I like fixer-uppers, but not in a boyfriend

Can this home improvement buff fix a cranky boyfriend?

Get Season 3 of Meredith Goldstein’s Love Letters podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen.

Q. I’ve had a boyfriend of a few years whom I’ve known for 16 years. I love him but he doesn’t support my interests. My biggest passion is home renovation. Two years ago, I moved into an old apartment because I just loved the details. Things needed to be fixed but I had plans for it, and my landlord didn’t complain. But every time I started working on improvements, my boyfriend started criticizing, complaining . . . giving unwanted advice.

It just feels like no matter how much time I spend on this work and how proud I am of it, he’s got nothing nice to say. It’s not just that — apparently some of my cooking isn’t how he believes it should be. I never do home improvement projects when he’s around anymore because he just stands there critiquing. He criticizes his friends, too.

At times I wonder if I chose the right guy, or if I could find someone who would love me for being unafraid of trying new things and bringing ideas to life instead of killing all the fun and excitement. I make him dinner, his coffee, pick up the candy he likes, support his hobbies, his work.


I don’t know what I should think about my boyfriend’s behavior — or how to deal with it.

– under construction

A. Relationships are a bit like houses and apartments. Sometimes they require a lot of renovation and maintenance. But it’s all about the bones of the place, right? If the bones are there, the labor is worth it because it’s part of a greater investment. It makes sense to tear down a wall if rebuilding it will make a great structure stronger.


But enough metaphor.

Your relationship seems to be about shared history. You’ve known this man for a long time, so when you got together, it probably felt pretty serious. But that doesn’t mean it should be.

You want a partner who supports your passions, or at least doesn’t get in the way of them. You also want someone who can recognize the strength in others. Meanwhile, your boyfriend is telling everyone they’re doing it wrong.

The reality is, you’re already imagining what another partner could bring to your life. You’re hiding your work from your boyfriend so you don’t have to hear his response to it. You might not find a great new significant other the second you break up with this one, but . . . imagine the wonderful things (and projects!) you could do if you were single.

– Meredith


Other than habit, why are you with him? WIZEN

I was married to a guy for 12 years who loved to tell me that I was doing everything wrong. He didn’t like how I painted walls, how I cooked meals, how I traveled. After finally divorcing, I was able to enjoy the things that made me feel joy again. EMILITHAJONES

Life is too short. You should be with someone who loves you unconditionally. Otherwise you are just settling. MRLOVEGOD

You’re putting your time and money into renovating an apartment that you don’t even own? CONCERNEDCITIZENONDUTY

Get Season 3 of Meredith Goldstein’s Love Letters podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen. Submit questions your for Meredith here.