A letter writer feels upset when her boyfriend goes away. Is she overreacting?
Erm, kinda, says our elder. It’s important to have your own life too.
My boyfriend of six months (exclusive and very dedicated so I’m not worried about cheating) has gone out of town for a week and a half to visit his friends in another state. He didn’t ask me about the dates or how it would make me feel at all. Since he’s in school, this break is the only real free time I would have had with him other than weekends when we’re not busy. He’s been on this trip now for several days and texted me saying he might extend it another five days. He knows how painful it is for me to be away from him but he didn’t even ask my opinion. I know it’s still a bit early in the relationship so I want to know if I have any right to feel upset? I know that we’re not married so it’s not like he has to include me in his plans, but to me it seems as if he’s not really thinking at all about me when he makes these decisions. Also, any tips on how to not feel depressed like a zombie while he’s gone? Any advice on the subject would be amazing. And please be honest. Am I overstepping bounds and being clingy? Or are my feelings justified?
It sounds like your relationship with your boyfriend has gotten off to a good start, and you trust him not to cheat. That’s a good foundation on which a partnership can grow and develop. While it’s normal for you to miss him while he’s away, I would urge you not to make an issue of his visit to his friends. In my opinion, that would be overstepping.
Since your boyfriend is in school, I must assume he had nothing to say about the dates of his trip; he could only be away during the time his school had its break. While he should have mentioned his plans to visit friends to you as a matter of courtesy, he really had no obligation to clear it with you or ask for your opinion before he left. Since your relationship is only six months old, I am assuming the friends he is visiting are people he has known much longer than that. Perhaps they routinely get together when their school breaks allow, or had long-standing plans to do something together. Maybe they’ve known each other for years. Even though you have been dating for six months, in my opinion he doesn’t need your permission or approval to spend part of his break with others.
You mention that the two of you have weekends together when you aren’t busy, so you are spending time with him more regularly than his other friends are. Please don’t begrudge him time with people who are also important in his life. If you do, he likely would view your objections as overly clingy.
According to your letter, it is “painful” for you to be away from your boyfriend, and you feel “depressed like a zombie” while he is gone. While I only have what you’ve written to go on, those statements sound to me like your sole focus is your boyfriend, to the exclusion of everything else. It is unrealistic to expect him to spend every free moment with you, and it isn’t healthy for you to dwell on his absence to the extent you’ve described. While he’s gone, focus on other things—plan some activities with your own friends, do some things for fun that you normally don’t have time for, occupy yourself in some enjoyable way. When you are involved with other people doing things you enjoy, you won’t have time to dwell on your boyfriend’s absence. Once he returns you will have lots to talk about, filling each other in on what you did while you were apart. In this situation, and throughout life, it’s important for you to retain your own friends, your own interests and your own life, whether you have a boyfriend (or spouse) or not.
My advice to you is to keep busy, and welcome your boyfriend back from his trip with open arms. Ask him about his trip, and listen with interest and enthusiasm. I’m quite sure your boyfriend will be much happier to see a girlfriend who is pleased that he had an enjoyable time and who had an enjoyable time herself, to someone who is upset and begrudges his time away.
I hope you’ve found my point of view helpful. Thank you for writing to the EWC, and please write again if you feel we can help with another problem.