Dear Wendy: “My 33-Year-Old Boyfriend Still Lives At Home”

It’s time again for “Shortcuts,” wherein I answer readers’ letters in two sentences or less. Sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great, being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go. Today we discuss un-ambitious significant others, jealous friends, and interpreting mixed signals.

My boyfriend of nine months is 33-years-old, currently lives with his parents, has worked a retail job with very limited growth for the last two years, and has shown no indication that a career is top priority for him. We get along wonderfully and have an amazing connection and I find myself thinking about a future with him, but I’m frustrated with the situation. He’s expressed a desire to return to school and I’ve been completely supportive of the idea, making some suggestions and sending him info on grad programs I found in his field of interest. He was receptive to it, but there’s been very little follow-through on his part. I don’t want to constantly lead him by the hand or push him to do something. I want him to grow up, get his act together, have some drive and make the effort, so that we can have a shot at a future together. I feel like a jerk for admitting this, but I think my desire to be with him is contingent on his ambition level. I want a fulfilling career and have personal and professional goals that I’m trying to reach, and it’s important to me that my partner be on the same page. Maybe I’m the problem; maybe if he met the “right” person he’d immediately get his life in order. Do I give him time to figure out what he wants, potentially finding myself five years from now with a guy who’s pushing 40 and still working some meaningless job? Or should I just accept that he has a good work ethic and can keep a job despite not using his potential, and walk away if I can’t deal with that? — Standstill

You actually are the problem, but only in the sense that you’re trying to mold your man into a compatible partner for yourself. Accept that at 33 he is who he is — and doesn’t seem interested in changing — and if that isn’t someone you want to spend your life with, spare both of your feelings and end things now.

My cousin Sean has always been my partner-in-crime. Born a year apart, we’ve been inseparable our whole lives. While he recently served a two-year tour in Iraq, most of our phone/mail correspondence centered around the hell we’d raise when he finally got home: ballgames, barflies, and beer, just like the old times. Thankfully, he came home safe and sound a month and a half ago. But since he’s been home, he’s been ALL OVER a single mom named Julie. I can only imagine how starved he’s been for female companionship, so their courtship really didn’t bother me at all — at first. But now I’m starting to think that they are moving just a bit too fast. He texted me yesterday that he could see himself marrying this girl, and though I can’t blame her for being completely gaga over my cousin, but for him, this is very out of character. He’s 28, and while he’s always been popular with the ladies, his last serious relationship was in 2001. Most of our friends think he’s crazy and settling into “playing house” a little too soon and I’m starting to agree with them more and more. Should I just chalk this up as the infatuation phase between two lonely kids who have finally found each other, or should I sit this kid down and tell him to ease off the gas and tap the brakes a little bit? — Nervous Cousin

I think you should mind your own business and be happy your cousin/partner-in-crime made it back safely from war and has found someone special to make his homecoming that much sweeter. You have the rest of your lives to hell-raise together, so quit being jealous of the time Sean’s spending with his new girlfriend!

I am in college and don’t have a whole lot of experience dating guys. I recently reconnected with a male high school friend who attends a different college who constantly suggested that we “hang out” when he was back in town. It took awhile, but we finally got our acts together and made plans to see each other. After talking for several hours, he spontaneously kissed me — a very passionate and intense kiss. I eventually leaned back in absolute shock and literally asked, “What just happened?” He responded by telling me that he how much he likes me and talking about how he feels that I really “get him.” I responded by confessing my mutual feelings for him but expressed some concern about how this would affect out friendship. He said the equivalent of “don’t worry about it,” and we continued to kiss. Eventually, we surfaced for air, and he informed me that I need to “loosen up” and asked me “Why don’t you go date Bob*?” I was honestly shocked that he said this, especially after all that kissing. I was rather irritated, but he ignored this and continued to kiss me. Before leaving at the end of the night, he implied that everything that had occurred was “just for fun.” However, shortly after he left, he sent me a text reiterating that he likes me and that I “know how he feels”!! I am completely baffled by what I perceive as his mixed signals. Why would he be so intent upon sharing his feelings for me one minute, and suggest dating someone else the next? If he cares for me as he claims, why would kissing me so intensely be just for fun? Should I just forget about him? Or am I simply overthinking this? HELP! — Naive

He likes you as a friend and although he’s attracted to you and enjoys kissing you, he’s not interested in committing to a relationship with you. The only “feelings” he shared with you is that he “likes you” and you “get him,” which in guy-speak (and even girl-speak) can easily translate to: “you’re cool and I like having no-strings-attached fun with you!”

*Do you have a relationship/dating question I can help with? Send me your letters at [email protected]