Party Animal Boyfriend - When is it too much?
July 10, 2013 10:20 PM   Subscribe

My long term-ish boyfriend has developed over time a fixation with a particular crowd of young, party-going types and it's become more and more of a roadblock for me. He gains a significant degree of his self-esteem from going to parties/events that feature music, drug use, and what appears to me no more than lots of idle talk and some vaguely creative pursuits. Meanwhile, my boyfriend is in fact on the older side - approaching 40 - with no sense of financial planning or pursuing a truly meaningful career. It would seem that he has found a community of supportive, yet drug-using and less than gainfully employed young people to supply him with an ego boost. I, however, am entering a period of life in which I feel it's time to finally pursue commitment and plans for financial and familial security, yet I constantly feel abandoned as my boyfriend is out staying up all night at these parties.

Tonight, for instance, he knew I had to be at work early in the morning and we agreed to stop by one of these events briefly and then return home. Instead once we found our way there, he began to complain about having to leave and ultimately I left him behind - much to my disgust and anger. My question is - is it reasonable to expect one's partner to abide by a similar schedule and not spend their nights up all night at parties? I honestly can't figure out if I'm being unreasonable or if he is in fact behaving badly. How should I approach this situation when I barely care about partying yet my boyfriend is entirely enamored with it? Thank you so much...
posted by afabulousbeing to Human Relations (40 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
If he's approaching 40, then uh, yes, it's reasonable that he not be partying allllll the time. You are not being unreasonable. He is being a slacker at an age where it is unacceptable to be a slacker-- no wonder all his friends are young (kinda like in Dazed and Confused).

Time to break up with him. Seriously. This kind of situation doesn't end well.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:24 PM on July 10, 2013 [12 favorites]

I constantly feel abandoned as my boyfriend is out staying up all night at these parties. Tonight, for instance, he knew I had to be at work early in the morning and we agreed to stop by one of these events briefly and then return home. Instead once we found our way there, he began to complain about having to leave and ultimately I left him behind - much to my disgust and anger.
My question is - is it reasonable to expect one's partner to abide by a similar schedule and not spend their nights up all night at parties?

It's reasonable to expect one's partner to listen to your concerns and to not passive-aggressively try to rope you into things you don't want to do.
posted by kagredon at 10:43 PM on July 10, 2013 [10 favorites]

My question is - is it reasonable to expect one's partner to abide by a similar schedule and not spend their nights up all night at parties?

There are all kinds of relationships in this world, and if two people want to make their lives about partying crazy hours with twentysomethings, or if one person wants that and his significant other is cool with it, then who are any of us to harsh their mellow...but back up a sec. Take another look at your question. Do you think it's reasonable to expect a person to not spend all their nights partying?

Of course you do. And if it's reasonable to expect that from a person, then certainly that's a reasonable piece to include in the heightened framework of what you expect from your partner.

Separately, and maybe unrelated but maybe not, I've never heard anyone refer to their significant other as "long term-ish." That's quite the hedge you've tried to inconspicuously suffix-cram past us. And besides that, your question is positively dripping with negative judgments about your boyfriend. I'm not saying those judgments are wrong (or right), but you're clearly not happy with the guy's decisions about how to live his life. That's a pretty big problem for any two people in a "long term-ish" relationship, I'd say.

I'm sorry for your difficulties. Growing apart sucks, although hopefully you like other things about the direction in which you're growing. Good luck.
posted by cribcage at 10:44 PM on July 10, 2013 [34 favorites]

I don't know what it's reasonable to expect, but it's obvious that you guys aren't living compatible lifestyles right now.

What's more important to him, being with you long term or partying?
posted by Sara C. at 10:47 PM on July 10, 2013 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Eugh, being on the other side of this as someone in their early 20s whose a musician and involved in the music/"party"/creative scene in my city and area... There's always several guys like this around.

The general consensus is not something positive like the "greybeard hippies" among burner/arts collective/etc circles, but more "jeeze what's up with that old guy. total midlife crisis/failure to launch/doesn't want to grow up routine" with a side of getting the feeling they're probably there to flirt with the younger women.

Which they usually are.

I'd honestly say the fact that he bait-and-switched you with the BS "just the tip" routine of getting you to come and then trying to peer pressure you in to staying out is just as troublesome as the fact that he's nearing 40 but still trying to act like he's nearing 25.

I think there's some kind of serious maturity level mismatch thing going on here, and this is NOT a case of you being "uptight" or anything. Most of my peers go out a couple times a week at most, and usually not even that late anymore. You might go out later than 1 or 2 a couple nights a week, and the entire thing pretty much levels off at a couple nights a week. The only exceptions are people deeply involved in a music project, or in trying to get a music venue/recurring themed show/art space/gallery event/etc off the ground and even then they're at these things working and networking.

I know a couple people a bit older than me like your boyfriend, and if they're going out more than a couple times a week it's more about getting hammered and they're pretty much floundering.

The fact that you said he got back into it makes me wonder if he hit some kind of wall or got discouraged about the lack of progress in his life and basically just fell back to what he was doing 15 years ago.

So basically, find an adult and let him have his midlife man-child crisis. I guess this is what artsy/music types do when they near 40 and it isn't their style nor within their monetary capabilities to buy a sport bike or a porsche or something.
posted by emptythought at 10:53 PM on July 10, 2013 [29 favorites]

You're both allowed to want what you want. He wants to party with twentysomethings to feel young. You want to settle down with someone who is stable and who wants to commit. If he can't be what you want, then you have to stop trying to make him be it and move on.
posted by inturnaround at 10:54 PM on July 10, 2013 [23 favorites]

How should I approach this situation when I barely care about partying yet my boyfriend is entirely enamored with it?

I'm going to respond to this as a guy approaching 40 who goes out clubbing a few times a year, and as someone who went through a party-all-the-time phase in my late 20s, and hung out with people of all ages who have gone through similar phases.

If this is a recent change (as in, he just discovered ecstasy or something), then what he is probably going through is what people in the 'scene' call "the honeymoon'. It can last anywhere from months to years before he gets jaded or tired of it. You are either going to have to go along for the ride or break up with him (or he'll break up with you), because you are not going to derail the journey he is going on now. He's figuring out who he is all over again, and you might end up part of his life or you might not, but what you want or need is probably going to end up coming in second to what he's dealing with personally.

You need to sit him down and have like a really deep conversation with him about this, probably sooner rather than later, so you at least know where you stand. From the tone of your question, I imagine you're probably not going to like the answer.
posted by empath at 11:23 PM on July 10, 2013 [6 favorites]

It's not that easy to answer your question, since I get the sense that it's presented in a rather one-sided fashion. Seems like there's some key information being excluded or shrugged off dismissively here. From "vaguely creative pursuits" it sounds that this is some sort of art or music scene he may be legitimately a part of and working/collaborating within, but this isn't elaborated on. Does "drug use" mean people casually smoking weed at parties, or are there strung out dope addicts in the halls. Are you sleeping by 9pm and expecting him to as well, and why. These sorts of details are important. More generally, it sounds like you're resentful that you're working at a job you consider legitimate and he's working at a job that isn't what you consider "truly meaningful." Elaborating on the specifics of this and why you feel this way would probably help as well. The wastoid 40 year old with midlife crisis portrait you're painting sounds pretty bad to me, but I imagine his version of the story would be so different that it would be nearly unrecognizable.
posted by naju at 11:29 PM on July 10, 2013 [15 favorites]

idle talk and some vaguely creative pursuits

Ohhhh, really?

I imagine his version of the story would be so different that it would be nearly unrecognizable.


Why is it such a big deal to leave your boyfriend at a party if you have to get up early? Such a big deal that it causes "disgust" and "anger"? FYI, I don't think it's necessary to have the same schedule as your partner at all, but that's me, not you. It's not like there's a great Reasonable-o-meter that we can all judge our feelings against. Your feelings are your feelings.

I'm not dismissing your feelings, but I think that the question you asked isn't the question that you need to ask. It seems like there's a lot going on here.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 11:58 PM on July 10, 2013 [8 favorites]

Best answer: It's Burning Man, isn't it?

I once dated someone who really enjoyed staying up all night drinking and partying. He had a group of really awesome friends that he'd known for years and years. Eventually, those friends got older and started slowing down. When that happened, he had to get a set of all NEW friends, averaging 5 to 10 years younger than him, whose lives centered around drinking, doing drugs, wearing costumes, and talking all year about what they would do next year at Burning Man. Like it might be 5 am, and I might have to work the next day, and I would have to go in the other room and ask them to at least turn down the bass, while I was stared at by college-aged girls sitting in my living room in fishnets and body paint.

There was no solution. This was what he wanted. It made him really happy to participate in these things and I was not interested at all. He said the fact that I didn't want to participate indicated that I had social phobia. Actually, I just had no interest in sitting on my couch all night in hot pants and glitter doing drugs and having drugged out, pointless conversations with a bunch of people I had nothing in common with.

We broke up and he's dating one of those girls now.
posted by cairdeas at 12:06 AM on July 11, 2013 [53 favorites]

"is it reasonable to expect one's partner to abide by a similar schedule"

i'm not exactly sure what you mean by this, but i'm going to go with "no, it's not reasonable". Mainly because I can't see why this is necessary: maybe I like night diving and you want to sleep? Maybe you like watching the sunrise, and I definitely want to sleep?

It sounds a lot like: "I'm going to bed now, so you have to as well" ?
posted by alchemist at 12:33 AM on July 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

Re: sleep schedules. This is important to my partner and I. It is evidently not for the person above. That would suggest that the person above and I would find this a bone of contention in a relationship, unless we happily coincidentally held matching sleep schedules for the duration of our relationship. I don't think they are wrong though. This isn't something where norms matter, I think. What matters is- can you negotiate? Or- do you like the rest enough to ignore it?
posted by jojobobo at 12:43 AM on July 11, 2013

He gains a significant degree of his self-esteem from going to parties/events that feature music, drug use, and what appears to me no more than lots of idle talk and some vaguely creative pursuits.

The way you phrase this makes me side with your BF. It sounds like he's doing nothing harmful, and I know plenty of 40 year olds who still go to gigs, party, and 'engage in idle talk'.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 12:50 AM on July 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

Maybe he is floundering. Maybe he has made some determination that a more creative, social life is what he wants. What matters is that you are at odds with the activity. I could not date somebody who wanted to watch monster trucks every weekend. If you want a different partner who doesn't do those things you describe, God bless.
posted by angrycat at 1:55 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

How should I approach this situation when I barely care about partying yet my boyfriend is entirely enamored with it?

Get a different boyfriend. Seriously. There's nothing wrong with his priorities but you now have different priorities and you are going to be better served finding a partner with whom you are more compatible in terms of life goals. Do not try to change him, it will only lead to bitterness and disappointment for at least one of you.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:57 AM on July 11, 2013 [17 favorites]

He wants what he wants (constant all-night partying); you want what you want (stability and commitment). It's fine to have different interests, as long as people respect that their partner's interests are just as valid as their own.

In other words, as long as he's a contributing member of your partnership --- NOT a leach who has you paying his bills --- he can stay up forever, but he doesn't get to force you to do the same if you don't want to. Next time, don't even GO to the party: just go straight home; he can go or not go, his choice.

But there is one other worry you've got to consider: the drugs. No matter what you think about current drug laws, you (and BF) also need to keep the laws and their consequences in mind. And by that, I mean the laws that permit things like confiscation of cars and houses involved in drug cases. You need to protect not only yourself, but also your property.
posted by easily confused at 3:19 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

I would not be OK with it and I would leave him.
posted by SyraCarol at 3:21 AM on July 11, 2013

You gotta talk to him about all of this. If you love him...if he's a keeper, then you need to communicate your feelings and come to a resolution, one that sits well with both of you.

Right now, it seems like he's going through something. Maybe there's a way you can work through this together and you can both be happy.

But talk to him!
posted by kinetic at 3:26 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

To me, you're being entirely reasonable.

It would be interesting to know how often he sees these folks and how long this has been going on, but agreeing to go to briefly and complaining about having to leave is childish. My parents wouldn't have tolerated more than about 11 seconds of that from me and my sisters when we were 12.

No sense of financial planning is far from unprecedented at his age, though a long way from good. Too many people out there with less than a grand to their names, serious credit-card debt, etc., through choices more than catastrophes.

I read "meaningful career" as being a job/career that's at least slightly enjoyable and provides a income that's at least a little bit above minimum wage, not as being a teacher, nurse, fireman, etc. If that's reasonably accurate, hard to feel optimistic about someone like that as their 40th birthday draws near.

Suffice to say I am not unfamiliar with drugs -- beyond marijuana -- and don't judge people for taking them, though as someone noted, weed busts are no small thing in a lot of places and busts for other drugs tend to be that much worse. Much as they happen infrequently, they do happen.

How to approach this? Not so bluntly, but essentially that this gets throttled way back, he acts with more regard for you and the relationship or you're done.
posted by ambient2 at 4:15 AM on July 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I would feel exactly as you are, so to me you are being reasonable. Part of the problem is that you can't trust or rely upon him. He agreed (by the sounds of things) to not stay long at the party, but then whined when you tried to have him make good on that promise. I would be angry too.

It sounds like you and your boyfriend are on two different life tracks now, and you value different things. My best friend just broke up with her long term-ish boyfriend for similar reasons. She is in a career, working hard, building upon her reputation and planning for the future. He was underemployed, much more focused on music (listening to and watching, not playing or creating himself), and he had no fiscal responsibility. Her final breaking point was last month. He spent a pile of money going to some big music concert and then didn't have the money for his half of rent or bills or groceries. And he knew it was going to happen because he had talked to his mom and sister about it weeks before. She finally decided that enough was enough. She was a grownup, and she wanted to be in a relationship with a grown up. The breakup was a bit tough but she is much happier now, much better off. She is no longer constantly worrying about him and his choices.

I would definitely end it if I were you. He is engaging in a lifestyle you don't want, don't enjoy, and don't really agree with. That is a very solid reason to end a relationship.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 4:35 AM on July 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

If both people's needs are being met and differences is in lifestyle and schedule can be discussed openly then this would certainly be able to work. However, telling you to come and agreeing to stay only a short time and then getting mad about sticking to the agreement isn't that, and it's a warning signal for other poor communication issues that will hinder your relationship development. Also, someone going out a lot is fine, but if it is actually every single night where there isn't one night a week left aside for just the two partners to bond/discuss plans/touch base that is not a relationship. You have different needs and you're not compatible to meet each others needs, so you should move on.
posted by itsonreserve at 5:54 AM on July 11, 2013

It doesn't sound like anything he's doing is actually harming your relationship. He's not endangering his job; you don't say he's drinking too much, or treating your poorly, and you say you feel "abandoned" but you feel abandoned because he doesn't "abide" by your schedule. The use of abide here is tellling.

Your repeated references to his "drug using" friends who are "less than gainfully employed" and who engage in "idle talk and some vaguely creative pursuits". Then you talk about his "ego boost" as the reason he does this. You are disdainful and insulting.

It sounds like you just don't like his friends or him. Your concerns might be reasonable, but you didn't frame it reasonably. Of course, you don't have to be reasonable. You're allowed to want what you want.
posted by spaltavian at 5:59 AM on July 11, 2013 [7 favorites]

You frame the question as whether your expectations regarding his schedule are reasonable and whether he is behaving badly. I think that's the wrong way to think about this issue. This isn't about whether his behavior is "bad" or whether his schedule is objectively unreasonable. This is about whether the two of you are still compatible. So, I would focus on that frame and try to move away from the judgmental stuff about his ego and party-focused lifestyle. You are interested in settling down and he's moving in a different direction. Given that, maybe you should end the relationship and find someone whose goals and lifestyle are a better fit.

You can break up with him because the two of you don't work as a couple any more. That's fine. It is a sensible reason to leave him. You don't have to decide that he's a bad guy to justify the break up and I think it would be healthier for the two of you if you did not.
posted by Area Man at 6:10 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Here's the thing, I'd dump his ass so hard, mostly because I would have NOTHING in common with the creepy old guy who keeps coming to our rave.

But that's me. Is this behavior a deal-breaker for YOU?

Assume this will never change, that this is his hobby and he loves it. Assume that he is, who he is, as you see him right now. Is this the star you want to hitch your wagon to?

Only you can answer this question. If you want my permission to DTMFA, I'll give it to you. If you want my permission to re-frame your life to accomodate him, then you have that too.

Husbunny and I have similar interests, but there are a few that just don't do it for me. The WNBA for instance. During the season, he's all up in women's basketball. He watches the games on TV, he blogs about it, he attends all the home games. I'm prefectly happy leaving him to this weird little freak of his. Who does it hurt? As long as I don't have to be bothered with it, I'm good.

So, here's the question. Can you each agree to a certain amount of time for him to go and party his ass off? Say, 2 nights a week? You don't have to go with him and you don't have to screw him if he's drunk or high. Would that work for you?

If however, you want a committment and you want to settle down, you really need to see if he's on board with that. The rest of this is just noise. The question you want answered is, "are we going to take our relationship to another level, or do you just want to do what we're doing forever."

Either it works for you or it doesn't. I'm thinking it doesn't because you're asking internet strangers for their opinions.

The first part of your question sounds contempuous of him and his partying, the second sounds like you're trying to drum up sympathy for your current situation. You are a grown woman. You can easily decide if this is something you want in your life or not.

The rest of it is static.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:10 AM on July 11, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Hey there! I can answer this as someone who is rising forty and has a bunch of twenty-something friends whose parties I occasionally attend. I could, if I wished, spend many nights of the week partying and drinking pretty hard, and probably some nights of the week using drugs. (Although everyone would be absolutely fucking astonished, let me tell you, given that I am virtually a T-totaller.) My partner, also my age, goes to more parties than I do and sometimes stays out late enough to interfere with stuff we need to do in terms of cleaning, projects, etc. I find this really frustrating because it puts more work (and more financial/material risk) on my shoulders.

My personal opinion is that in general, if you're forty-ish and you're spending lots and lots of time at parties drinking and taking drugs with people much younger than you, you're pretty immature for your age and it's not a good sign.

(Also, don't some of these young kids think it's creepy? I'm pretty cautious about drinking and partying with a much younger set because there are all kinds of power and sexuality dynamics around age.)

In my experience, there are lots of things that it's great to do at the right time - it's great to have some years of experimenting with drugs and substances, trying out identities, bullshitting about creative ideas that never actually happen, trying out different ways of relating to people, having certain types of physical fun (like getting drunk or high a lot) that start to get a lot harder on the body when you're older. Being younger and living like that? Totally fine and for a lot of people very, very productive socially, sexually and artistically. But eventually, in my experience, the conversations and the parties and the artistic concerns start to repeat. (They don't repeat for the younger folks, because there's always new younger folks who need those conversations.) Once things start to repeat, you run the risk of getting emotionally and intellectually stuck, not learning or doing new things. In some ways, this is enjoyable - you can get some cheap authority from having had these conversations many times before, or from having more social knowledge than someone who is 22. But it's basically being stuck, and I would be wary of someone who was stuck in that particular way.

(Some folks never got that stuff when they were younger and so it's new to them even in their thirties or forties - that's different because it's still productive for them.)

Folks are saying that you resent this guy too much, and have contempt for his friends, etc. I wonder if that isn't because you're getting stuck? Like, if he is out until dawn and hungover the next day, he's not going to be able to spend good, focused time with you, talking about the things you both care about, right? He's not going to do his share of the dishes. And he's imperiling his financial future, and that means that you're taking on more risk of having to support him (and being both poorer and more tied down yourself) or risking putting more effort into this relationship only to have it break up later when it will be harder for you to start over. Honestly, when those have been my concerns, I've felt pretty contemptuous and angry myself.

Again in my experience, it's easy for women to fall into a habit of supporting a guy who just isn't willing to get it together - do the chores, wake them up for work, bring them stuff when they're hungover, pick up the cost of minor things when they're too broke because they spent it all on Black Label, etc.

In my personal experience, it's really great and productive to be able to say "I got a lot out of a party-heavy lifestyle when I was younger, and now I want to do something else".
posted by Frowner at 6:23 AM on July 11, 2013 [25 favorites]

Is this about schedules or is this about what he's doing? If he were night-owling in order to finish his novel or was scheduled for late shifts at his job, how would you feel about it?

Whether or not is reasonable for two people in a relationship to keep similar schedules is too open-ended a question - and the answer can really only be "It depends on the couple." In your case, you're clearly not liking the disjunction in schedules, but it seems to be much more about his attitude towards that disjunction, and your attitude towards what he's doing, not when he's doing it. Address those first, because trying to make a rule like "We will both be home in bed by 11 pm" would not fix those problems.
posted by rtha at 6:28 AM on July 11, 2013

Best answer: From what you describe here it sounds like you don't get to see him much at all, and if that's the case, I think that's the real problem - it hardly even matters WHAT he's doing with all that time he isn't with you, what matters is that he's obviously not dedicating enough time to your relationship and you're feeling abandoned. And sure, plenty of couples have varying needs for amount of time spent together, but obviously your needs are for more than this guy is providing. There's nothing at all unreasonable about wanting to spend time with your partner (for what it's worth, I do go back to bed when my partner does, even though she falls asleep much earlier than me - I just really enjoy the cozy intimacy of ending the day in bed next to her).

I was going to suggest that the two of you approach it from this angle and try to work out a compromise where he still gets to go out a certain number of times per week, but also spends more nights with you instead, but it would be worth your while to first consider whether that would be doable for you both. Do you think he'd be able to do such an arrangement without being petulant and resentful on the nights he "has" to be with you instead of out partying? Do you think you'd be able to ease up a tad on your judgment of his friends and activities on his "sanctioned" party nights? If so, then by all means talk to him and try to work something out, but if not it's probably best for both of you if you went your separate ways. There are people out there who will want something more like what you want.
posted by DingoMutt at 6:34 AM on July 11, 2013

Could people stop with the "eww it's creepy for a guy in his late thirties to party with twenty somethings" stuff (1, 2)? It's ageist and frankly offensive to suggest that when you approach your forties you're a creep for having a good time with younger adults. There's no suggestion here that the OP's boyfriend is imposing himself on these people or is anything less than a friend or welcome presence at these events.
posted by Unified Theory at 6:42 AM on July 11, 2013 [17 favorites]

It's frustrating to care about someone who believes that partying with 20 year olds will keep them from having to accept a mature role.

The question is, do you want to feel like this again and again, like the mom of a teenager? Or are you ready to date more mature guys who have their stuff together? Of at the very least, date guys who can call it a night when you have work the next day and aren't going to leave you alone to walk home by yourself?

You're in a situation that is not making you happy. Break it off and date other guys who are more considerate and actually act like your friend and boyfriend.

Does your boyfriend have any close male friends who are his own age?
posted by discopolo at 6:56 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yeah, I had to call a relationship like this DOA in my early late 20s/early 30s. The guy was much like the one you describe, he was already about 40 then, and he was not growing up. It took me some time realize we weren't just passing through a party phase and would eventually settle down more. We sang in a band together and so we were at a lot of bars and house parties anyway, and then our nights off would also feature, generally, getting food and beers at a bar and socializing with the various crowds of friends we knew. And, similarly, when I needed to get more serious (had work the next day, wanted to plan something bigger), he was not supportive or interested in joining in, so we just went our separate ways, as you did the other night. He had a lame day job and made gestures toward a half-hearted search for a real career, but not serious ones.

One difference was that he was not necessarily just interested in hanging out with younger people. His cronies were all ages. In the end, what turned out to be the case was that he was not drawn so much by the social scene, but was really primarily driven by drinking. Because drinking in bars was a big part of my life at that stage, I didn't recognize it as pathological right away. But when a year or two went by and I realized it was a pattern that would always come before my preferences, private time together, other plans we might have, and the future, I called it quits. It was all about the day-to-day and just winding up, whenever possible, with the opportunity to hang out and drink with people who thought that it was totally normal to drink to excess nightly. In short, he had a drinking problem. We broke up.

It's now 15 years later. He has not changed even a little bit. He still has not started a real career, he is still single, he is not healthy, he still drinks nightly, he is completely content with his life as it is. I made the right decision.

I don't know that this really resembles your situation, but I think it has some similarities. The issue you are reacting immediately to is him choosing partying, and another crowd, over time with you. But I think it represents a bigger disconnect between the type of person you are the type of person he is. You value a serious commitment as a couple, time spent together, mutual goals, and meaningful careers. He does not act in a way that says he values these things. He may never value these things. Even if he says he values these things, his choices show that he may not really value them enough to develop the discipline to do the things it takes to get them.

I would encourage you to sit down and have the conversation about where your lives are headed. Where do you expect to be in a year, five years, ten years, at retirement? Where does he expect to be? Do you see yourselves together? Do you have a family? What is your daily life like? How many nights a week do you go out? How important is a career, and what are your, and his, career goals? This kind of conversation may help diagnose whether you really are a match in terms of having a future together. You may have had a healthier history together, but if this trajectory continues it might not match the future you are looking at. This is not about what your schedules are like and who goes to bed when. It's about whether you share the same priorities in life.

I wish I had done this much earlier in my own situation - because I was younger and used to going out, it took me forever to notice that his behavior was odd for his age cohort and should have been a red flag. If I could have those years back, I really would take them. I wasted some wonderful time in my life and missed out on making more connections with the great co-workers and friends I was giving a back seat to while I waited for this guy to grow up and catch up with 10-years-younger me. So take yourself seriously here. Have the conversation. You might save yourself some pain.
posted by Miko at 6:58 AM on July 11, 2013 [7 favorites]

Forgive me for being pessimistic and for giving something of a stock answer, but I have found that the vast majority of the time in relationships, when the question is, "How do my partner and I move beyond this impasse that is making us both unhappy?" the answer is usually actually, "You won't. DTMFA."

I can never quite put my finger on what it is that makes us not want to just accept this. Maybe it's just hard to let go of people we care about. Maybe we hate to start again when the thing we're in isn't all bad. Maybe we have unrealistic, romantic ideas of what kinds of relationships can be saved from all of the crap we absorb in movies, tv, and books. Maybe it's a nasty side effect of an era heavy on therapy, couples therapy, self improvement regimes, etc. Maybe we're just good people at heart and we hate to "quit." I wouldn't pretend to know. All I can point out is that much of the time, we find ourselves looking for ways to fix relationships that, were we on the outside looking in, I don't think we could think of a parallel example of where such a fix has even worked for anyone we know.

I'll say this, though: given that a breakup might be a reasonable tactic to force the guy's hand and get him to grow up, you should look hard at whether that's your next move either way.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:18 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

how long has this been going on? is this new? is this something you used to participate in and lost the taste for?

couples can have different schedules, if that's ok with both of them. that would not be ok with my husband and me. you're allowed to be in the relationship you want but, you can't force someone to be the partner you need. whether you've changed or he's changed (or your tolerance has changed) - it seems like you aren't in the relationship you want to be in anymore.

i agree with some of the others that your telling is all very one sided - like to a comical degree - so it's hard to tell what's going on exactly. what isn't hard to figure out is that, either because you wrote this mad or this is how you feel all the time, you don't seem to like him very much. i've been there! i had a couple long-ish term relationships where we just batted up against each other constantly, trying to figure out how it all fit. in the end - we just didn't like each other very much (even though we loved each other).
posted by nadawi at 7:19 AM on July 11, 2013

i disagree that people giving their opinions of how they see the old guy at the rave is out of bounds somehow. there are absolutely older (usually) men who hang out in scenes with lots of drugs for less than noble reasons. because of this, sometimes even non-creepy older men are seen by the younger people as off. the linked comments point out this perception.
posted by nadawi at 7:25 AM on July 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

is it reasonable to expect one's partner to abide by a similar schedule and not spend their nights up all night at parties?

It's reasonable to have things you want and communicate those things you want to the person you're dating. There is no universal standard of which specific behaviors are required in a relationship. It's about what works for the both of you.

I honestly can't figure out if I'm being unreasonable or if he is in fact behaving badly.

It could be both.

How should I approach this situation when I barely care about partying yet my boyfriend is entirely enamored with it?

You should tell your boyfriend what you've told us. That said, I recommend doing so when you've calmed down and you're able to express these concerns in language that is less disdainful than how you've put it here. When you talk to him about this, please don't try to guess at his motivations for hanging out with this crowd - don't use the words "ego boost." It will make him defensive and you'll get nowhere. Also be prepared to hear him out and to work towards a compromise, where instead of one person getting everything they want, both people get a fair share of what they want.

If he's not willing to hear you on this or meet you in the middle, it may be time to move on.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:36 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Mod note: Please stop the "older men creepy/not" derail. Thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:47 AM on July 11, 2013

If he is moving towards a Burner-lifestyle, and you are not, cut bait. It's a lifestyle choice, and doesn't mix well with the things you sound like you're interested in. Let Burners be Burners, on their own terms.

I've lost a few friends to this lifestyle, and honestly, it hurts more than I thought it would. Be gentle with yourself.
posted by juniperesque at 7:49 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

There are lots of nice, stable men out there who want nothing more than to spend their weekends doing laundry with you and talking about the kids' college fund, the Roth IRA, and enjoying building a future together. That is totally okay. These men are are very nice, good people. I'm in my mid-20s and I love the guys who think a wild night is having a drink with a Netflix binge while in jammies.

Break up with this man and go find one of them.
posted by Unangenehm at 8:03 AM on July 11, 2013 [8 favorites]

I honestly can't figure out if I'm being unreasonable or if he is in fact behaving badly.

I think it's a bit of both. It's not unreasonable to want your partner to be on a similar page than you, but it is unreasonable to think you can control someone in order to get them there.

His partying would be much too much for me to handle, and his blatant disregard for your wants and needs is a shame.

He's going in one direction and you're going in another. In order for you to be content, I think you need him to change his new, exciting lifestyle which he doesn't sound keen on giving up just yet.

If I were you though, I would be more worried about his lack of financial planning at his age and personally, I think this is a bigger red flag than the partying.

Whatever happens - Good Luck.
posted by JenThePro at 8:03 AM on July 11, 2013

It is not unreasonable to want to be with a partner who shares similar life, relationship and career goals as you.

I don't think it's entirely reasonable to expect your partner to abide by the same schedule as you do, but I don't think that's your real problem here. As an example: I am a night owl, my partner is a morning person. I am very social and extroverted, he is an introvert. There have been many times where I've gone to parties, or just stayed out late with friends while my partner is at home. However, we also have similar goals in many other areas, I make spending time with him a priority, and I don't derive my self-worth from partying.

It sounds like you want very different things in life right now, and he's not going to give you what you want or deserve.

You say he is surrounding himself with drug users, but you don't mention whether or not he is using drugs himself. It may be worth investigating how much drug use in factoring in to his new lifestyle.
posted by inertia at 8:52 AM on July 11, 2013

Best answer: You've written your account mostly in terms of things that your boyfriend is doing wrong, or things you don't like about what he's doing. I suggest you edit it in your mind according to what you want. Doing this will steer you well away from wondering if you're reasonable to want him to change what he's doing. You want a boyfriend who considers your preferences and honors agreements. You want to be with someone you like and respect. You like to feel valued and appreciated and you feel good when the guy you love enjoys spending time with you. You can't make him do any of those things -- you can ask for what you want, and you can cut your losses and move on. It is very reasonable to identify the things that are important to you and try to foster them in your life.
posted by wryly at 10:35 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

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