Hi, Carolyn: My boyfriend and I have lived together for two months, and have been dating for two and a half years. We’re both 26. About once a week he stays out until midnight or 1 a.m. with his friends. Often he tells me he’ll be home at x time, then x time comes and goes, and he ignores my phone calls. I lie in bed anxiously, angrily waiting for him to come home.
This is just not what I want in living with my boyfriend. We talk, he says it will change, but it’s the same. What’s the solution? – Just sleepless
There are two common reasons people say they’ll be home at x, and then don’t come home till y.
The first is bad character. There are certainly people who feel entitled to promise x just to shut someone up, and then do y as they had always intended.
The second reason is immaturity.
If you’ve been getting little signs that your boyfriend isn’t as good a person as you thought, then your next step is, obviously, to arrange the signs into a clue and end the relationship.
If instead the signs point to your boyfriend as immature, then there’s a lot you can do.
You can choose to heed his actions and not his words. If history says he goes out once a week till 1, then expect that.
You can make it easy for him to tell the truth. Say, “It’s better just to say you’ll be home at y, instead of promising x and doing y.”
You can be as transparent about your thoughts as you’d like him to be with his: “I say this wishing you wouldn’t stay out late – but I’m not your mom setting a curfew.”
Too often, couples come together with an idea of the way things should be, then “anxiously, angrily” watch as reality trumps expectations. Then, they fight.
You can avoid this trap (or, in your case, free yourselves from it) by seeing reality for what it is, deciding what is and isn’t a deal-breaker, and either building your shared life from there, or ending it.
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