Are You Too Available? Create Your Own Ecosystem


Today we had a question from a 20-something who has come here for some shared wisdom before. Now she is back with a follow up. The question:

Dear 40-somethings,

About 3 years ago I came here to ask for advice on whether I should move to another state to live with my long distance boyfriend in the midst of my parents going through a trial separation, feeling like I needed to be there for my mom. I appreciated all of the advice and ended up moving down South to live with my boyfriend.

It was wonderful but at times proved to be very difficult. He works a high stress, 80 hour a week job at a Big 4 Accounting firm and he loves to work. The side effect of that is that he worked 53 hours a day even when he was home hanging out with me watching TV. That didn’t equal “quality time” to me and we argued, driving him to drink and sometimes stay out late.

I felt lonely down there at times. When he had time we had SO MUCH FUN. We went on trips, went camping, went on walks, dinners and laughed a lot! We have since moved back to our hometown, and decided to continue to relationship in different apartments around the corner from each other.  He continues to work as much as he did down South, maybe more, and since we don’t live together I see him maybe once a week. I understand there are women out there who have married men who are married to their jobs and I wonder wow these women deal with an absent partner. Are they happy? Do they just accept that as part of their life? Are the unhappy housewife you see in movies and TV? That has to stem from some sort of reality, right?  I feel like I’m not cut out for a life like that, but I love him so much. Help! 🙁

We have three answers from the 40:20 Vision panel. Our goal is always to provide a variety of opinions so you can weigh different perspectives as you decide what feels right for you. But is seems you are taking the right step to question the relationship…and you may need to start by looking inward at what you need.

Dear 20-Something,

It sounds like in order for your and your boyfriend to be happy together, you will need to make some changes.  Most workaholics I know (I am late 40s) do not change and continue to work a lot throughout their careers. You might spend more time focusing on your own career or pursuing other hobbies and friendships that will make you happy. Truthfully, his behavior may indicate he wants you to have more independence. See if having more independence will affect your relationship in a positive way and, if not, it may not be the right for you fit long-term. Personally, I am married and don’t mind that my husband works a lot since I am busy myself and the time we do have together is usually fun and fulfilling.  Not everyone is independent and that is fine, but they probably want to look for a partner whose lifestyle will be compatible. – 40-something, married, mom, Philadelphia


Dear 20-Something.

If you are someone who needs someone who is emotionally available, it is a hard line…this is not going to be the relationship for you. I don’t know the exact nature of your relationship, but if you have given him no incentive to change, bickering and nagging won’t do it. It is not going to get any better. It will only get worse. And if you do decide to take the relationship to another level and have kids, the time demands are going to be even more strained. That challenge is not going to go away. So if you need to be with someone who is more physically and emotionally present, it is not the relationship for you.

However, if you choose to stay, the most important thing you can do in a relationship like that is to have your own activities, goals and challenges because if you are always making your calendar completely available for whenever he chooses to make time, he doesn’t have to choose to make time.

If you have your own friends, your own interests, your own classes, your own business that you started, or what ever it is, he has to make an effort. If you are going out with your friends and he is like, “Do you want to do such and such?” and you have plans, he will say, “What do you mean you have plans?” You answer, “Well you are usually gone so I am creating this other system”. He then will need to make you a higher priority and schedule time and focus time. You need to create a reason for him to invest the time. Following him and making yourself available to him, having an apartment around the corner where he can just pop in — doesn’t create that need. He clearly is finding an outlet that doesn’t include you and you can’t sit and wait for him for him to drop in and out. That will be a perpetuating cycle. – 30-something, married to a frequent traveller, 2 kids

Sorry, I am a realist, but I would say run as fast as you can!  It’s hard enough being married let alone going into the marriage with a bunch of baggage already. Good luck!!! – 40-something, married, Cleveland

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