LOVE SMUDGED: Defining Differences

You hear it all of the time – opposites attract and therefore, make the best couples. But recently, I’ve been debating whether or not this is accurate. Why? Well, because my boyfriend and I are so extremely different from one another that it often times causes little (and sometimes big) bumps in our relationship.

I grew up with the mentality that to get where you want to go, in my case hopefully a national magazine, you need to work. Not just get done your homework on time, pass all of your classes and make sure your room is clean work. No, I mean straight A’s in Advanced Placement classes, leader of at least one organization and too-busy-to-even-breathe work.

I’m the type of overly obsessive perfectionist who never leaves her planner at home. I leave, breathe and sleep organization to make sure I can go above and beyond my set goals. I’ve had three internships, I’ve been dancing for the past 18 years, I hold a high GPA and I drive my friends completely insane with my planning for the future. In high school, I was outside of AP biology an hour before class and stayed an hour late, refusing to get anything other than a five on my test. And in college, I gave up sleep to make sure I could conquer eighteen credits, an internship, a job and several writing gigs.

On the other hand, my boyfriend started out early with the mentality that living life carefree held precedence over any sort of stressful concerns regarding grades, money or unappealing commitments. Now, I promise you, he is one of the most intelligent men I have ever met. He sees the world more clearly than I ever could and understands relationships, people and feelings better than most people I know. But junior year of high school, he made the decision to drop out.

With a group of friends more interested in pills than chemistry formulas, he fell into a life full of drugs and depression. Fortunately, he pulled himself out of the mess, cleaned up his act, got his GED and started working two jobs. That’s around the time I came into his life, bursting with ambition as my junior year of college began.

With my annoying motivational speeches and my consistent reminders that he could use his passion for music to better his life, he enrolled in community college. But, still, his living-for-today attitude shines through, as he doesn’t concern himself with grades or anything close to perfect attendance.

I now find myself debating the longevity of our relationship. I have a year until graduation, and I plan on immediately moving to New York (where I currently reside), and he will still be at the starting line of his education run.

Could we really make it work when I have a full-time job, and he’s waking up at twelve? I’m not sure, and the closer that time gets, the more I find myself nagging him about getting his act together, taking on more classes and learning to wake up to the ringing of the alarm clock rather than twenty calls in a row from me and his Mom.

The problem is, after 21 years, you tend to get pretty stuck in your ways. No matter how many times he tells me to lighten up or to not be too hard on myself, I still beat myself up over the fact that I don’t have a perfect 4.0. And despite my regular complaints about his irresponsibility, he still will sleep through a class or wait until the morning of an exam to open up his textbook.

In the beginning of our romance, we both learned from each other, adoring one another’s opposing characteristics. But have we reached our breaking point? Is what once attracted us to one another now becoming our fatal flaw? I’m not sure. All I know is that I only have one year until I’m thrown into the real world, and I want my love to be on the same playing field of me, gearing up for adulthood.

On the flipside, I might be putting too much emphasis on the success of my partner. This could just be another incident of me trying to control things that are eternally out of my control. And from my experience, guys who have the same ambition as me tend to be assholes – self-obsessed, preoccupied and unaware of the people affected by their actions. Not quite sure what that says about me.

I still don’t have the answer, and I’m not sure if I will. I guess I should take some advice from my beau and take things one day at a time.

— Cary Carr

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