*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Supporting your relationship partner in every way can sometimes take an unusual turn, and when you're feeling exhausted, but they still won't stop calling you at the wrong hour, arguments will be hard to avoid.
How would you react if your partner had trouble falling asleep and always called you in the middle of the night, just when you needed to get some rest yourself?
Would you go on talking to them like that for several nights, or would you tell them it's not ok to make you feel tired just because they can't sleep?
My friend Alicia, who lives in Phoenix, Arizona, has been dating her boyfriend, Dean, for eight months. They were friends for a few weeks before starting a relationship, but they moved fast to dating because they liked each other a lot.
"I didn't see any point in waiting if we got along so well. And I had just left my previous boyfriend and liked how he supported me and stayed positive every time I felt a bit sad. Why wouldn't I go on being with him, not just as my friend but as a partner?" Alicia said.
After she gave him her phone number, Dean didn't text her very soon. He took three days to send the first message, but after that, they kept in touch every day. It only took them a week to move on from texts to calls, and a few days later, they began meeting for coffee or getting their groceries together in Phoenix.
"It was just something casual at that point. We were friends and wanted to get to know more about our lives and what we liked in a relationship with no pressure to dress up or introduce anyone to our parents. It went great, and I felt like he appreciated me," Alicia said.
Five weeks after they began meeting in Phoenix, Dean asked her out on a date. She said yes, and they had dinner at their favorite restaurant.
"It was a date but not the traditional kind because we already knew each other well, and we could laugh and have fun. I didn't feel like I needed to impress him since he knew me, and I already liked him and didn't care when he spilled coffee all over the table. It was just one more reason to laugh, and we didn't let that end our evening," Alicia said.
They kept going out three times a week, and sometimes they spent the weekend on a trip if they got too busy with work projects.
"I didn't mind if he had to do overtime, and he supported me to give my time to my work projects, so if our weekdays were filled with assignments, we just took the weekend to ourselves and planned a trip or relaxed having walks and shopping in Phoenix. Our relationship wasn't stressful at all, and I valued that," Alicia said.
Once six months passed like this, Dean asked Alicia if she wanted to move in together. She didn't agree because she felt that was a step to take only after they got married.
"Marriage and keeping those values my parents taught me meant a lot to me. And I wanted a commitment for the long run before I was ready to do that. He understood and didn't keep asking me, and our relationship didn't become distant because of it," Alicia said.
Even though they had similar tastes and got along well, there was one thing Alicia disliked about her boyfriend. Dean had difficulty falling asleep, and he usually needed to talk to someone at night so he could get some rest.
"He calls me when he can't sleep; I want to rest a full night, but that's just not happening. It used to be like two nights a week, but now he calls me every night, and I can't fall asleep right after because I keep thinking about what he said, and I'm annoyed. Why can't he just read a book or something? This is unfair. I love him, but I need to sleep, and supporting him doesn't mean exhausting me," Alicia said.
She tried to explain to Dean that it wasn't ok to keep waking her up at night, but he pointed out that was part of being in a relationship and that being uncomfortable was to be expected sometimes. Alicia isn't sure about that, and she thinks he would avoid waking her up if he really cared about her.
"He knows I have to work just like him. And the longer he keeps me awake, the more tired I'm going to be the next day. Sometimes I think he's doing it on purpose. If he can't sleep, he won't let me do it either. It's good we don't live together in Phoenix, at least. I don't think I'd be able to sleep there more than an hour at this rate," Alicia said.
She talked about what's going on with her friends, and they think she should have a clear talk with Dean and tell him she doesn't like what he's doing. And that respecting her resting time matters to her in the long run.
What do you think about this situation? Is it fair for Dean to keep calling his girlfriend when he can't sleep and make her feel tired too, or should he find another solution for this issue? Should Alicia focus on adding something positive to their relationship instead of complaining about her boyfriend's sleep issues and when he calls her?