Compromise Sucks, It's Just The Best Option - Unlikely Advisor #2

Dear Isaac,

Life comes with a whole host of unpleasant feelings, but I agree:  Boredom is uniquely frustrating. 

Life comes with a whole host of unpleasant feelings, but I agree:  Boredom is uniquely frustrating. 

My fiance has a suspended license for now so I drive him to work then I go to work. Well on days I don't work, I take him to work and sit in the car for 8-10 hours.  He works far from home, so leaving and coming back isn’t an option.  I don't have a phone so no Facebook, music, or anything. We have it set up where until 9 am (1.5 hours after he starts work) he gets the one phone we share to listen to music while he works (construction) because I take a nap. Afterwards, i get the phone because I'm stuck out here staring out a window.

We got into a fight because he wanted the phone again and I said no because IM SITTING HERE DOING NOTHING. He got mad and said "fine, always get your way". Am I being unreasonable? I know it’s stupid but we fight over it every day.

- Bored and Overheated

Dear Bored,

Well, this situation is less than ideal, isn’t it? Right off the bat, I’m going to assume that finding him another way to work, finding a closer job, and getting a second phone aren’t options.  If any of them are, you should totally do those things.  And even if you can’t right away, it should be something you’re working toward.

You both sound miserable, and I don’t blame you.  It’s a miserable situation.  But to get through it here you need to reframe the question.  Stop asking, “Am I right?” and start asking, “Is this working?”  That’s the question that really matters.  Your goal isn’t to “win” in this situation.  Both you and your fiancé have some resentment built up about this, and if one of you is “winning,” the other is losing.  A good result for one of you if you want a phone to listen to music on, a poor result if you want a good relationship.

Sit down with your fiancé to talk about this.  Not at work when he’s on break, and not on the ride to and from work.  Pick a day off, when you’re both far removed from the situation.  Let him know the phone/work transportation situation isn’t working for you, that you’re upset and you’ve noticed he’s upset.  Talk together about what would make the situation work for both of you.  Come up with an agreement that you both find acceptable, and stick to it.  If one of you finds it’s not working later on, no worries – have the conversation again.  Yeah, that’s tough and a bit awkward, but welcome to married life.  You’ll have many more situations where you need to accommodate both of you with a single decision.

Compromise isn’t easy.  By definition, it means you’re not going to get everything you want, and neither is he.  But don’t walk away from the conversation until you feel like you’re both working on the problem together.  A good marriage is about two people facing the challenges of the world; not two people facing off against each other.

It may also be time to invest in a library card to help kill the time. 

Both of these people are thinking, "WHY ARE THEY BEING NICE TO ME LIFE WOULD BE SO MUCH EASIER IF THEY WERE NOT NICE TO ME!"   Shut up, brain.  Stop trying to brain. 

Both of these people are thinking, "WHY ARE THEY BEING NICE TO ME LIFE WOULD BE SO MUCH EASIER IF THEY WERE NOT NICE TO ME!"   Shut up, brain.  Stop trying to brain. 

Dear Isaac,

About 6 months ago I told an ex I still loved him. At that time, he told me not to continue expressing those feelings. We run into each other yearly and I expect we will for several decades because of a shared interest. Sometimes he acts like he still cares (really chatty and friendly with me, acts differently with me than his friends, asks how I am), other times he’s smiling at me from across the room as he hooks up with another girl. I’ve told him his behaviour is confusing (without making reference to the obvious hookup) and asked if he wants to be friends or not. I’m waiting for a response. I’d prefer to be friends as it would make the yearly conference more pleasant. I felt like he was my soul mate when we were together, so every year I feel like my heart has been ripped open again. I was previously married to my high school sweetheart and that relationship was over 10 years in length. It was easier to get over that relationship than the one with this guy that lasted 4 months. I don’t want a relationship with him currently. He’s obviously not in a healthy place for one and I know I deserve better. I’m still not fully over him and I wonder whether I will ever be. My life is very full, but he still gets to me.

– Soulful Sap

Dear Soulful,

Well, there’s no need to “break up” your friendship.

Romance is complicated.  It comes with a whole host of implicit and explicit promises, and violating them can end the relationship.  Friendship doesn’t.  I know we’d all like to think our friendships – especially our intense and enduring ones – will stay the same forever, but they don’t.  People grow apart for a host of reasons, from loss of shared interest to changing views on the world to simple physical distance.  It’s natural and, while painful, it’s okay.

My suggestion here is to let yourselves grow apart.  You only see him once a year, right?  The rest of the year, put him out of your mind.  You don’t have to contact him.  When you see each other at your yearly conference, yes, you’ll get that twinge of nostalgia, but that’s okay too.  There’s nothing wrong with that feeling. 

Be friendly.  Hang out (or don’t) as much as you like. It’s perfectly acceptable to laugh, have a good time, have fun, and then disappear for another year.  Not every friendship needs to be an intense, frequent connection.

Don’t let his behavior confuse you:  You are friends.  That’s it.  The end.  Don’t let his flirting or nonverbal signals make you think maybe there’s more.  If he wants more, he’ll tell you directly.  Otherwise, you’re friends.  Pals.  Buddies.  That’s all.  He’s going to have other friends.  He’s going to flirt with other people, and have other hook ups.  He has no obligation to you.  If that’s not something you can accept, that’s understandable, and you should avoid him. 

My suggestion:  See him once a year.  Have a polite and fun time with this friend-who-was-once-more. Laugh off any attempts to get your attention or make you jealous.  Then spend the rest of the year thinking about something else. 

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That's all for this week!  If there's a question you want answered by The Unlikely Advisor, leave it in the comments, find me on Twitter (@isaacjourden) or Facebook, or send an e-mail to isaacjourden@gmail.com.