Make All Decisions
Q: My girlfriend and I have been together for eight months, but we've known each other for about three years. We are best friends and lovers all at the same time. For the most part our relationship is great, except for the fact that she does nothing for me. She never comes up with ideas for us. I am the decision maker 100 percent of the time. I tried to lead her into thinking about something and talked to her about how I felt about this situation. Her reply, however, never changes. She says she's just not good at these kinds of things. I don't know what to do because this is one of my needs. I am at the point where I want to settle down. I have my career, a new apartment, car, etc. I have accomplished everything I wanted. I don't know what to do if I can't get what I need out of this relationship. -- Bill, 25
Dr. Susan: I'm having a hard time getting a clear sense of your problem, Bill. You seem to be saying that your girlfriend is a good friend and lover, but she makes you make all the decisions. Sounds like she's an old-fashioned passive girl, and you want her to be more of an equal partner. The main question I have is what you mean when you say "she does nothing" for you. Does she do a fair portion of the work and of initiating lovemaking? Does she carry on a stimulating conversation? Is she agreeable when you make suggestions of things to do, and is she honest about telling you when she'd rather not do something? Or are we talking virtually brain-dead here? If you need her to be more outgoing in the relationship, more dynamic and resourceful, then face reality. She is who she is, as she's repeatedly insisted. It may seem as though it's time for you to settle down, but having a career, apartment, and car are qualitatively different from choosing a life mate. So hold off if this relationship doesn't feel right. You could see a counselor together, or you could both think through ways in which she might be better able to meet that "need" of yours. Typically, though, what you see is what you get. Forevermore.
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Advice for Her
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.