Growing up in my family there was a clear delineation between adults and children. It was a very loving family, but the adults expected children to know and remain in their place. As an adult, I appreciate that family value and wished more parents would adopt it; too many bad kids running around.  But, I digress.

My family’s favorite line when a child attempted to “sit up” under a bunch of adults or get in a “grown folks’ conversation” was, “Boy, go get you some business!”  It was a cue to go find something to do to entertain you. And, that’s exactly what you did; you went and found some business.  More importantly, you got out of theirs.

My sister-friend has been dating a new guy for about five months. I call her a serial monogamous. She keeps a man, but can’t really keep a man. You know the type – a string of five or ten month relationships that never quite make the year. Each time, she gets completely consumed by the newest “the one” and we don’t see her for about five months or so. Knowing that there was a new sheriff in town, it surprised me that she asked me to meet for dinner.  My first thought, “They must’ve broken up already.” Well, actually when I got to dinner I discovered they had not, but she was clearly distressed.  After a few drinks, I reluctantly asked, “What’s wrong, you don’t seem like yourself?” (She can be passive aggressive and dramatic).

Lights. Camera. Action. On cue, she started crying. After she got herself together, she began to explain what she was going through with her man. Basically, he was a social guy and had a lot of friends – mostly male, but some lifelong female friends.  Moreover, he occasionally promoted events and parties in the city.  

They’d been arguing because her guy wanted to see his friends and would be out for the events he promoted. He had a standing date with a group of his closest friends every Tuesday and a monthly dinner club. And, he’d often go out for drinks with his co-workers after work. Naturally, my sister-friend didn’t like any of this. She wanted to be with him every free minute he had. It was how she thought it should be.

Unfortunately, she translated his lack of a desire to want to be with her every waking moment into his lack of wanting to be with her in general. I told her plainly, “Girl, you need get you some business!” She laughed and then, I explained what I meant. There was nothing wrong with her boyfriend wanting to see his friends and his co-workers.  Certainly, there was nothing wrong with him going to work – even if it was a party, it was still work.

From the way she explained it, his actions were normal and they still spent the majority of the week together. I told her that getting obsessively consumed in every relationship was the abnormal part. Instead, if she maintained a balance and kept doing the things that interested her AND hanging with her friends maybe she wouldn’t be concerned when he’s out enjoying his.

Of course, I couldn’t miss the opportunity for a more global conversation. “Maybe the reason why your relationships fizzle out after a few months is because you end up smothering guys,” I told her. Surprisingly, she said, “I know.”  Well, if she knew what was the problem? She said, “I just can’t help it!”

“I hate when people say they can’t “help” something,” I admonished. I went on to explain that by saying she couldn’t “help it” undermined the control she has over her life and inappropriately relieved her of responsibility for her actions. If she knew she smothered guys and her time demands were excessive then, why wouldn’t she make a change?

Quite frankly, I told her the problem was that she believed she needed a man in her life to feel complete. And, that her desperation was evidenced by her need for constant attention from him. I suggested she try something new this time around. Let him live his life and she should continue living hers that way when they come together there’s something to share. It would also give them both the freedom and autonomy that I think is necessary to sustain a long-term relationship.

We just had dinner last week so I’m not sure if she’s taking my advice. We did set up a friends’ night out with our other friends for the weekend so I’m hopeful. The guy she’s with now is pretty awesome (and normal) therefore I’m rooting for a change in her perspective and actions. We shall see.

New relationships usually come on hot and heavy. If you’re into someone you want to see him or her as often as possible. But, if you find yourself tripping too hard about your new partner wanting to do normal things like hang with his friends and co-workers you might want to chill out and go get you some business.