Welcome to Unsolicited Advice, the weekly column where I dispense advice to people who never asked me for it and don’t know who I am.
Last week I had to tell a not-so-young woman that her boyfriend of fifteen years was never going to marry her. This week we head back to the never-disappointing Reddit forums where we find a frustrated young man. In an effort to compromise with his girlfriend about her ever-present cat, our young lover offered what he believed to be a reasonable compromise.
I feel that compromise is an important part of any relationship, so a few months ago I offered what I felt like was a fair solution: on nights when I sleep over, the cat would not be allowed in the bed when we lay down for the night, but if it jumped into the bed after we fell asleep (which it almost always does in less than 30 minutes), then I wouldn’t kick it out. She agreed, and I thought all would be well.
All did not go well, and the girlfriend backed out of their agreement after just a couple of weeks, saying she’d changed her mind and she was “not willing to compromise on this”.
Anyway, later in the evening she laid down to take a nap and asked me to join, but the cat was laying right next to her where I would normally lay. I said, “I would, but you’re not going to let me move the cat, are you?” She said no, and I asked how I was supposed to lay with her with the cat being in the way. She said that I could just sleep on the other side of it.
Am I right that she’s the one being unreasonable here? This seems like such a ridiculous problem that shouldn’t be causing fights like this.
Oh, Mr. Cat Compromiser…you’ve found yourself in the right place. I’m about to spit some unsolicited gold.
You are right that this is a ridiculous problem. However, the cat is not the problem. The girlfriend is the problem. The cat is a symptom.
The real problem is that you have chosen a girlfriend who is unwilling to make small but meaningful changes to accommodate a mate. Your demands are not unreasonable at all. The cat has free rein when you’re not around and when you are around you seem willing to make compromises. You’ve indicated you’re even willing to put up with the cat sneaking in at night. You’ve set some very basic boundaries aimed at fostering intimacy between you and your girlfriend.
That she sees this as some sort of imposition is a red flag and if you think about it, it’s not all that odd. You get used to living life on your own terms and soon it begins to feel “natural”. You begin to feel entitled to have all of your boundaries and lifestyle preferences accommodated because “this is just the way I am”. Your girlfriend feels entitled to live her life her way and only her way. I’m not judging her for that. That is her call. What I’m saying is that she is not really telling you that her cat is more important than your relationship; she is telling you that her own comfort is more important to her than your relationship.
Again, that’s her right and her call but after twenty years of marriage, I can tell you that no thriving relationship comes without a cost, without compromise. Despite modern sensibilities, it is actually a very good thing to marry young. You grow into each other’s lives together, at the same pace. The older one gets the harder it becomes because you are being asked to clear out space in your life that has been occupied by other junk for a long time.
Your girlfriend isn’t willing to make space for you in her life. She won’t even make it for you in her bed. Is that the type of person you can see yourself settling down with?
Again – to ward off the cat cults – this is not a column about the cat. The cat is fine. The woman is the one who is creating boundaries where none need exist. She is not so much choosing her cat over you, but rather her independence over you. Independence is a great thing, but healthy relationships are made when two people decide to depend on each other. Your girlfriend doesn’t seem to be ready for that.
I’m not sure how long you’ve been with her, or how serious you are but I think you should take a step back and start exploring other options. This is not a woman who is serious about making room for love. It will only end badly, as you can tell by her reaction to this one request.
You’ll know a woman is right for you when she not only makes reasonable compromises for your comfort and happiness, but finds joy in doing so. Likewise, you will also find joy in making her life better for her even if it means giving up some comfort on your end. It won’t be a battle or big negotiation, it will evolve reasonably because that’s what happens in mature relationships.
Leave your girlfriend behind. Let her know that it isn’t about the cat, it is about her unwillingness to shift the borders of her life to squeeze you in once in a while. Then grab her pussy one last time, say a fond goodbye and go find a woman who will welcome you as a partner rather than just someone who warms the other side of the cat at night.