Adventures In Dating

Meet Brad and Kari (we've changed their names), a real-life couple with a real-life dating dilemma
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You know it and we know it: There's no such thing as a perfect relationship. Every couple has a few issues they need to work through. Meet Brad and Kari (we've changed their names), a real-life couple with a real-life dating dilemma. We'll offer some advice to help them build a better relationship.

Brad Says:
She's Too Spontaneous
When Kari and I have a date, I like to know what we're going to do ahead of time. But Kari has this habit of planning something else and totally forgetting about the plans we'd already made. And it's getting on my nerves.

Take what happened a few weeks ago. I wanted to make a nice dinner for Kari. I told her twice that I wanted to cook for her on Friday night, including a reminder at lunch that day. I thought I made it pretty clear that this was something I really wanted to do.

So anyway, I went to the grocery store that afternoon and bought a bunch of stuff to make a great dinner. I even bought her a rose.

But when I got to her house, she told me her friend Sarah had called to see if we wanted to eat together, and Kari had said, "Sure." All my plans went out the window, and I was ticked. I felt like Kari was completely insensitive to something that was important to me. I mean, I like her spontaneous nature, but I don't like it when she messes up our plans.

Kari Says:
He's So Inflexible
When Sarah asked if we wanted to eat at her place, I thought Brad would appreciate not having to worry about cooking. I figured he could always fix dinner another night. Besides, this change in plans would give Brad and me more time to do something together after dinner, like go for a bike ride or hit the mall.

When I told Brad about eating with Sarah, I couldn't understand why he got so upset. He hadn't made his dinner plans sound all that important. I thought he was just cooking so we'd have something to eat. It didn't seem like a problem to do something different.

But Brad can get so caught up in sticking with a plan. I don't know why he can't just go with the flow and do whatever. We still hung out together that night—isn't that what's important?

Carla's Advice:
Brad and Kari are experiencing something pretty typical in relationships: false assumptions. Basically, they both assume the other person thinks and feels the way they do. For instance, Brad assumed Kari was as set about their plans as he was. Kari assumed Brad just wanted dinner. Those assumptions are what got them into this little tiff.

The truth is, Brad and Kari think and feel differently, especially when it comes to making plans. Obviously, Brad likes to plan ahead, organize the details and follow through on the plan. Kari, on the other hand, is cool with just hanging out with Brad and doing whatever sounds fun at the time. They're different people with different ways of approaching their dates.

To prevent incidents like this dinner disaster, Brad and Kari need to strike a balance. They each need to make an effort to understand the other person's approach. When Brad makes plans, Kari can ask him straight out if those plans are flexible. If he says no, Kari needs to stick with Brad's plan, or at least agree to talk with him before changing their plans. That way, she can avoid the last-minute changes that bug Brad so much.

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