Q: dear diva, i’m a college student and have been seeing this girl for a little over a year. & it’s been great … for the most part. there’s just one little problem: i’m super good at time management (i.e. i can coordinate women’s history month, get to all of my classes & do all the work for them, spend time with my friends, do a few other extra curriculars, & still get 7 hours of sleep) and she is hopelessly disorganized. she misses classes, doesn’t get her work done, and when we try to plan something together (like just eating lunch together) she’s either really late or doesn’t show up at all. i try to talk to her about it because i don’t enjoy waiting around for her all the time and i don’t think i should have to, but she just gets really upset because she wants to change but just can’t get motivated. meanwhile, my patience is wearing thin. what to do?
Diva Says: There’s give and take in any relationship. I’m guessing you’re more than a bit on the anal-retentive side, and that she’s more than a bit on the, er… shall we say… “carefree” side. Those are two extreme opposites and it’s going to take some work on both sides of the relationship to lessen the strain of this particular point of contention.
To you, her being late and (especially) not showing up at all shows an extraordinary amount of disrespect. That’s quite valid. Anyone would be upset by that, though the levels of upset may vary from person to person. And I can certainly see where it would grate on the nerves if it was a consistent habit.
To her, in the midst of whatever it is that’s making her life so difficult to organize, your constant ‘nagging’ about being here, being there, doing this, doing that – it may come across as a bit bossy, and it may actually be complicating things. If she’s getting upset when you bring it up, she may actually be subconsciously rebelling against your demands (however reasonable they may seem to you) and it may be contributing to her timekeeping negligence.
To me, it sounds like your girl may have a bit of a depression problem. Does she have too much on her plate? Is she taking too many classes, or working too many jobs? Granted, she may not be attending all of her classes or going to work all the time, or even keeping up her social obligations — but can you look at her life and see where, were she actually meeting all of her ‘requirements’, that she may be overwhelmed? Sometimes the stress of just KNOWING that you have so much STUFF TO DO can create this black cloud that’s so draining in and of itself that when it’s time to actually get around to doing all the STUFF TO DO, you may find yourself completely drained of energy.
Is there a way that you can *gently* help her get a few things organized? Sometimes the *approach* you use when trying to employ some of those innate problem-solving skills can be more important than the actual skills themselves.
If you come to her and say “Look, I know you’re really stressed out, and I know you’re exhausted. I know that my demands for your time haven’t really helped much, either. But the fact remains that I am your girlfriend and I love you. I need to be able to have time with you, and to trust that you’re going to keep your word to me. So, is there anything I can do to help you so that we can have more time together?”
Ya’ may not want to use those exact words, but you get the point. Right now it’s a “ME, the responsible, neglected girlfriend” versus “YOU, the flakey, disappointing slacker.” – if you turn it into a “WE, the couple that needs more time together” – it’s far less intimidating.