Dear Alma: I am 28, female and I live with my 33-year-old boyfriend. I love him tremendously, and in many ways we are very compatible. He is affectionate, has always been faithful to me and has never put me down in any way. However, we come from very different places. I grew up in a suburban town. My parents read to me as a kid, encouraged all my interests and expected me to further my education. My boyfriend was raised in a poor area by a teen, single mother and grandmother
who gave him little encouragement and never expected him to go to college. He lacks motivation and works a blue-collar job that takes little brain power. He admires driven people but lacks ambition. Despite all this, he is a kind, open-minded and intelligent individual who reads, follows the news, and has many interests. But for all his good qualities, I am surrounded by accomplished, goal-oriented people, and I am embarrassed telling many of them what he does for a living. Some friends sympathize with me; others say I am being bougie. Lately, I’ve been imagining my life without him. Should I move on and find a more “accomplished” man, or do I suck it up and try to better appreciate the one I have?—Signed, Wrong Side
Dear WS: My, my, my; what in the world, Girl? Please follow me closely as I evaluate your relationship woes. You say: He grew up with a single mom in a poor area. I’m thinking: She was working to provide for him, so she didn’t have time to read or help with homework. Thank God his grandmother was there to watch over him.
Hmm, you’re right; he is not the man for you. You say: He is affectionate, has always been faithful and has never put you down. I’m thinking: Not even when you gained a few pounds or when you came out the side of your face with some shickity, like you are now? Ahh, nope; he is not the man for you.
You say: He is intelligent, likes to read and follows the news. I’m thinking: He can comprehend the English language and form an opinion. Aww, naww; he is not the man for you. Education, I agree, is important, but college is not for everyone.
Respectfully, I’m not kidding when I say he is not the man for you. In your mind, you envision the Huxtables, so if having a degree is a deal breaker in your heart, you should stand by that. You deserve exactly what you’re looking for—and so does he. He deserves a woman who will appreciate his outstanding qualities, someone who will respect him, his work ethic and dedication to a committed relationship.
Here are some awesome qualities in a partner: The ability to listen, be encouraging, provide and show affection, hard-working, loving, faithful, trustworthy and considerate. Your guy has all those, or so you say, and still you say he’s lacking.
Obviously, in your mind, having a college degree outweighs all of his great characteristics. I can’t help but wonder why you are wasting your time. There’s a small pinch of me that understands. I’m a grammar girl. I need my mate to pronounce words correctly, and he must be able to complete a sentence. Otherwise it drives me nuts. Yep, in my case it has been a deal breaker.
If you really love this man, stand up for him, be proud of him or let him go. It sounds like he really loves you, and I think you’re lucky to have him. You need to decide if cultural status and outside appearances mean more to you than the quality of love he has to offer.
If after counting all your blessings you decide to leave, before you unplug your laptop, send me his phone number and email address. I have a beautiful goddaughter who just finished law school. She grew up in a single-parent household on the wrong side of the tracks with a loving aunt and grandmother. I’d like to introduce them.—Alma
Struggling with co-workers’ pregnancies
Dear Alma: Two of my co-workers are pregnant. I am truly, truly happy for them but I am unable to have children (and still struggle with it after 11 years). I have gone home in tears more than once. I have been careful to stay positive at work and to be supportive, though I stay out of the baby clothes and accessories conversations. I don’t plan to tell anyone about my situation, but I am having a hard time handling this. Any suggestions?—From, Childless and in pain.
Hello C&P: First, let me say how sorry I am. I normally add some flair and throw in a joke or two, but this is no laughing matter. In fact, I actually can relate to what you are going through. I could get pregnant, but I could not carry a baby to full term. It hurts deep in your heart, and you wonder why you. Then you have the friends and family members who innocently ask, “When you gonna have a baby?”
I don’t have the answer, but I do suspect from our letter that you have a lot of love in your heart. Don’t waste it. Cry when you want to cry, but also find ways to redirect your emotions, your mind and your time.
Are you a godmother? Are there children in your family who could use some extra attention? You can volunteer to work with children at a church or a local Boys and Girls Club. What about becoming a Girl Scouts leader? Have you considered becoming a part-time foster parent? Take it slowly and figure out a balance that feels right for you. Many of us think it’s important to have a child physically, but until that happens, or even if that never happens, you can give your time to a child who is already here.
Go on, girl; you can do it. Release the love you’re holding inside. There’s a child waiting to receive it. I’ve got a feeling you will change many lives for the better.—Alma
Alma Gill’s newsroom experience spans over 25 years, including various roles at USA Today, Newsday and the Washington Post. Email questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook at “Ask Alma” and twitter @almaaskalma.