What would your reaction be if…

“I quit school?”


M finally opened up to me last night, which was so interesting considering yesterday’s post (which got so many many comments, thank you all for your feedback, it is all so appreciated!).

This was after he made me a delicious dinner, complete with one of my favorite wines. He was in a very amorous mood and kept repeating how much he missed me (we last saw each other Monday morning), and we had a really great evening (complete with him squirming as the American Idol contestants sang horrifically! I tuned in for a few just because Canadian Bald Guy said on Twitter that this year seemed good so far, judge-wise. We apparently just saw a few of the worst of the worst! Was hilarious watching M get embarrassed *for* them though!).

He looked at me, and I’m not sure if it was just because it was late, but his eyes were a little bit red. And he said:

“I’m going to ask you something and it’s not because I doubt you or your feelings for me or anything. Okay? What would your reaction be if I quit school? Would you think any differently of me?”

Me: “No, of course not! Why would you think that?”

Obviously, his PhD program is hitting him hard right now and he knows he has a long road ahead of him (yet a relatively short amount of time to complete it) and that, combined with work stress, a friendship that is causing some drama, and the potential for needing to move (more on that later, but basically, his lease is up in another month and a half and it’ll go up a lot) smack dab when his thesis is due…hello, perfect storm of stress!

He said it’s something that crossed his mind, but that the ramifications are far greater than the work he needs to put in and he’ll likely stick it out. I think that was honestly his way of saying “look, I am going to really need to focus on this project right now and it might eat into our time together short-term,” without actually saying it.  And I know he’d rather spend the time with me and that is his struggle. Saying no. (which we know is his issue anyway) I think it is something I will need to help him with – saying no to me and/or prioritizing when he gets his school work done so it doesn’t interfere or realizing that he can absolutely do his homework when he’s with me (I have repeated this about 15 days to Sunday, mind you). The trick for me will be not pushing the homework on him like a drill sargeant, but reminding him that it’s okay to do it, whenever he needs to.

The fact that he opened up to me without my really having to prod was a huge step and I felt so touched that he finally did and he felt better afterwards. And to think he would think I’d think differently of him if he didn’t get his PhD is something else…he puts so much pressure on himself to perform and be that person he thinks everyone wants him to be, when in reality, he’s perfect just the way he is. Maybe he has some Type A overachiever in him after all (since the rest of him is completely Type B and I love that about him. Good complement to me, no?).

Last night was a big first step.




41 thoughts on “What would your reaction be if…

  1. That’s really great. I think it’s a *huge* sign he opened up. And it probably is his way of saying I will be focusing on this other project, but it could be that he’s saying I need your help staying sane through this…helping to make the right choices and not getting angry at him over it. I’m sure it’s a relief to him if you are helping him 🙂

    1. I think it’s huge too. And I also agree with you that he also needs me to help him stay sane. He’s told me before that I am the one constant in his life that gives him hope that there are good people out there. Speaks volumes to me about his past relationships etc.

    1. Thank you! I think it is too. I’m glad he is supportive of me with my job with tons of travel, and I can be nothing but supportive of what he does. It’s just such a great thing.

  2. I am sad for him that he even WONDERED if you might see him differently. I think that tells you much about the lack of support in his previous relationship(s). Good for you for setting him straight. I think this is a good sign of the openness to come.

    1. I know! I am sad too that he even wondered what my reaction would be! Awful. His face looked genuinely worried. I was actually relieved at what he asked! It seemed so grave!

  3. I have quite a few thoughts… First, I’m not so sure it is his way of telling you he needs to focus on school work. I think he may actually be dreaming of quitting school – not that he necessarily would. My guess is that he wants to gage your reaction. Sometimes it’s nice just to know it’s an option, even if it isn’t one you’ll take. He sounds a little like me when he asks this question!

    Also, I think we all forget this because you guys are so happy together, but this is still pretty new. It’s only natural to wonder things like that. It’s normal and I’m sure he doesn’t truly think you’d hate him if he quit. He just wants some reassurance to prove to himself that you love him no matter what.

    Sometimes the random out of the blue comments like that make all the holding in our men do worth it. You finally know a bit of what’s been going on inside his head. And it sounds like you reacted quite well so he may be more likely to open up like this in the future.

    1. You’re right – it still is relatively new (but hey, 5-ish months counts for something, right? :)), and he may really be thinking about quitting. I don’t doubt that. I do think that in a way he is saying that he needs time to focus on work, but doesn’t really want to (catch-22 I guess), given he’d rather see me or do other things (well, who wouldn’t, right?) I also agree with your last sentiment, all that holding in led to this and now I completely ‘get’ what’s been going on in his head.

  4. Wow that’s a big step with M opening up to you. Maybe at this stage, he’s just getting a bit overwhelmed with his studies and his panicking and wondering how he’ll fit it all in. Maybe he needs help with a study roster or something, so then he could know when he’s studying, working and spending time with you etc. It’s great that you’re being supportive and I’m sure you guys will work out the best plan for M’s studies.

  5. So glad he opened up to you about his stress. I think it’s great that you told him you wouldn’t think any less of him, and that you still encouraged him to stick with it. It does sound to me though like he needs to maybe let go of that dramatic friendship. Friendships shouldn’t be causing that much stress.

    1. I agree on the friendship thing – but it is on of his two very best friends. They are going to talk about it (and that story is for another day!), but he also agrees on drama-less friendships!

  6. So many similar issues my dear! Some of it is the timeline –where you start to make that transition from dating/honeymoon stage to more of a routine (and the expectations you each have within that). But as for personality! I am also learning (for the first time) about the man who can’t say no. And I find it difficult to juggle his needs against my own –especially when I am still learning what HIS are. Nice to compare notes 🙂

    1. It IS nice to compare notes!! I will have to read through some more of your recent posts, but it sounds like we are going through very similar things right now. Thanks for dropping in!

  7. Aw! Wow, poor guy. That exhausts me just to think about it! I wonder how he manages stress. I wonder if he’s afraid of being short with you or frustrated or too tired. He so wants to please you!

    Good for you for allowing him his feelings! Good for you for reminding him that you’re not going anywhere.

    1. I think he manages stress by ignoring it, or holding it in, which isn’t the best way to do it, but he amazingly does handle stress really well. thankfully, right?! I am trying to allow his feelings and hope he knows I am staying put 🙂

      1. You might also help him to release aggression in other ways too. Like strength training or something competitive you two can do together. Maybe play a game or bowl or something where he can be the competitive “guy”. It will help him to feel like he has control over something.

        1. That’s a neat idea. Maybe he will do Group Kick with me and I can kick his ass…just kidding 😉 But we do work out together, so I could probably find a way to do something like that!

  8. Awh this is good. I’m glad he felt comfortable enough to go to you with that idea. Hardscape did about the same thing over Christmas asking what I would think about him going back to school. Is this horrible to say?….sometimes I think it is easier to be supportive when you aren’t married and there aren’t a million “together” factors in it.

  9. He HAS to have some type a in him to be getting his PhD!! I think it’s great that he opened up though. I think it can also be a good test of being around each other but him doing his school work, while you do your thing, but co-existing. You know? Not just having to entertain all the time.

    1. True, true. He does. Maybe just different than my version of Type A 😉 It is good that we can ‘co-exist’ with each other without having to entertain each other. We do that now anyway, but I think it’s a little different when he really just has to focus. Means I can’t bug him 😉

  10. sounds like a good clear-the-air conversation. those can be so, so fulfilling. i sorta had the feeling that there were a ton of similarities in our relationships, given the scarily identical nature of our posts sometimes. 🙂 kinda weird, eh?

  11. Yay for breakthroughs! What a major step forward. I bet him opening up like that took a lot of stress he was bottling up. Hopefully he’ll start doing it more and more and then maybe his stresses won’t be so bad.

  12. I didn’t read through all the comments. I’ve been way too late to the party these days. Sorry if I repeat what other people said. My first reaction would be to want to give him a huge hug. If I was truly in love (which you are) his happiness would come before ANYTHING else. Poor guy has a lot going on. He’s lucky to have you to lean on.

    1. Don’t worry about being late to the game! there were a lot of comments. But yes, his happiness is a priority for me, and I will do what I need to, to support him (obviously, within reason!) 🙂

  13. Please forgive me for putting on my therapist hat for a minute.

    It’s interesting to me the language he used here. He didn’t say, “I’m thinking of quitting…” but “What would YOUR reaction be…” He seems to be very invested in your approval to what is essentially his own life decision. He’s not revealing (examining?) what HE really wants, but is trying to gauge your reaction.

    I think that was honestly his way of saying “look, I am going to really need to focus on this project right now and it might eat into our time together short-term,” without actually saying it.

    Could you ask him this outright? It makes me uncomfortable when people assume what someone else really means. I think more important than getting him to open up more would be to work on communicating clearly so that that you know exactly what he means when he does try to open up.

    Just my opinion. [Taking off my therapist hat, putting on my snarky one.] Tell him you’d never date a quitter, and then lecture him about The Secret. That’ll get him to open up! 🙂

    1. You know what? You hit the nail on the head, actually. I think he DOES look for my approval/reaction more so than his own, and to me, that isn’t the right order. He should put his needs first, as anyone should, before mine. I know it’s just his nature, in some ways, but in others, I think he needs to see that it is absolutely okay to put himself first too sometimes. I can see how others in his life could walk all over him for that part of him, and I never, ever would, but I do worry about that, even though I do love how giving he really is.

      …The Secret! LOL! That made me giggle 😉

  14. I could read your writing all day! You’re so … honest. I bet you get that a lot. You’re also so interesting to read and insightful. I love it!

    1. Aww! Thank you so much for the compliment and for visiting 🙂 I am so glad you like my blog, hope to see you around these parts more! And I’ll do the same!!

  15. I don’t think it’s being a drill sergeant as much as it is being a cheerleader. If they know you are behind them in their goals and not at odds with them (even when its not on purpose and just cause you want to spend time with him) They appreciate support and being lifted in up in what they’ve chosen to do and encouraged. Maybe it was less about saying he wouldn’t be spending the time with you as much as it was saying…I need a little encouragement cause I’m stressed. But a very good step for sure! That’s what it’s all about – COMMUNICATION!

    1. I think you are right on the encouragement thing for sure. Ever since, he’s been really focused on it, and more enthusiastic. I love seeing it, and his work is simply the best. Communication is key, and I know YOU know that first-hand!!

  16. I’m glad that he was able to open up to you, although I wish that he didn’t feel so much pressure about his program. Here’s to less pressure and a clear path for him and continued communication for you both. xoxo

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