Do I need a boyfriend?
QUESTION: Hey C&G,
I want a man's opinion and I want it now!
I got into a fight with a guy in my office today and I've been thinking about it ever since. Not a fight, fight but an argument.
I was in the hallway near my office talking to two of my girlfriends and a guy named DeShawn. I was telling them that I was spending the week at my parents house, which is something I like to do every few months. DeShawn asked was my house being painted or was something wrong with it. I told him no, and that I just like hanging out at home with my parents, so every few weeks I'll pack a suitcase and just chill out in my old my old room for a few nights. He knows that my parents live in the same city as I do, and he says "You've got to get a boyfriend or a goldfish." and he walked away laughing. I didn't think it was funny so I went after him and asked him what he meant. I wasn't trying to start a fight but I wanted know why he said that.
He told me that I spend too much time with my parents and my sisters and I need a boyfriend or a pet to help occupy my time. He was very mean about it and don't agree with him at all. I love my parents and I like to spend time with them. I take trips with them and I stay with them when we travel on vacation and I don't think being 38 means I should spend less time with my parents and sisters. I have two sisters and three nieces that I spend as much time as I can with as well. I love my family, and no, I don't have a man, but one has nothing to do with the other. I date a few times a month but I haen't dated seriously in three years. I didn't like what DeShawn said so I made it clear to him. So is this what other people are thinking about me? Am I in some kind of denial or DeShawn the asshole I think he is?
CHUCK: DeShawn may, in fact, be an asshole, but that doesn't make him wrong. It sounds to me as though you spend a great deal of time with your parents for someone your age. That doesn't make you wrong, either, but it's something you may want to think about.
I have never been a daughter, so I don't claim to have a great view on the special relationship between a woman and her parents. And I'm sure that your parents enjoy the times you spend with them. But is it really fulfilling for an adult to spend so much time with their parents? A lot of parents don't mind smothering their kids. They see it as their job. And they don't see their doting as something that will make you anything less than a fully functioning adult. But, as they say, all things should be done in moderation.
You seem to be torn between what you are comfortable with, and how these things are perceived. If you feel comfortable, as a 38-year-old woman, going on vacation with your parents, okay. But don't expect others to feel the same way about it. And some of those others, tactless as they are, may verbalize those feelings. How you handle those comments is up to you.
Do I think that you're wearing out your welcome with your family? Possibly. They might not be telling you to spare your feelings. Myself, I believe that ideally everyone should be a rounded individual. Maybe you reacted so strongly to DeShawn's ribbing because you wonder if you are a rounded person. Give it some thought. As for DeShawn, hide his stapler or something.
GARLAND: Thank you for your question. I think this is a very interesting issue because Chuck and I and others we know have brushed across this issue a few times in the past.
Let's see, okay - DeShawn may not necessarily be the asshole you make him out to be. An insensitive jerk - maybe, but not quite an asshole. In my opinion he was probably trying to get a laugh at your expense while giving you a bit of advice that most people are too scared to give you. I've found that most often with people, it is the sly joke that reveals the true feelings. I think this is what he was doing.
First - I can't tell you how old is too old to still be "hanging out" with your parents. But again, 99% of people I know don't use the words "hanging out" and "parents" in the same breath. Also, I've noticed this type of "single daughter" / "parent" relationship trend before and I think it's a little uh, 'interesting' to me. Son's don't typically find comfort and joy in "hanging out" with mom and dad like daughters do. Before I got married I would have never even thought about just going to mom and dads to spend a few days, or if they were going on vacation, there is no way I was going to tag along just for the sake of tagging along. That old saying "two's company - three's a crowd" is still true in my book.
Why I think DeShawn isn't an asshole is this. He probably thinks that you spend so much time with your parents and sisters is because you may be lonely and bored. Since I don't know you, I don't really have to sugarcoat it. He was trying to get a laugh I'm sure, but he figures that if you had a boyfriend, a pet, a hobby, some tight-girlfriends, or a really good set of rollerblades - you could fill up your developing second childhood with other stuff. Okay - Okay - the second childhood thing may have been harsh... my bad. But I say that because I had a very similar discussion with a friend of mine a few weeks ago and I heard that phrase and part of me wonders if it is applicable here.
Let me make myself clear: I'm glad you have a good relationship with your parents, but for any adult, regardless of being 28, 38 or 48 to spend large blocks of time spending the night, or travelling or vacationing regularly or just "hanging out" with their parents - in my book, that isn't the healthiest of things to do. I think for some [not all] people that do this, they are avoiding something or trying to replace something in their lives. At some point, the children have to cleave away from the emotional protection of their mommies and daddies and brothers and sisters and forge their own life and own identity. This is probably what DeShawn wanted, but couldn't say to you. He's a little rude, I'll give you that, but I think saying what he did may have been better than saying, "Get a life!" In the same vein, your parents and sisters AREN'T going to say, "Uh, Susie - we want to go to Miami alone this year so you find something else to do, okay."
I may be going out on a limb here, but I'll say push away from mom and dad a bit try some new stuff that isn't so tried and true. And, go buy a goldfish and drop it on DeShawn's desk and tell him, "Now all YOU need is a girlfriend."