Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: Should I be concerned if I’ve been dating someone for about seven months, and I don’t really care very much about spending Thanksgiving together? We are finding it hard to coordinate the logistics, and he seems to be hinting that he’d like me to prioritize being with him, even though that probably means neither of us would get to see our out-of-town families.
It’s a big-deal holiday for me, generally with lots of family time, and I really don’t want to forgo that just to say we spent the holiday together. I’m worried that at this point in our relationship, I SHOULD have that “as long as we’re together” feeling, but instead I’m feeling something more like resentment because he wants me to choose.
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Then choose: family. That’s what you want. Even if the choice you want is unpopular, the way to happiness isn’t through pretending to want what you think you’re supposed to want. If you SHOULD want something else, then let the people who believe that apply it to their own relationships.
“I get the sense you’d like me to choose Thanksgiving here with you over my family’s celebration. I’m not ready to do that, though – this time with my family is a big deal to me.”
Either it works or it doesn’t. Either you and he work, or you don’t.
As for whether you “should … be concerned,” you'll find out soon enough. Maybe you won’t miss him at all while you’re gone, and feel relieved to feel like yourself again without having even noticed that you weren’t; then you'll know this all was a sign you weren’t as invested as he. Maybe you'll miss him and think the whole time, “I wish X were here, he’d love this”; then you'll know this wasn’t a sign of anything except the importance of being yourself. Maybe you won’t even make it to the end of November together because he can’t let go enough to accept your honest answer. Don’t be afraid to let it play out.
Re: Thanksgiving Together: There’s also the possibility that your relationship is just fine even though you’d rather spend it with your family than with him – especially only seven months in. I come from a close family with lots of traditions; my husband always split his holidays between his divorced parents. It’s always been harder for me to go to his holidays than for him to come to mine.
Heck, I remember reading in this forum a while ago about a married couple who still didn’t spend holidays together because it was their chance to be with their families of origin. Whatever works.
Right, thank you. A life in service of “should” will always feel like someone else’s life, and therefore one that doesn’t sit right. The earlier in a relationship that you can own your priorities and communicate them clearly – and kindly – the better your chances of choosing someone who is well suited to you.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.