Readers’ dilemma: My boyfriend’s social life is ruining our relationship

Ralph Thompson via Flickr

My issue might seem like a stupid one, but it’s causing big problems in our relationship and I don’t know what to do. We’re both late 20s and have been together more than a year. It’s my boyfriend’s first serious relationship and we’re talking about moving in together, but he doesn’t act like he’s ready to settle down.

He’s out every night with his friends and doesn’t like staying in. I don’t go with him because I’m sick of partying – I’ve already done all that. When I ask him to come over, he tells me it’ll be “boring” and that we should have a good time while we can. I think relationships are about being together and he should be with me. Are we incompatible? Why does he need to go out all the time when he has me? It’s not like he needs to pull. How do I make him see?

Joe, via email

The Guyliner replies: You need one of those guys I always used to see on dating websites – “I like both going out and staying in.” Imagine! It sounds like you and your boyfriend, despite being the same age, are at different stages of your life. So you’re sick of partying and want your boyfriend all to yourself, cosying up in front of a DVD? Fine, but if you won’t give up your nights on the sofa to join your boyfriend on nights out, why do you expect him to give up doing the things he loves?

Having slightly different social lives doesn’t mean you’re incompatible – we’re all mismatched to some degree. My boyfriend loves watching TV, while I start to convulse at the opening bars of the Hollyoaks theme tune. Whenever he sees me getting twitchy, he jumps up quick as a flash and suggests nipping to the pub. There’s no point going out with someone who’s exactly the same as you – you learn to love and appreciate the differences and evolve as a couple. The predictable, yet right, answer is that you need to find a balance. There’s time for tripping the light fantastic and also for staying at home. Perhaps you need to make staying in a more attractive proposition. Have an assigned date night every week that’s just for you two, where you do something special together – be it a romantic dinner, trip to the cinema or an entire evening in bed. People say routine is boring, but it can actually be quite fun in a relationship – it can be something to look forward to and uniquely yours, like your very own in-joke.

Being in a couple doesn’t mean you have to totally cut yourself off from all social circles and disappear into isolation – one of the nicest things about going out partying as a couple is that you know who you’re going home with at the end of the night. Go out, show each other off, then go home. It’s a fantastic feeling.

I almost don’t want to say this, but perhaps you should also ask yourself why he’s going out so much. Has he missed out on a lot of fun for some reason? Maybe he didn’t come out that long ago? Or perhaps there’s something else in his eyeline? If you want to stay together, you need a compromise – it looks like you’ll need your dancing shoes for a while yet.

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