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September 23, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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Fixing Your Life (Because Ours Are Written Off)

G’day, mates,

I’m in a relationship. It’s great. Recently, however, my girlfriend has done pretty much nothing but work. She’s got this new job and she’s really into it, which is awesome, but I feel like we don’t even see each other any more! It’s starting to strain our relationship, because I get upset that I never see her, and then I get upset that she doesn’t seem to care, etc. Also, she works with this person that I think wants to sleep with her. How do I manage this stuff gracefully?

Early-season-three Ross

 

Hi.

Look, I’ve been there. Many have. It’s kind of a common thing—that’s why Marta Kauffman and David Crane made bank in such a big way. When you’ve been with someone for a little while, the relationship can get into a pretty cosy default setting, which resists change. Why mess with a good thing, after all? But life isn’t about staying in one place at the university age, and we need to do stuff like get great jobs and pursue new interests.

That said, being an adult means committing to working at your relationships. Nothing worthwhile comes easy. Even if you enjoy working at your relationship, that work still has to be done. Finding ways to spend extra time with your paramour is key, whether it be giving them a ride to work in the mornings, or nightly froyo sessions. It sucks, because you probably haven’t had to do this kind of change-work for a while, but hey—it keeps things fresh!

As to the idea that she doesn’t seem to care, that’s the other edge of this horrible sword of self-doubt and misplaced anguish. But I can assure you again that it’s probably not what’s really going on. You just see yourself a lot more than you see her, and don’t fully realise that she’s trying to put on a brave face so that you can enjoy your time together, and because society tells us that it’s wrong to feel bad about succeeding. Give her a chance to show you that she cares, by showing that you care. That’s pretty sound practice for any relationship issue, to be honest.

In terms of a workplace scoundrel, it sucks to hear about your partner being taken out on ‘coffee meetings’ by people you’ve never met with names like ‘Mark’. Before reaching for the fire axe, think about how much you trust them, and how they’re probably just talented enough to warrant special treatment. Or how nice it must be to find a friend in a new working environment. On the other hand, some people are just naturally seedy, and it sucks just as much to have someone like that as a co-worker (trust me, I write for Salient). Give her the benefit of the doubt.

Will put in some more jokes next week,

Hector.

—–

Hi Ross,

This is difficult. Of course you’re happy for her. But the bottom line is, she’s lucky to have you. She should really express gratitude on a daily basis, and furthermore, not take a job that doesn’t let her spend as much time with you. This isn’t even a gender issue, it’s about your love. Right?

Some couples spend more time together than others. The way in which you two used to operate has shifted. Because she was the one who more actively changed the dynamic, by taking a new job, you feel as though you’ve had no say in the matter. That’s dumb. It sounds as though your relationship is important to her, though; she is, after all, still in it.

Sometimes you go through periods, in friendships or relationships or Sea-Monkey ownership, where you are the one making more effort. I know it’s a relief when someone wants to see you as much as you want to see them, and when you both have enough time to make that happen. Look, just do some communicating. Tell her that you value the relationship and figure out how to deal with her having less time and more work stories. (Work stories are better than weed stories, but that’s for another column.)

The balance will re-establish itself eventually. Or you’ll continue to resent her and eventually break up.  As for the person that you think wants to sleep with her; well, you’ve got to consider the possibility that she’ll not respond to their advances because the two of you are in a worthwhile and exciting relationship.

This wasn’t helpful. Because circumstances change. People change. Priorities change. If you break up, there’s always the possibility that you’ll have a series of lacklustre relationships for the next seven or so years and then end up back together. And so it ends: if the sitcom writers of your life are kind, she’ll get off the plane.

Janet.

 

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