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I think my boyfriend is, at times, jealous of my happiness.
He has a torn cartilage in his knee and was asked to rest it till it became better. I, being someone that likes adventure, wanted to go on a trek during his recovery period. My boyfriend is aware of the fact that this trek means a lot to me. And it might not be possible to push it to a later date because I don’t know where I will be in life a few months from today.
Initially, my boyfriend said that I was supposed to wait for him to be fit enough to do the trek or he would feel ‘left out’. To which I agreed to do the trek at a later point with him again, even if it meant going to the same place twice.
My boyfriend also admitted to feeling jealous of me even exercising more than him during his recovery period. We have had small scuffles about this.
Putting my life on hold will not heal his leg miraculously. While life had dealt him a cruel blow, there is nothing more I can do besides take him to the doctor and remind him to take his meds and do the exercises.
Is it fair, dear Billi, for him to expect this of me?
I now feel scared that at a later date, this feeling of being “left out” might spill over into other aspects of our lives, like professional jealousy. I feel like my boyfriend cannot be happy for my success but might resort to thinking about what he lacks in his life. It worries me.
♠ ♠ ♠
Isn’t life funny? Funnier even than the daily horoscopes which tell you that you will get married, lose your job and become a reiki healer (or discover a talent for crochet) all in one day. But perhaps those wild horoscopes are really epigrams to say: anything can happen off despite our best laid and unlaid plans.
And that’s the fun of it too. What if, as soon as we were born we were handed a divine life-planner with all the diary entries filled in? Puttar, we would be bored. We would have nothing to look forward to. We would not get to feel that excitement we feel when we unexpectedly meet someone and fall in love with them and come to know that Aiya! they love us back too! As, maybe you felt when you met your boyfriend.
But life does not come with the pre-filled Filofax. And so it comes to be that you don’t know where you will be a few months from now. Just like your boyfriend could not have known a few months ago that he would break his cartilage.
It might be that unpredictability seems mostly useless. But one of the most handy things about life’s unpredictability is that without it you don’t learn much about other people. What’s even more interesting is that without the unpredictability of life, you don’t learn much about yourself either.
If life were not unpredictable, there would be no such thing as the difference between theory and practice either. How nice that would be, because then, being theoretical would be practical; and being practical would never compromise our theoretical ideals. That might be, what’s the word… perfect? No, I think the word I was searching for is boring.
So here’s a question to ask yourself. If you don’t know where life is going to take you a few months from now, what’s the guarantee — for him — that you will be able to go on this trek with him a few months from now?
Are you being selfish? Maybe, maybe. Is he being petulant and selfish? Maybe, possibly.
But these are modern times which very cleverly include ancient times in disguise also. So let us be systematic. What are the reasons you might be expected to give up the trek?
1.You have both planned to do something together and now you can’t do it together. The togetherness matters.
If the answer is 2 then without doubt this reason is #fail. If the answer is 1, then maybe you have come up against a value system impasse.
Maybe your boyfriend is jealous that you can do some things and he can’t. Maybe that’s an indication of his personality and you are right to worry about how this will play out in other circumstances. But instead of looking into the future, maybe have a look at the past. Has he demonstrated this kind of selfishness in the past in small ways? If not, then could there be some other reason than jealousy for his behaviour?
Maybe he is feeling sorry for himself and needs to be shaken out of it. Maybe he needs to be given a little bit of pampering — besides the appropriate support of going to the doctor and so on?
Ok, to cut to the chase, though that’s not the inelegant pace this Billi favours usually, the thing I’m getting at is this. It is stupid of him to expect you to not do some things that he can’t do, especially the daily exercise. But maybe wanting you not to go on a trek you’d planned to do together makes him feel like you don’t care about the things you do together in general? Is one thing impacting the other? Is it making him feel like you don’t care that much about him and wonder if it means that where there should be some togetherness there is going to be a no-nonsense pragmatic individualism?
And I suppose this brings us to the biggest question of them all — is it possible to show love and factor disappointment and irrational desire without giving up your individuality? In theory, yes. And in a wonderful coincidence — in practice also, yes!
Relationships turn a corner when confronted with these moments, where we negotiate, not only with each other, but with our own sense of theory and practice. What parts of our being are non-negotiable? What parts of our lives are we willing to do a little give and take in as we find our comfort levels together?
These are exciting and volatile times for relationships, where feminism has changed our expectations of how we will be with another person, but also expects us to do the heavy lifting in deciding how to shape these new relationships where togetherness does not preclude individual, open-ended journeys. But since the oldest relationship in the world is between the past and the future, naturally we also feel suspicious — is a fellow behaving like a man, in the retrograde sense, or like a person, which means vulnerable, petulant, stupid, but ultimately loving also, and asking for love also?
Ideas guide our lives. But they are only one of the things that guide our lives. Emotions do too. Love, kindness, sharing. Ideas and emotions modify each other, they are each other’s teachers and, of course, ours.
The only way to find out is by doing things and seeing where they go. And maybe it will be a mistake. Maybe you will learn one thing next month which you don’t mind and another thing next year which cancels everything. Or to rephrase the classic dialogue of that film from someone’s youth (not mine, darling), Maine Pyaar Kiya, “love mein, sometimes thank you, sometimes sorry. Maybe. So what? The only things that come with a pre-set are mostly peddled by the patriarchy (and they also contain all kinds of Jack-in-the-box situations).”
And despite its hazaar false promises this Google ki aulaad is useless when it comes to finding answers to such questions. You can find them yourself though, as my, um, special friend Baba Fats once told me (that story involved a trek too). All it takes to get started, is a discussion with the Billi, who, my lovelies, is back for a bit till she feels like (we’re like that, sorry. Or thank you).