Dear Dr. Gail: I am in a relationship with a wonderful man. I am 23 and he is 28. We have lived together for almost three of our five years together, and although we do have our rough patches, most of the time we get along really well. But I would like to have a singing career, and have been invited to audition for a prestigious performing company. My boyfriend asked for time to sell an investment property he owns. I agreed, because at the time (about six months ago) it seemed that it would sell right away. But he hasn’t gotten a single offer.
The audition is coming up in two months, and I’m afraid to lose this opportunity if he doesn’t sell his property. He alternately does and doesn’t seem to understand how important this opportunity is to me. At this point in our relationship, do I need to decide whether my dream or my relationship is more important? — Singing Solo
Dear Solo: It is true that sometimes one needs, or chooses, to make a sacrifice for a relationship. There are times when it’s not possible to have everything or even to meet in the middle. But this doesn’t sound like one of those times. It isn’t clear to me how your audition for this performing company and his sale of the investment property are mutually exclusive.
If this relationship is as good as you say, there is no reason you need to choose between your singing aspirations and your man. At some point, you told your boyfriend you would wait for the sale of the property. But now the clock is running out. You feel like you’re going back on your word, because you made a promise you don’t want to keep. Or maybe you were supportive of his concerns over the past six months, and now feel it is his turn to be supportive of you, despite the lack of a sale.Both of you need to understand what is going on with the other, so you can clarify your direction for the future. Can you meet in the middle?
If this is truly a big dream of yours, ask him why it is so important that the property sell before you audition. He might be using that as an excuse. Maybe he really doesn’t want a future with a performer or with someone who travels often.
It’s better to know that now as you make decisions. If he is stalling because deep down he doesn’t want you to pursue your dream, it is up to you to decide whether you want to stay with someone who holds this attitude. If he hinders your pursuit of your dream, you will likely be greatly resentful a few years from now when this opportunity has passed you by.Not everyone has the fortune even to identify what they feel really passionate about. Pursuing your dream will likely bring you great joy and satisfaction. What’s more, identitifying your life’s ambition —“I am a singer,” in your case — is extremely important.
If your boyfriend is having a problem with finances, look at the numbers together. You can think of ways to help financially or do whatever else it takes to reassure him. He might be taking a hard stance because he doesn’t think you understand his financial anxiety.
It is also unclear that this audition will lead to an invitation to join the performing company. So it sounds like there is no downside. If you don’t get beyond the audition, your boyfriend might not need to sell the property at all. You can have contingency plans depending on how things pan out. The most important question is whether each can be supportive when it comes to what matters to the other.
Dr. Gail’s bottom line: Even if a couple has individual goals, they are rarely mutually exclusive. In most cases, you can work out a plan that satisfies both people.