Dear Wendy: “I Have To Choose Between Grad School And My Boyfriend”

Wendy Stokesby:


I am 21 and just got accepted to grad school studying architecture after being placed on the wait-list. I have been with my boyfriend for a year and although he is supportive in me becoming an architect, he told me that if I was going to go to grad school in the fall he thinks that maybe we should go our separate ways. We both just finished our undergrad degrees and he wants to work and live together and earn some money and he thinks that me going to school will keep us in this money rut that we have been in for the last year. I do agree that our financial stability is lacking to say the least, but my goal was always to go straight to grad school after undergrad. He thinks that me choosing to go to school is abandoning our original plan of working on our finances and he fears that I will turn into one of those people who chooses their profession over their relationship. But I just can’t make the choice between him and my profession because both are equally important to me. I think that if I abandoned either of them I would always think about what could have been. How do I know what’s right? — Aspiring Architect

The only reason you can’t have both your career and your relationship is because your boyfriend is making you choose one over the other. Don’t you see how messed up that is? He obviously isn’t as supportive of you becoming an architect as you say he is if he’s suggesting you forgo a graduate program, which was difficult to even get accepted into, to “work and live together and earn money.” What does that even mean? Look, a supportive boyfriend would be congratulating you and celebrating your acceptance! He’d be proud of the investment you’re making in your future, not suggesting you throw away a great opportunity so you can goof around for a year or whatever it is he thinks you should be doing with your life instead of pursuing your goals and dreams. You’re 21; there will be plenty more boyfriends in your future — hopefully much more supportive than the one you have now. But an opportunity like the one you’ve been given may not come around again. If this guy truly wanted what was best for you, he wouldn’t be asking you to choose him over grad school. As Dan Savage would say: DTMFA!

I feel kind of silly asking this question, but it’s really been weighing on my mind. I’m a 29-year-old woman dating a 34-year-old man for the past year. Our relationship is really great, but it’s moved at a slower pace than what I’m used to. He warned me from the beginning that he tends to move slowly in relationships and has trouble discussing his feelings. He is a very genuine and caring person, and I’m sure he wouldn’t intentionally lead me on. This is my problem: About three months ago, I told him that I love him. I was basically 100% sure the feeling was mutual, so I was pretty shocked when he didn’t say it back. He said that saying “I love you” is a big commitment to him and he doesn’t take it lightly. I accepted that at face value and have tried to wait patiently. Our relationship continues to progress and get more serious, but no “I love you” yet. This eats away at me, but I was too devastated the first time to risk bringing it up again. Am I being foolish in continuing a relationship with a man who won’t tell me he loves me? Should I continue to wait? This is the best relationship I’ve ever been in, and I hate to think that my resentment will sour it.

This is a question I get all the time from readers and I wish people would just chill out when it comes to the whole “l-word” scenario. The truth is, not everyone expresses his and her feelings well verbally. Lots of people didn’t grow up saying — or hearing — “I love you” very often and it’s hard for them to suddenly say those words now. It doesn’t mean they don’t feel love, though, or that they can’t express it; it simply means they aren’t able or ready to express it in the way you might want or expect. If your boyfriend shows love to you in his actions and gestures – and I expect he does if you say your relationship “continues to progress and get more serious” — accept that as his way of telling you how he feels. If you simply cannot get past not hearing him utter those three little words, have a talk with him. Tell him you feel vulnerable having said “I love you” to him and not hearing it back for three months and that you understand if it’s a difficult thing for him to say and you definitely appreciate that it’s something he doesn’t take lightly, but for your own security you need to know he’s as committed to this relationship as you are and that his feelings are as strong as yours are for him. Maybe it will help if he says “I love you” in a different language. In that case, you can direct him to this site. I’m only halfway kidding.

Original by: Wendy Atterberry

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