apartment, and the walls are thin. Like, really thin. Really, really, wafer-thin. Do you get how thin I mean? Very. So okay, my roommate — who I met through Craigslist and don't know very well — has his girlfriend over every so often. And it's awful. I can tell they're trying to be quiet, since I know the last guy to live in this room talked to them about it. They play music or whisper, but they're failing — I can hear heavy breathing, occasional moans, and unmistakable slaps. It's bad. I find myself resenting them both, but not knowing what to do. They're already trying to keep a lid on it, you know? She's also moving cross-country in a month or so, so maybe I should just keep quiet. They've woken me up on more than one occasion and I feel gross and weird about it, especially since they probably think nobody has any idea that their fucking is totally out of control. What should I do?
— Through the Wall
Dear Through the Wall,
Ah, the joys of city dwelling! I suppose you've already thought of the obvious: playing music, investing in earplugs, getting a white-noise machine? How about building a pillow fort to block the sound? Anecdotally, a friend of mine who was in a similar predicament used to play what he referred to as "boner-killer music," the worst mood music he could think of, in a supremely passive-aggressive move. He settled on Chumbawumba's "Tubthumping" on repeat. It didn't stop the amorous couple, but it did make me giggle. Don't be like him, though. Aim higher.
The tricky thing here is that a) you don't know them very well, b) they're already trying to stay quiet, and c) the girlfriend is leaving soon. If you bring it up with them, it's likely to make your living situation tense and awkward. If you keep it to yourself, but build resentment, it's likely to make your living situation tense and awkward. If you take my other friend's advice, and start moaning and screaming back at them through the wall, it will definitely make things tense and awkward. So it's kind of a "choose your poison" situation.
Whatever you choose, though, keep an eye on your own resentment. You're going to have to live there regardless, so pick the option that feels most comfortable for you — whether that's a confrontation, a killer fort, a new pair of headphones, or checking off the days until his girlfriend moves. Whatever you do, don't be passive-aggressive. And if all else fails, Through the Wall, make a new friend and sleep elsewhere once in awhile.