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Dear Miss Information,
I started dating my boyfriend last July. He's really sweet and good to me, and I love him. In November, he found out his dad has an incurable disease. He might live a couple of years, but it could be a couple of months. It's looking more and more like the latter, unfortunately. He's old, has a bunch of other conditions, and has been in the ICU for about a week.
Anyway, I've started to question my relationship with my boyfriend. We really weren't dating for long before all of this with his dad happened. I don't want to break up with him while he's in the middle of this shit situation, but I also am afraid that if I stick it out with him for an indefinite amount of time, it will hurt him more to break up with him later. He doesn't have many friends and barely any family — I feel like I'm literally the only one he has contact with sometimes. But at the same time, I don't know if I really want to break up with him, or if I'm just grumpy and irritated because he's always in a terrible mood because of his dad. (Terrible person alert?)
Can you shed any light on the situation? — Grief By Proxy
Dear Grief By Proxy,
You’re carrying a heavy burden. Let’s see if we can lighten that load. Start with what you don’t have any control over: one, the father’s poor health and two, your boyfriend’s lack of social skills. Both existed long before you and your guy ever met and cannot be fixed by you, even if you were the love child of Sigmund Freud and Florence Nightingale. You have no more business setting your boyfriend up on man dates than you do giving his father a catheter.
You can be upset by these things, but don’t fool yourself into thinking you have an influence on either. Your boyfriend’s dad is going to go when it’s his time. Your boyfriend is going to develop a social network when he’s willing or able to do the work it takes to get there. You could say that dumping someone who has no safety net is cruel, but that same person could turn around years later and tell you it was the exact kind of kick in the ass they needed. Now that the above are out of the picture, let’s look at this for what it is: a relationship between two people. The questions you should be asking yourself are the same as they are for anyone else considering a breakup:
1. Do I love this person?
2. Do I see a long-term future with them?
3. Do I admire and respect their character?
You wonder whether his reaction to his father's condition is influencing your feelings, and that's a valid question. However, even when a person is going through something difficult, you’re still getting vital information. How do they deal with external stressors? What are their coping mechanisms? Even if they’re behaving like a grief-addled fuckwad, you should be able to see past everything that’s going on if you’re genuinely in love and that person’s a good match.
I can’t answer that for you, but I do agree that there’s no point in staying just to stay. You’re not a terrible person, it just sounds like you’re frustrated. You were thrown into the role of emotional rock very early in the relationship. Instead of thinking about everyone else’s feelings, tune into your own. It may take some time, but your gut will lead you to the right place. If your gut’s being an elusive diva, try mentally imagining both staying together and breaking up – with no heartache or pain for either scenario. Now imagine the decision would be made by the flip of a coin. Which future outcome would you secretly hope for?
Readers, have you ever been with someone undergoing a major life event? What helped save (or speed the end of) the relationship?
Dear Miss Information,
I've been in a committed long distance relationship for the last three months with an amazing guy; all was well until I heard about his history with his so-called best friend. After constantly hearing about her, I asked him about their relationship. It took a while for him to let it out, but finally he confessed that he had sex with her not once, but multiple times. It wasn't until later that I learned that they had dated and things didn’t end until a month before we met.
Learning all of this has completely changed my view on this relationship. I constantly feel insecure. I can't get over the fact that he spends so much time with her. I find myself accusing him of still having feelings for her and questioning him about their relationship. I'm completely in love with him, and he claims to feel the same way about me, yet I still find it hard to trust him. He even still shares a bed with her occasionally and they’re attached at the hip.
I feel completely disposable, like I will never mean what she means to him. He never finds time to visit me, even though I only live a few hours away. Apparently he wants to find a job first, but I feel like if he really wanted to come he'd come by now. He has proposed coming to visit if he can get her to take him. I was okay with that as long as it got him here faster, but I really don't want to meet her. He expects her to stay with us the whole day, which I am not cool with. I really just don't want to see her or even acknowledge her existence. Do I really have something to worry about or am I just being a jealous bitch? — Friend Bested
Dear Friend Bested,
Best friends of the opposite sex are cool, but best friends who are exes and play snuggle bunnies? No fucking way. Maybe under certain unusual circumstances. A group road trip. A blizzard. Burning Man. Otherwise, you totally have a right to be annoyed if it’s happening on a regular basis. There’s a reason I don’t have sleepovers with my boss or take baths with my next door neighbor. Social boundaries exist for a reason — they tell us what kind of people we’re dealing with and they strengthen our relationships.
Ex-girlfriend notwithstanding, what are you doing with someone who lacks both a job and transportation? I’m guessing you’re in college, which makes it a little more understandable. Note that I said a “little.” He can’t work a part-time job? Sell some cash for gold? Collect deposits on beer cans? And what about you — are you doing everything you can to get to his side of the state or are you too busy with your full-time job as Professional Boyfriend Interrogator?
You can use this girl as a boyfriend delivery service, but that means you have to be civil to her and help her find a place to stay. You can’t expect her to come up and drop him off without having any sort of interaction. I agree that putting her in your bed is going above and beyond, but a couch or a nearby friend’s house is reasonable. Spend a small part of the weekend with her because it’s the polite thing to do, but after that you and your boyfriend should get some alone together. If your boyfriend can’t agree to concessions like that, I’d question who he’s really there to see — you or the ex-girlfriend? He can see her anytime. You? Not the same.
It’s tough to tell whether your boyfriend is one of those well-meaning, pie-in-the-sky types who simply wants a close opposite sex friend, or a complete sleaze who wants to date you while maintaining an on-and-off dalliance with his ex. The fact that he’s making very little effort to come see you worries me a bit. Then again, who wants to come see someone who makes them feel constantly badgered? Instead of these little arguments, you need to have a major hash-out session where you both agree to modify your behavior: he promises not to have any more private sleepovers, you promise to go a certain number of days a week without any best-friend-related questions. Compromise. That’s how you get there.
Readers, would you be cool with your partner sleeping in the same bed with someone they used to date? Why or why not?