Georgia: Dear Carolyn, I am 21 and in my first committed relationship. My girlfriend and I have been together for about eight months and have agreed to be exclusive and to do everything we can to keep this relationship healthy and working. However, I am finding that I don't really like her that much. I love her, but I don't really enjoy being around her. Because I've never been serious with anyone before, I'm confused about my responsibilities here. Can I break up with her just because I don't like her? And if I can just break it off on the basis of the fact that she annoys me a lot, then what does it mean to be "committed" to someone anyway?
Carolyn Hax: You can break up with her because you don't like the way she looks in purple. Any reason you don't like someone is a good enough reason to break up, because people don't want to be with someone who doesn't want to be with them.
It hurts to be dumped, people never forget when it happens, they feel unwanted and angry and misunderstood and a bunch of other things nobody wants to feel, but every single one of these nasty side effects is better than being with someone who doesn't even like you. The chance to be with someone who truly, deeply appreciates them is a chance none of us has any right to deny other people.
Every day you stay with your girlfriend is another day that you limit, if not outright deny, her chance at that kind of rewarding love.
As for what commitment means, at the dating stage, it means you're seeing her and no one else. It doesn't apply in perpetuity until you marry/declare yourselves life partners--and even then, it's generally understood that people do sometimes grow apart or become victims of unforeseeable circumstance.
Overall, 2008 was a mediocre year and I'm glad to be done with it. Here is its performance review, in my book.
Aspects of 2008 that did not meet expectations:
- the hormone-and-commerce driven Sex and the City movie
- the oppressively sub-par Burn After Reading
- the good-but-not-great Wordy Shipmates
- the overlong and a little bit obvious Dark Knight
- Doubt, which, though I loved it on Broadway, didn't make nearly as much of an impact on screen
- the reunion of Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio
- the lifespan of my laptop
- the economy
- public behavior of the Jewish people, including Jack Abramoff, Bernie Madoff, and Ehud Olmert
- my ability to convince Brooklyn College's MFA program of my awesomeness
- my ability to convince a literary agent to take a chance on my awesomeness
- my ability to cope with stress (some might say "life")
- my awesome friend Tara Leigh staying in New York forever and ever
Aspects that met or exceeded expectations:
- "Wall-E!" "Eeeeeeva!"
- Home and The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
- new proto-friends
- voting behavior of American Jews (78% for Obama! not too shabby)
- voting behavior of the American people in general
- Nate Silver
That averages out to a B-, don't you think? But! 2009, I've decided, is going to be the Year of Wow. If nothing else, it's going to be a year in which I take chances because fuck it, right? Also, I'm medicated now, and those pills are going to be function an extra layer of blubber against the cold of this cold, cold world.
ETA: AND I'M GOING TO NEED IT SINCE MY ENTIRE OFFICE JUST GOT LAID OFF