Should I feel hurt that my boyfriend may be going on a trip without me?
May 12, 2013 9:47 PM   Subscribe

I want to ask him if he's going but don't want to seem pushy about it.

We have been dating for almost a year and a half, with a 3-month break last year. We are both adults, and he's about 20 years my senior.

Last year, after we had been dating for six months, he told me in June that he was going to Colorado to a jazz festival in August on a Thurday through Monday. His younger brother has a second home there. He said his brother is kind of aloof, and something to the idea that if he had invited him, the invitation was just for him. I'll admit that it stung, but I also kind of thought, "Well, we've only been dating for six months." In July, before he went, we split--for other reasons. We ended up getting back together in November.

He's very good to me in many ways. He takes me to nice places and always pays. We spend every weekend together, from Friday evening until Sunday, usually mid-afternoon, when he goes in to his law office to do some work and get ready for Monday. I have met his parents, with whom I seem to share a good bond, his sister, and his three adult children, who seem to like me as well. I have had dinner with all of them many times. And recently, I met the "aloof" brother, who was nice to me also, and had dinner with the whole family.

However, my boyfriend highly compartmentalizes his life. He says that's the way he gets through life. I have a feeling he is planning to go to the jazz festival again this year but hasn't said anything to me.

I don't want to be attached at the hip and do not feel like we must do everything together, but we both love to travel and both love jazz. I guess I'll be more hurt this time around, versus last year, because I feel like this time around, we are in a pretty committed relationship, and if I'm important to him, he would want me to go with him on the trip to share that experience with him, and he would be willing to express that desire to his brother. I guess it makes me question his level of commitment to the relationship and where it may or may not be going.

(By the way, my understanding is that it's not just a "guy" trip. His brother is married, and I think his wife may go. I know that my boyfriend's daughter has been before.)
posted by femmefatale123 to Human Relations (55 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You're setting him up for failure by not telling him your expectations. "I realized that jazz festival you went to last year is coming up. I'd love to go with you, or is it more of a 'brother's trip'?" And see what he says. Talk about it. If you want to go on a trip, but this doesn't have to be the one, then you should suggest that (and maybe a destination), too.
posted by juliplease at 9:50 PM on May 12, 2013 [24 favorites]

"I would like to go to this jazz festival, too."

[possible reply from him] "Well, it's going to be just my brother and me, this time, like last year."

You reply: "That's what I thought, and that's why I'm making my own arrangements to be there. Maybe I'll see you guys!"

Then be ready to back up your words with your own plane ticket. After all, you are a jazz fan, too.
posted by BostonTerrier at 10:06 PM on May 12, 2013 [5 favorites]

Just a few thoughts.

1. There are a lot of questions on AskMe of the form "is it okay to expect X?". Unless you are wildly outside healthy norms as a person, the answer is almost always yes. The details rarely matter. You are allowed to want what you want from a relationship. So yes, it's okay that you want to go with him and would feel hurt if he did not include you.

2. Related point. You give a lot of details that seem to make you feel it's not okay to want (or ask for) what you want. He takes care of you, he pays for stuff, he needs to compartmentalize, he's a Very Important Man. It just seems like you are prioritizing his needs over your own and maaaaaybe he's kinda sorta encouraging that situation in small ways. I would just watch out for that and it is not an uncommon dynamic when one person is much older than the other.

So, yes, it's okay to want to be included. It's okay to want what you want. Talk to him about it and tell him what's on your mind. Something like, "Hey, I remember that trip you took last year and just wondering if you're going to be doing that again. If so, I'd really like to go with you. How do you feel about that?"

At this point he either says yes (yay for being assertive!), no (still okay, but you are entitled to talk about why and express your disappointment), or gets upset at you for asking (not okay, big red flag, run away).
posted by annekate at 10:07 PM on May 12, 2013 [31 favorites]

It sounds like the younger brother does the inviting, and like it's a family thing. I am not sure there's anything there to merit being hurt - even if he wants you to share the experience, it's not his decision who's invited to his brother and sister-in-law's house.
I'm not sure he's the one who's compartmentalizing, necessarily. If his brother doesn't consider the time you've been dating and the time he (the brother) has known you as enough to count you as family, I don't think putting pressure on your boyfriend is going to help.
posted by gingerest at 10:16 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

my understanding is that it's not just a "guy" trip.

That's sort of key, and it sounds like you don't know quite enough in this regard. His brother's wife may go, but would she spend time with them or go off and do her own thing? If you're talking about Telluride, for instance...God, that's a beautiful area and I'd go along on a trip to an opera festival just so I could escape and enjoy the scenery. (I hate opera.)

I'm a jazz person. You know it's kind of insular. It does seem weird to me that anybody who's in a long-term romantic relationship sharing love for both travel and jazz would plan a trip to a major festival without including his partner. But there could be a hundred different explanations that I can't know, exactly like, "It's usually been me and my brother, we hang out, it's our time together."

The bottom line is that you can ask without seeming pushy, and that's what you should do. To the extent your question is just looking for some reassurance that you're not being nuts or needy, my answer based on your post is no. I think you should ask.
posted by cribcage at 10:18 PM on May 12, 2013

Wait, so your boyfriend hasn't even announced his intention to go to this festival again this year? Let alone saying anything about whether you would be invited or not?

You are making up stuff to be worried about.

If you must, just ask him about it. Or, hell, just ask him if you can go. Something like, "Hey, are you thinking of going back to that jazz festival again this summer? Because I've been thinking about it, and I would love to come along. I've always wanted to see [person on lineup]..." would be perfectly appropriate.

That said, it sounds like you are pretty financially dependent on this guy in order to be able to afford to hang out with him. I think that if you couldn't afford to go to the jazz festival on your own dime, it would be presumptuous to invite yourself along. Usually when couples travel together, it's with the assumption that each person pays their own way, or at least can afford to go.
posted by Sara C. at 10:22 PM on May 12, 2013 [20 favorites]

Opposing view here.

I think it's ridiculous that you feel you need to go on this trip. If it's a family thing, you need to give him space. He spends EVERY weekend with you and you've met his family. Please back off.

I feel like this time around, we are in a pretty committed relationship, and if I'm important to him, he would want me to go with him on the trip to share that experience with him,

I'm sorry. I find this very weak reasoning. You're only alerted to this festival because he went last year. You're hoping he wants you to "share that experience with him" when he's invited you into his life in so many ways. Be happy with that. Members of couples deserve their space and their opportunity to take trips without each other.

You seem really unreasonably clingy here and I urge you not to make this an issue.
posted by Unified Theory at 10:45 PM on May 12, 2013 [24 favorites]

If you have been in a relationship for a year and a half and can't say "Hey that jazz festival you went to last year sounded awesome, are you going this year? If you are, I'd love to come" then your relationship has much larger problems than a jazz festival.
posted by grapesaresour at 11:16 PM on May 12, 2013 [56 favorites]

You have every right to be hurt, I would be too. As was implied above, different people have very different needs and expectations about what being in a committed 18 month relationship means and how that impacts plans and the future and such. If at this point he is very casually making big, multi-day plans, for fun shit and not even bringing it up with you, well, this might not be the kind of relationship you are after.
posted by stormygrey at 11:26 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mod note: A couple of comments deleted; please address the question, and don't argue with other commenters.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:32 PM on May 12, 2013

My random-askmefi-reader reading of this is that really we don't have enough insight into your personality or the dynamics of your relationship to really say either way. You might be too clingy, or this might be red flags. I personally think annekate nailed it with her very wise response, but Unified Theory makes very good points too. Perhaps knowing why you had a 3-month hiatus would tip the balance?
posted by StrawberryPie at 11:46 PM on May 12, 2013

I feel like this time around, we are in a pretty committed relationship, and if I'm important to him, he would want me to go with him on the trip to share that experience with him

This seems really needy and insecure and is not something I would find attractive in a partner. People who are in relationships have not undertaken a Vulcan mind meld. It sounds like you have ample evidence of progression in your relationship and you should be gracious about his desire to do things without you.

Other people have given different answers in this thread. Therefore, there is no single answer to question "Should I feel hurt my boyfriend may be going on a trip without me?" I would urge you not to only see the answers that flatter your own preference, but to understand that there is only how you actually feel.

My advice would be to not play games and to ask for what you need: "I understand you may go to Colorado this year again, and while that's fine and I want you to enjoy yourself, I'm feeling insecure that you don't want me to go with you and I need you to reassure me."
posted by DarlingBri at 11:50 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Let him know that you'd love to go if he's going this year, but that if he wants to have some brother-brother time without you along to let you know ASAP because you're going to plan something else for that weekend, and do so.

If you spend every weekend together, I don't think it's unreasonable to want to know if he's going to be out of town so that you can make your own plans in advance. That's how you should approach this.

if I'm important to him, he would want me to go with him on the trip to share that experience with him, and he would be willing to express that desire to his brother

There can be a different dynamic between two siblings than a bigger group of relatives, if they have a tradition of just the two of them getting together it would be a huge imposition to demand to be included in everything. You say you spend every weekend together but don't want to feel attached at the hip -- thinking he's not committed because he wants to spend a single weekend, just 2% of the total weekends in a year, with someone he's known his entire life is the very antithesis of that.
posted by yohko at 11:55 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think the suggestion of "going on your own" is terrible and very passive aggressive. For example when you guys see each other will you ignore him cause you are doing "your own thing"? Ask him about going but it seems totally reasonable for him to want to do this on his own or as a family thing. You may feel that you ate becoming family to him but at a year and a half you are not family to his brother et al.
posted by saradarlin at 12:04 AM on May 13, 2013 [12 favorites]

This is a communication thing, really. If you're hurt, you're hurt: there's no right or wrong about that. It's how you deal with it that counts.

After a year, you need to be able to ask him about this. Make it low-pressure. Something like, 'Hey, that jazz festival sounded awesome last year. Are you going again? I'd love to come along, but I understand if it's a family thing with your brother or whatever'.

I'm guilty of being 'too scared' to ask for what I want in relationships, and it never ends well. Just ask him, like you'd ask a friend. Which is what he is (plus more).
posted by Salamander at 12:06 AM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

Especially if you haven't met his brother, you really can't know why he might decide not to invite you to join him on this trip (which may or may not occur, with or without an invitation--you really don't know at all for sure whether this is even going to be an issue). But there are many explanations for him not wanting to bring you along that make perfect sense to me. For example, he may be trying to protect you from his brother or sister-in-law if these are people whose behaviors he is embarrassed about or is worried that you will be offended by and/or he may not want you to see him interact with his sibling and thus reveal a bit of himself that he's not ready to share with you. No matter what the explanation might be, if you want to know, you need to ask.

That said, I just read your other question from last year, presumably about the same guy right before you got back together, and putting this question into context with what you told us then, I think that you need to ask yourself what else is going on in your relationship that is making you feel hurt about this potential perceived slight.

It seems like there may be other things going on right now but the only thing you can identify clearly that is troubling you is this possibility of being left behind on the Colorado trip. If everything were secure and strong in your relationship, would you be worried about the possibility of this problem that hasn't even happened yet?
posted by gubenuj at 12:29 AM on May 13, 2013

Everyone needs a break sometimes. Give him his break. No, you should not feel hurt. He doesn't owe you every second of his time. He is allowed to have interests that are separate from you, even if they are things that interest you also. You should also have interests that are separate from him.
posted by myselfasme at 12:39 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think maybe you should just tell him you have a lot of ambivalent feelings about him going on the trip and share all of the them with him:
- he has a right to do things without you
- you are a bit hurt he didn't invite you
- you don't want to be smothering - you guys "don't need to be attached at the hip"
- you like jazz
- you like travel
- you understood last year, but now you are together 1.5 years
- whatever else you are thinking.
posted by jazh at 1:23 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm actually fairly strongly with unified theory here.

How often does he go out and do stuff on his own? Equally importantly, how often do you go out and do stuff on your own?

What i'm trying to establish here, and frame this as, is pretty much how attached at the hip are you in practice.

From your explanation, it sounds like he works all week and then spends pretty much all of his weekend off with you every weekend. This may be sustainable for a few people, but pretty much everyone i know needs a break that is both their time off, and not couple time to go out and do things with their friends, family, or even just on their own.

I have been the guy in many similar situations to this. I live with my partner now, but ran in to it beforehand as well. Many times i've tried to plan some trip, or even just a small get together near my house with friends and had it flip around to well... the whole "why didn't you invite me?" shtick. I am somehow a magnet for relationships that end up painted in to this corner.

What's wrong with him wanting to go out and do stuff with his brother, and how does it change it that much if his brothers wife is there? He wants to go out and do something on his own(potentially, you don't even know for sure yet, i'm just driving down this hypothetical road you laid out), or rather, without you.

Presenting it that way just seems like you're trying to bolster up justification in your mind for their being some concrete reason why it's not ok, a prepared argument to use against him if he tries to say he wants to do this without you.

It really seems like you're just trying to come up with a rational sounding explanation for why you're entitled to go on this trip. I'll go ahead and say it, there really isn't one. He isn't being a shitty partner if he wants to go do something like this on his own when he spends all of his time off with you on a regular basis.

The entire post kinda reads like "i know he has a right to do things without me, but here's why i don't actually believe that and am i'm trying to cogitate my way around that brick wall i've constructed, and come up with something that technically follows that statement possibly in rule but not in statement, and if not gives me deniability". The "what if i go separately and happen to run in to him!" thing is a great demonstration of this.

I also think it's a bit disturbing the amount of sherlock holmes-esque sleuthing and assumptions you're making here are a bit disturbing. "So he did this last year, he's probably doing it this year.. hmm, he's probably doing it like this, and then there's this and this and this..." It's actually almost a bit creepy. Talk to him, jesus.

Nthing darlingbri that this is unattractive behavior. I also feel like several people would probably be saying you sounded pretty creepy for some stuff like the aforementioned plan to go separately and "run in to them by chance possibly" if you were a man, but that's a whole other bag of hurt. It trips my creep-o-meter though, as does most false "chance encounter" stuff.
posted by emptythought at 1:30 AM on May 13, 2013 [5 favorites]

I have a feeling he is planning to go to the jazz festival again this year but hasn't said anything to me.

This AskMe question is premature. Just ask him - in whatever way you are comfortable with. If there is a problem with the answer, then there may be a more solid issue to deal with.
posted by Wordshore at 1:38 AM on May 13, 2013

Arrange to go on a trip to a jazz festival somewhere else, just you and him. If that idea doesn't scratch your itch, this is about something other than going on a trip to a jazz festival with him.

It sounds like you want him to show you that you're a big part of his life, which is a perfectly OK thing to want. But there are other ways for him to do that than take you on this specific trip to this specific festival.
posted by Solomon at 1:49 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yeah, just ask him if he's planning to go --- at this point, you're **inventing** something to be upset about. ASK him if he's going, and if he is, ask if you can go too (paying for yourself, of course). And if you DO go, don't assume you too might be staying in the brother's house: whether BF stays there or in a hotel, assume YOU would be staying in a hotel.

BUT: be aware that inviting yourself to tag along like this comes across as pretty clingy. It sounds like the trip is partly for the jazz festival, and partly a family get-together for the two brothers: sure, Brother's wife is there (it's her house, after all!), but you have no way of knowing how much time the two guys like to just spend one-on-one. All of which would mean you'd be spending time alone in your hotel or tagging along like a fifth wheel.
posted by easily confused at 2:35 AM on May 13, 2013

However, I do feel compelled to say that this:

He's very good to me in many ways. He takes me to nice places and always pays. We spend every weekend together, from Friday evening until Sunday...I have met his parents, with whom I seem to share a good bond, his sister, and his three adult children, who seem to like me as well. I have had dinner with all of them many times. And recently, I met the "aloof" brother, who was nice to me also, and had dinner with the whole family.

would seem like a LOT of togetherness, to me. Like, I'd be overjoyed if my relationship was progressing that well (and actually, I'd be needing some space). So I really wouldn't make the jazz thing my hill to die on, if I were you.
posted by Salamander at 3:25 AM on May 13, 2013

I agree with Unified Theory's advice but not his tone - you are not unreasonably clingy, ridiculous, or suffering from weak reasoning. That said, letting your partner take this trip alone sounds like a great chance to let him have some personal friend/family time, and I bet you could find some things to do on your own that will keep you entertained until he returns. Plus, you could always propose a separate trip for just the two of you, to another jazz festival or any other activity you might enjoy.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:23 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Your title is interesting: "Should I feel hurt...?"

You don't need anyone's permission to feel anything. Feelings are feelings. You clearly do feel hurt, and that is ok. You don't have (or need) this stranger's permission to feel hurt about this trip - but you do have my permission to have any feeling that you have about anything.

It's what you do with feelings that matters. There's lots of good advice here, and it mostly boils down to "talk to your boyfriend" - advice I echo. You have permission to need things from this (or any) relationship - just make those needs known in a kind, respectful way, keeping in mind that other parties have needs too (e.g. "This jazz weekend is something I do with my brother and whoever he brings along; I don't want to or don't feel comfortable inviting you.")

Some people say you are being needy and this is unattractive. That you get plenty of time with him already, and if they were in his shoes this would come off horribly wrong and clingy.

So what? If being yourself - that is, communicating your needs in a respectful, honest way, while being open to hearing another's needs and being willing to understand and likely accommodate them - is not OK, then do you really want this boyfriend to become your life partner?

It's ok to want and need things and to have feelings. You don't need anyone's permission. The real question I might be asking, were I you, is "Why do I feel like it is not ok for me to feel bummed that I wasn't invited on this trip, even if there are perfectly logical reasons that he didn't invite me along, if he is even attending again this year? And what can I do about both feeling like I need permission to have feelings, and about feeling bummed in this specific instance?"
posted by k8lin at 4:49 AM on May 13, 2013 [6 favorites]

I think you need to just ask him if he's going first, then if he is and didn't bother to mention it to you or invite you I think I would be hurt too! You say this guy is 20 years your senior and has adult children, so why it's clear thath he is older than you it is not clear how old you are. If you are at a point in your life where you want to "settle down" with someone and start a family, this may not be your guy as he's already done that and may just want a fun and superflexible relationship that he can tap into as needed. That probably won't be enough for you if you are looking to establish a family of your own. If you are older / past thath point/ not interested in that, you can ignore that piece of advice though.
posted by WeekendJen at 5:37 AM on May 13, 2013

1) if you feel hurt, you feel hyrt. Your emotions don't need to be reasonable. Only your actions need to be reasonable.

2) whenever I want to talk to my sweetie about something that I don't want to talk to him about for fear of x, I preface the conversation with that. As in "honey, i'd like to talk to you about something for a minute, and I'm afraid that I'm going to seem pushy, but it matters to me. Is this a good time?" Then he's prepared and he has the option to say no if he's in a bad mood or something, and we could arrange to talk about it later. And he understands that I'm not trying to be alienating. And then I go ahead and tell him what I feel. So in your situation I would probably say "I feel afraid that you don't want to bring me to the jazz festival this year. Am I rifht about that?", and see where the conversation goes.
posted by windykites at 5:47 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Here's the thing. I'm the biggest person in the world for trying to get everyone together for everything. I love getting a cabin and inviting all of my friends to come hang out there.

BUT. There are certain people that I know just won't mesh well together. I have to enjoy them separately. Now, is it important that I articulate to Lisa that I don't think that she and Eloise will get along? No. I'll just make separate plans with each and that should be that.

It's a bit more awkward when the two people who won't mesh are a family member and an SO. Your boyfriend has already said that his brother is aloof. That may mean that he's stranger adverse, or that he's an asshole, or whatever. Have you spent any time with the brother? If not, trust that your boyfriend is a good judge of the situation. He doesn't think that you or his brother would hit it off. And that's okay.

He's allowed to spend time with his brother, without worrying about how things are going, or if your feelings are hurt by his brother's behavior. He just wants to see his sibling and listen to jazz.

Let this one go. In the grand scheme of things, it's not a hill to die on.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:10 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

This question does not seem to be about the jazz festival and if that is the case it could be a very bad battleground for you to deal with personal space/commitment/relationship progress issues.

Do you want to go because he has shared stories of his experiences from 2012 (and earlier?) with you and it specifically sounds fun or because it will mean you are a serious couple that does major things together? (All of my questions are rhetorical; I am not looking for answers). If the former then that would be one way to bring it up, "that jazz fest sounds great! I'd really like to go this year, and I think I can take the time off...", if the latter then it seems clear that this is not something he is ready to share with you.

I know a lot of music festival people and some of them are quite protective of their festivals. Going to a large multi-day, multi-stage event with a significant other can be a very different experience than going alone. If you do end up going with him will you want to stand/sit but his side the entire time, have him stop and eat when you are hungry, leave and go back to lodging when you are tired? This has nothing to do with you, specifically, but with you being a different, additional person and no matter how independent you hope to be you will become his responsibility (in the same way that he becomes yours).

I have gone to a music festival with a clingy acquaintance and it was annoying; it would have been worse but because we weren't close I didn't feel bad about going off on my own. I had a friend have to leave at 4 pm and miss most of the festival including artists she had been looking forward to for years because her friend sprained an ankle. One year I went with a friend and he was the first one in and last one out each day and the following year his wife went and he was going in late and leaving several hours early. It doesn't necessarily mean he was having a worse time but it's a very different experience. (I have also had a great time with a significant other and seen many couples that do festivals together wonderfully, many different ways).

That may be some of what may be going on, in addition to the fact that this trip was An Issue a year ago.
posted by mountmccabe at 6:13 AM on May 13, 2013 [4 favorites]

Yeah, I think you've got the cart ahead of the horse here, since you don't know whether he's going and you don't know whether he wasn't going to tell you, or was going to tell you and not invite you, or was going to tell you and invite you, or what.

As others have said, you have a right to your feelings, but what I do think is unfair is extrapolating from your feelings to what it means when he doesn't do what you want him to do. "In a relationship, it's important to me to be included in trips like this" is fine; "if he doesn't invite me, it means I'm not actually important to him" is unfair, because that's you ascribing to him your own sense of what it means to be important to people.

Speaking solely for myself, I spend time with my sister and her family, but we also spend time together one-on-one, and that means something to both of us and has nothing to do with how much either of us cares about anybody else. I think if you hate this and it isn't the way you want a relationship to run, that's okay, but understand that that's what you're doing, and don't tell yourself it's because this reveals that he doesn't really care about you or isn't committed.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 6:53 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I agree with mountmccabe that this doesn't seem to really be about the jazz festival. This is a question of clearly communicating your wants and needs to your partner (togetherness, reassurance that your relationship is growing, shared experiences), and talking together about how to balance those wants and needs with his own (alone time, independent experiences). Wanting what you want doesn't make you clingy, just like wanting what he wants doesn't make him uncaring.

I have to tell you, figuring out how to hammer this essential balancing act together in a way that satisfies both parties is one of the bedrock elements of a happy and healthy relationship. Feeling out boundaries and saying you need more of less or something is not easy, but it is necessary. This is a good opportunity to be a grown-up and get the conversation started. Other posters have made great suggstions for low-drama, constructive ways to do that.
posted by anonnymoose at 7:22 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

As you can see, some people say "it is totally understandable that you'd be hurt by him making plans that don't include you" and some people say "it's needy and demanding for you to expect to be included." In a perfect world, the former people would pair off with each other, and the latter with the latter. It doesn't always work out this way. Maybe your reaction is the due to the realization that you and your boyfriend have subtle differences in your expectations for alone time.

I don't think any external frame of reference is going to provide you with an absolute answer, because relationship dynamics are a function of the expectations of the two individuals. Many things that you or I might find bizarre would be considered "normal" within another relationship because they've been successfully negotiated between the people involved.

And that's the key: negotiation. This is a meaningful issue for you, so you need to bring it up, suss out each other's position, communicate, look for a common solution or decide what degree of imperfection you're willing to live with (HINT: learn to live with some, but decide for yourself what really matters to you).
posted by itstheclamsname at 7:27 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

Is there an underlying theme of I wish I were more central to his life and I want more from this relationship than he does? If you want more, you should ask for more, otherwise you may very well be in the same situation 5 years from now.
posted by theora55 at 7:29 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

Just wanted to pop back in and explain the reasoning behind my answer a bit more, as some people took issue with my tone which was probably unduly harsh.

I think it's a really healthy thing for members of couples to do some important things alone. It can be oppressive to feel that you have to invite your SO on every adventure. It's nice to have a trip alone, with a friend, or with a family member once in a while.

For him to have to invite you on every trip, is to risk him feeling smothered or like his whole life revolves around the relationship. Sometimes, when you go to an important event with an SO, it becomes more about the SO than it is about enjoying the event. He may feel that his enjoyment of the event would be diminished by having you there, especially since the two of you are so close. He may not want his enjoyment lessened by a lovey-dovey "isn't it great that we're doing this together?!?!" vibe that may happen if it's the two of you there. He may not want that togetherness/romance/couple vibe. He may just want to listen to the music and not feel responsible for your good time.

I think this is completely healthy and fair. Aside from the fact that you've jumped the gun, IF he decides to go without you, I think it's important to respect that.

And I also don't really see this as an issue to be solved with more communication from you. For you to tell him you want to go places him in an uncomfortable and untenable position. If he invites you, he invites you, and that's great. But there's precedent for him going just with his brother, and I think it makes sense to respect that and step back so as not to be suffocating. To preemptively ask to be included would, to my mind, make it appear that you have been brooding over the fact that he went without you last year and that you resent that display of independence. I may be off-base with that, but I really think you could give that impression and I think it would be very unflattering, unattractive (as desjardins noted), and bad for the relationship.
posted by Unified Theory at 8:00 AM on May 13, 2013

I'm with Ruthless Bunny. I go on things with my sisters now and then. Our partners/spouses mostly do not come along or if they do, they stay in the background. Things are complicated enough in our family and it seems to work out best to get some time in together without worrying if someone I have brought along is having fun. Or worse, getting their feelings hurt, which often happens thanks to my stepfamily, some of whom are just jerks.
posted by BibiRose at 8:09 AM on May 13, 2013

Of course you can feel hurt about anything you want, but it seems like a huge waste of energy and ill will to feel hurt about something that may not happen, may have subtleties of which you are not aware, and which you won't even ask about.

Being hurt because another person isn't psychic is never helpful.

There is nothing wrong with asking if he's going again. If he is, there are ways to politely ask if it's something you'd be able to participate in. It's entirely possible that no, as far as he's concerned that's not going to work. If so, you can be hurt about that, or you can decide that it's about him and not you.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:36 AM on May 13, 2013

...and if I'm important to him, he would want me to go with him on the trip to share that experience with him, and he would be willing to express that desire to his brother. I guess it makes me question his level of commitment to the relationship and where it may or may not be going.

I am going to guess there's more than just this one trip that is making you question his level of commitment to the relationship and where it is going. You say your boyfriend has told you he highly compartmentalizes his life--which I am assuming this jazz festival is something he keeps in a separate compartment from girlfriend time.

You are making a lot of assumptions about how he feels about the relationship based on something you are assuming he is going to do and has not done yet. Your assumption that if he isn't inviting you on this time he isn't committed to the relationship suggest that you are not okay dating someone who compartmentalizes his life--maybe that is something you need to think about.

Another thing to consider is that it sounds like he is staying at his brother's house, not at a hotel. I do think bringing a significant other along on a trip to stay with family is pretty different than staying in a hotel. He's brought his daughter along before, who also got to spend time visiting with her aunt and uncle. You've met the aloof brother, and got along, but that's really different than sleeping in his house for 5 days and sharing a bathroom and stuff.
posted by inertia at 8:51 AM on May 13, 2013

When you guys got back together after your hiatus, did you resolve the reasons for the split? I wonder if this is less about the jazz festival and more about your fears that the relationship isn't on solid ground, especially since the last split happened this time last year?
posted by Asparagus at 8:53 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

Looked at in a vacuum, this question reads like a case of you needing to communicate more and him needing to get some space. Looked at in conjunction with your previous question about this guy (as others have noted), it seems much more like a case of you sensing that he is just not that into you, and you know it, and so you're focusing in on the jazz festival.

You seem like someone who doesn't know her own worth, and isn't sure she has a right to her own feelings, and who is working hard to convince herself that her relationship is more than it is. This dude is only interested in casual fun and doesn't seem interested in taking things to a more committed level. There are droves of older men out there tomcatting around, telling their galpals that they are too hurt to commit again, "I'm scared of how strong my feelings are for you, so I need to bail," etc., etc. You almost seem to be saying he must love you because he stated that he does, yet your gut tells you he doesn't, so you're looking to him and to us for reassurance.

It was so painful to read your defensive reactions when people pointed this out to you before. You should go back and read those comments again, and approach them with a completely open mind -- be open to the possibility that what they were saying is right, and see if any of that fits with where your relationship is at with him now. He told you last time exactly what the deal was -- he enjoyed having sex with you and spending time with you, but he wasn't in love with you and could tell you wanted more commitment than he did. Believe him. You deserve better.
posted by ravioli at 9:00 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh, yeah, in the context of your previous question-- you deserve to be in a more equal relationship. This guy has been jerking you around. One thing he said back then made my jaw drop, although I will not quote it because you don't need all that stuff dredged up. But really, this one trip is a red herring. Unless this relationship is fun for you on a weekend-to-weekend basis, you are wasting your time. Date other people.
posted by BibiRose at 9:19 AM on May 13, 2013

Do you want to go to the jazz festival or do you just want to go to x trip with your boyfriend?

If you want to go to the jazz festival, and will be hurt if he goes without you because you'd really love to go to the jazz festival, ask him if you two can go to the jazz festival. Make plans with him to do it.

If you really want to go just because he's going on a trip and you feel excluded, maybe think about why it bothers you so much if he goes without you. I like to do things alone with my brother, too, without having to worry about my partner. My brother and I have a very weird and often exclusionary dynamic that is loads of fun for us but not much fun for anyone else (I know you said other people had been invited in the past but you don't know why or whether that worked well). Especially if he doesn't see his brother much he might want to have that time for his brother.

I don't think it's wrong or bad if he does this without you, though if he makes the plans without telling you about them or asking if you might want to come along (or just explaining why he isn't asking you along) then that would be a bit too compartmentaliz-y for me. I don't need to be included in everything my partner does but I do expect to know what's going on with him. Sounds like you do too. But it's okay with you to be more direct with him and it's okay to ask for what you want/need and it's okay to leave if you aren't getting that.
posted by Polychrome at 9:20 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Maybe my question does boil down to the essence of our relationship.

It’s confusing because some of you say things like the following that make it sound like the relationship is on solid ground: “I'd be overjoyed if my relationship was progressing that well…” (Re: spending time together and meeting his parents and kids) OR “He may feel that his enjoyment of the event would be diminished by having you there, especially since the two of you are so close.”

Then others say things such as the following that make the relationship sound one-sided: “You seem like someone who doesn't know her own worth, and isn't sure she has a right to her own feelings, and who is working hard to convince herself that her relationship is more than it is. This dude is only interested in casual fun and doesn't seem interested in taking things to a more committed level.” OR “You deserve to be in a more equal relationship. This guy has been jerking you around.”

I guess the only way to find out is to sit down with him and have an open, honest conversation about our relationship and what each of us wants out of it, what our expectations are. Doing that is not something I find easy, even though it’s necessary. I guess it’s not easy for anyone.
posted by femmefatale123 at 12:14 PM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

I guess it’s not easy for anyone.
It isn't. And just remember where you are in this relationship — lots of together time, meeting the family, 1+ years in — is a tough time for anyone because the honeymoon is expiring and it's time for both parties to see if they are ready and willing to meet each other in their needs. It involves a lot of talking and sometimes uncomfortable moments, but the good relationships do survive this stage and in fact are much stronger for it. Good luck!
posted by annekate at 1:15 PM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

We don't know you, or your boyfriend, or live in your brain, or have access to any information but what you've given us. So people are reading into the nature of your relationship based on god knows what.

I think you should have an open and honest conversation about what each of you wants out of the relationship if it's what you want to do, but honestly, if my partner did this based on insecurity about whether I was going to take a weekend trip without her, red flags would be flying up everywhere.
posted by Sara C. at 1:54 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oddly, vacations have been an epic Issue for my husband and I over the years, with me getting upset every time he chose to take one with someone else instead of me.

And then I realized that this was just generally a Thing in my family--my mother gets annoyed that my aunt goes on vacation with her fiance instead of her, for example. And yet my mother has never once come out and said "I'd like to go on a vacation with you. How does visiting place X sound? Would you be interested?"

I've come to realize that it's a Thing and an Issue because we seem to regard Wanting to Travel Together as proof of commitment. It's not really even about the trip itself--rather the wanting.

It's taken me awhile to unpack how dysfunctional that is, all about grand gestures rather than healthy communication a good relationship is actually based upon. So the last time my husband was planning a trip with someone, instead of doing what I would have normally done--have a grown-up version of a temper tantrum, basically--I went to him and told him how I was feeling and told him I really wanted to travel together but had been waiting for him to ask me.

Within a week, we had a trip planned. It was awesome!

This whole issue isn't really necessarily indicative of what you seem to think it is even in your follow-up--our relationship and what each of us wants out of it, what our expectations are. To your boyfriend, this trip with his brother is not emblematic of His Feelings for You, but a fun thing he's doing with someone. If you want to go with him, or go on another trip with him, you should ask. But the "trajectory of your relationship" stuff . . . well, I think that's actually another issue entirely and deserves to be discussed separate from all of this.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:41 PM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

You said that your break-up last time wasn't because of the jazz festival, but I wonder if the festival is still connected to the break-up to you. Maybe it's just bringing up some bad feelings.
posted by Margalo Epps at 2:43 PM on May 13, 2013

I don't spend anywhere near every weekend with my partner, and we've been together for over 10 years. Sometimes we make vacation plans for a trip to take together. Other times, I make plans to visit friends or do things out of town and may: ask him to please attend with me, invite him to attend if he's interested, or let him know that he's not invited.
posted by desuetude at 10:41 PM on May 13, 2013

Response by poster: Wow, desuetude, if we didn't spend the weekend together, we'd never see each other. He works long hours during the week and is usually tired--unless there's a special event we attend. We usually don't talk during the week, except for texting. Weekends are our only time together.
posted by femmefatale123 at 10:55 AM on May 14, 2013

Hmm, I feel like your update changes the context. How far apart do you live from one another? Are you the one that doesn't want to get together or talk on the phone during the week, or is it him?

I suppose there's a lot of variability in couples and preferences for time spent together, but personally when I'm in a relationship with someone I like to see them on more than just the weekends (if there are no extenuating circumstances making that impractical).
posted by Asparagus at 11:55 AM on May 14, 2013

Response by poster: To answer your question, Asparagus, we live about 12 miles from each other.

During the school year, I teach all day and then usually teach a couple of evenings during the week until about 8:30 p.m. I'm also involved in community theater and sometimes have to be there on nights I'm not teaching.

He's a self-employed lawyer and usually doesn't get home from his office until 6:30 at the earliest. On days he has court, it can be later.
posted by femmefatale123 at 12:34 PM on May 14, 2013

Response by poster: To add to my answer, he does call sometimes--but usually in reference to something specific (plans, etc.) He says he's tired in the evenings and likes to "crash." He says he also suffers from low-level depression.
posted by femmefatale123 at 1:30 PM on May 14, 2013

Response by poster: Oh, I found out today that he's going on the trip in August. He didn't invite me. He said he'd be out of pocket that weekend and couldn't really say no to his brother. I didn't want to talk to him about it on the phone, so I'm going to ask him to talk about it when I see him this weekend.
posted by femmefatale123 at 1:46 PM on May 14, 2013

Response by poster: One more thing. In reference to us talking on the phone, I hardly ever call him. He has a cell phone as old as Methuselah, and sometimes it doesn't ring where he can hear it.
posted by femmefatale123 at 4:04 PM on May 14, 2013

Well, how do you feel about all of this? That's what matters. Personally, I think "low-level depression" and "old cell phone" sound like excuses, and the real issue is just that he doesn't want to get involved in a serious relationship.

(And I might suggest posting an update in a week or so if you'd like to get more feedback -- I don't know if people are still checking this thread.)
posted by Asparagus at 4:21 PM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Hi. I'm coming in late here, but I agree with the advice that bookends these answers - like jbenben and Asparagus, it really does seem that you are more committed to this relationship than he is. I think the fact that you are worried that this trip is reflective of his level of (non)commitment to the relationship, because is is reflective of his (non)commitment to the relationship.

It's not wrong for couples to vacation apart, or even to live apart. But after as much time together as you have been together, you should already know what his (and your!) stance is on vacations, sharing time, hanging out with family, etc. Regardless of y'all's preferences, you should know what they are.

But you don't. You are still in the dark after 1.5 years. No wonder you're hurt, and worried! You don't know what should be common knowledge at this point!

I agree that his compartmentalization, his "old phone," and his post-work tiredness sound like convenient fiction written by someone who really wants to keep this relationship casual, but doesn't want to let you know that.

There is the case I could be wrong (desuetude's relationship comes to mind - it kind of boggles my mind, but that really works for some people!). Either way, you are at that point where you should know which side of this your relationship falls on, and should feel comfortable bringing this issue up with your boyfriend.

Asking at this point is not pushy, and if he makes you feel like just asking him about it is pushy, I stand by my stance that he is stringing you along. You may ask him about it, and end up opening a wonderful conversation about the relationship, your preferences, family dynamic, etc. That would be great!

Either way, though - you really need to bring this up with him. This is not the time or place to be avoidant.

Good luck.
posted by vivid postcard at 8:40 PM on May 15, 2013

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