Q. My girlfriend and I took our long-anticipated, biggest vacation together yet this summer. It went horribly, and this has happened before. I’ve realized we just do not do trips well together, with totally different styles of travel. I love her and am very happy in my life with her, and we are thinking about long-term commitments. But this is a big part of our lives that is incompatible. Honestly, I would be happier traveling alone. —Love Her, But …
If this is someone you are quite happy with day to day, then you should be able to break down the “horrible” into smaller issues and devise ways to troubleshoot them. Is it planning versus non-planning, spontaneity versus structure, risk-aversion versus adventure? An all-out war over the merits of Newark Airport? The more specifically you can track how the conflicts began, the better you can plan to avert them. And you can strategize and choose set-in-stone roles beforehand: Any given meal’s restaurant-decider makes their pick without interference; the navigator fixes a wrong turn without criticism or second-guessing; or the fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pantser gets to choose one surprise outing, no questions asked. If need be, build some alone-travel into the trip, too. No relationship rule says you must spend every day together, even (or especially!) in a foreign land.
Q. My longtime friend and I were close from elementary school through college. Although we have grown apart somewhat, she was one of my bridesmaids only two years ago and I can’t get over not being chosen as one of hers. As her wedding approaches, I just can’t stop being hurt by the fact that I always assumed I’d be in her wedding and I’m not. One of her bridesmaids is one of her co-workers that she is close too but has barely known for long. I don’t want to be petty but I almost don’t want to go to the wedding. —Still Upset
Your hurt makes sense and there’s no magic wand for its disappearance, though these situations are quite common. It may help to take a less black-and-white view. It’s not Bridesmaids Versus Everyone Else — it’s a spectrum, with each person mattering to the bride in their own unique way.
You’re not some drop in an anonymous ocean of inconsequentials. You’re someone whose role in her life is special in its own right. Being a guest at the wedding of someone you love is an experience with meaning in and of itself and, to be honest, sometimes the wedding party selection is a time capsule that does not age well — who knows what things will look like in two, five or 10 years? So, the here and now. Choose this stinging sensation as an opportunity to assess whether your growing apart is a natural phase of life, or whether it’s something you want to work on. Ultimately, it’s the trajectory of the lifelong friendship that matters most — whether you’re posing in a matching pewter dress or not.
Send your questions for Baggage Check to Dr. Andrea Bonior at email@example.com. She may answer them in an upcoming column in Express or in a live chat on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. at washingtonpost.com.
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