Relationship riot

Joey Garcia

My girlfriend is late showing up for dinner at my home, late for departures when I pick her up from her house and late if we agree to meet someplace. She thinks I should be more understanding because of all the good things that she brings to our relationship. She also struggles to show up without being frazzled, and I struggle to not be too angry. That has a tendency to set an uneasy tone for our time together. It doesn’t help that I have control issues and strong judgments. I think that people who are late are being disrespectful and saying, in effect, “you don’t matter” to those they keep waiting. To my girlfriend’s credit, she is committed to changing and is working to be on time. But I have had other girlfriends with this same issue. Advice?

Yes, if the women in your life tend to be late and you interpret their tardiness as meaning you don’t matter, your feelings are related, in part, to your childhood. I would guess that your mamacita was emotionally distant, absent or very busy while you were growing up. The experience of feeling abandoned or unimportant and waiting for Mama’s attention became second nature. Now you use other people’s bad habits to place what you fear is true about you (“I don’t matter”) in their minds and hearts. Comprende? You are using your girlfriend as the conduit to direct a negative judgment at yourself. That’s painful for both of you. So, hey, please stop.

You obviously do matter to your current girlfriend. She cares enough to be committed to change. But if you have an overdeveloped superego (control issues), you may prefer to create scenarios to prove that your girlfriend is fatally flawed. That would allow you to avoid shifting into a spiritual approach to your dilemma: choosing to help her change since you’re a pro at being on time. Consider this advice from Dr. Keith Ablow: “If you have a friend who is always late, you can become a true healer with just one comment like this: ‘Just so you know, I’ll always wait for you. You’re much more important to me than getting to a movie in time for previews. But it would be great if we did leave early enough, because cutting it too close makes me stressed out about parking and all that.’” Wow, can’t you just feel the love?

Of course, your girl has work to do, too. People who are chronically late are also struggling with childhood baggage and may need therapy. Some perpetually tardy people are alcoholics or have other addictions. Chronic lateness can also represent a fear of commitment. Or an anxiety disorder. And sometimes, it’s a power play by someone who is insecure about her or his value and so arrives late in order to feel more important than the one waiting. But if your girlfriend’s tardiness is truly in transition to punctuality, you should be willing to stop letting your superego rule your love life. P.S. Your girlfriend probably shows up frazzled because she’s afraid you’ll be angry. If an argument ensues, her tardiness and your response feed an adrenaline addiction in each of you. Where is the love?

I’ve dated my boyfriend for close to a year, but he has never invited me to meet his family. Should I worry that the relationship is going nowhere?

Worrying doesn’t serve the good in you, so, no, don’t fret. Just ask your man a direct question, like: “I would love to meet your family. Can we invite them over for dinner next week?” Take care not to allow anxiety to maneuver you into shrieking, “Why haven’t you introduced me to your family?” because that’s a recipe for a relationship riot.

Meditation of the week
James Joyce wrote in Ulysses, “Mistakes are the portals of discovery.” Are you willing to view your blunders, missteps and faux pas as insight into what really matters?

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