All Woman

Single and not loving it

DEAR COUNSELLOR

With Wayne Powell MA Counselling Psychology Relationship Counsellor

Monday, April 07, 2014    

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Dear Counsellor,

I read your column Single (guy) and loving it, and I realised that it might be a similar situation with my boyfriend. We recently broke up because he felt that he was putting a lot of time into our relationship and not enough into the plans he had for himself. He has always been talking about his ideas but has yet to put them in action.

My concern is, does it really have to be like that for young adults? We both have our dreams and goals that we want to see materialise, but do we really have to sacrifice one for the other?

I also have some plans for myself that haven't materialised yet, and it is in fact true that I spend more time focusing on them since we broke up, but the fact of the matter is we love each other and we both want the best for each other and I personally want him to be successful.

He is looking ahead and realises that things are not in place for him right now and that he has to get them in place so he can at least be a little bit prepared for marriage and family. I think it scares him that that won't happen soon if we are at the pace we are moving now. So I understand where the writer explained that "men need to focus on building themselves up first before they can properly manage a family".

But do men really need to focus more on their careers and assets and less on relationships? Can't both partners find a common ground and grow together?

We are not looking to get into any relationship soon and he said that after he has worked things out and if we feel the same about each other, then we can give our relationship another try, but who knows what can happen?

Inasmuch as there are people who are single and loving it, there are those who are single and certainly not loving it. In your case you are a casualty of a choice between career/education and relationship. Your ex thought that being in a relationship would distract him from focusing on what mattered most to him and so he terminated the source of the distraction.

Your question as to whether both can co-exist is a relevant one. The truth is there is no yes or no answer. It really depends on the individuals involved. Where some people can multitask very well, others can't. There are some who try to juggle both ambitions and fail miserably, and it is usually the relationship that suffers.

If your partner truly believes that his career ambitions would be negatively impacted if he remains in the relationship, then as you have done, allow him to go and wish him all the best. If you were to force the issue and beg him to remain and he fails to achieve his career dreams, you are going to be blamed. And that would haunt you for a long time, even throughout marriage.

Whereas teenagers have the privilege of engaging in multiple casual relationships in a bid to discover their identities, young adults are more concerned about establishing themselves and pursuing career goals. It is at this stage of your life that you want to fortify your economic base by engaging in educational pursuits in a bid to secure a job or create your own business/employment.

A relationship demands full commitment in terms of time and effort, and both partners are expected to expend equally to ensure stability. But if there is an agreement that one partner in the relationship is studying and will have to reduce the quality time to half, then the receiving partner must give allowance and not complain unnecessarily. In other words, there must be an understanding between the partners regarding the process of engagement during that period. It is important, though, that the partner who is studying be reasonable and maintain sufficient contact and communication with his/her partner as agreed.

The matter can become a little more difficult if both partners are studying or otherwise engaged and cannot find time for each other. This is where good negotiating skills would have to be employed and concerted effort be made by both partners to create the quality time required for the survival of the relationship.

There have been success stories of couples who mutually agree to separate in order for each to focus on personal pursuits, and after three or five years they reunite and pick up where they left off. In some cases they even progress to marriage. This usually happens when one partner decides to study or work overseas.

There is no guarantee that your story will have a 'happily ever after' ending. A lot can and will transpire between then and now, including you both meeting and establishing committed relationships with other people. But as old-time people would say, "What is fi yuh cannot be unfi yuh". You can never tell; you could have a storybook ending.

Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to crisscounselloronline@gmail.com.

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