Q: How can a couple survive a fundamental mismatch in energy levels? My boyfriend is always up early, singing and going for a run. On vacation, he wants to find an outing while I just want my tropical drink and a lounge chair. He says he loves me for who I am – and I’m happy with my physical body and so is he. But I feel sometimes like I slow him down.
A: You fear bringing him down, but I don’t see any indication that he’s actually conveying that. Are you using the fact that you’re not necessarily the Energizer Bunny as an excuse for self-shaming? Might you feel like you “should” be different more generally, and this is a way of belittling yourself?
Perhaps you’re just a normal, typical human, with a boyfriend who happens to be on the naturally caffeinated side. He can always jog while you’re on the lounge chair. Until he expresses that he feels this mismatch gets in the way, you don’t need to worry about it. Unless, of course, you can’t get past it yourself. And in that case, I wonder: Is this a red herring for a deeper incompatibility that bothers you?
Q: My girlfriend uses her period as an excuse to be belligerent to me, and she knows I can’t call her out on it. It’s not that I don’t think PMS exists, or even that she has it. It’s that I think she uses it as a get-out-of-jail-free card to be argumentative and difficult. This is obviously a delicate topic for us and I feel I am at a standstill.
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A: It’s dicey territory. From men who want to think of women as fundamentally emotionally unstable to women who may use the calendar as a self-fulfilling prophecy for dysfunctional behavior, there are all kinds of people co-opting what is instead, for some women, a true and significant medical issue.
My advice? Take her at her word, but use that word to take a different path – one that recognizes she may be suffering, and she therefore needs to try to get a medical consultation and possibly some treatment. After all, if she’s really feeling this way, she deserves to feel better. This will validate her feelings, get the symptoms some chance of improvement and also possibly smoke her out if there’s a bit of exaggeration going on. (Although you didn’t hear that from me.)