I’ve been in a long-distance relationship with a great guy for four years; we see each other about twice a month. He has a well-paying job, and I’m getting a professional degree. There have been a few times when he has decided to stay home and party with friends rather than come to see me. Last summer, he went on a European vacation with a female friend. I didn’t say very much about the trip because their friendship is completely platonic (though I wasn’t excited about it). He might go on another trip with her and has invited me, but the trips are always when I’m teaching. Another female friend just invited him to go on a group trip over Valentine’s weekend. We had planned to be together, but he’s thinking of doing that instead. He invited me, but it’s a six-hour drive each way for me. He says he would be OK with me going on similar trips because he trusts me. Am I unreasonable for being jealous and wishing that he would opt not to go?
Your boyfriend sounds very thoughtful to include you on his various journeys and social events. He must have sent you some lovely postcards from his trip abroad, and I’m sure you will be one of the first to get an invitation to his wedding when he finally decides to settle down. Sure, I believe long-distance relationships can work and that people can have close, platonic friendships with members of the opposite sex. But it sounds like what you have is a dwindling connection that perhaps keeps both of you from having to make decisions about what you actually want out of life. Maybe he can’t be bothered to coordinate his vacation schedule with yours specifically because it would crimp his ability to take long trips with other women. You’ve been involved but apart for four years, and you don’t even mention that you two are planning for the day when you can finally really be together. I’m not a big believer in Valentine’s Day, which is a good thing, since my darling husband traditionally gives me a bouquet of subway roses that are D.O.A. But if my beloved told me that on Valentine’s Day, instead of coming to see me, I could schlep for 12 hours to try to get a few minutes of his attention while he parties with his good (female) friend, then I might decide to tell him there’s someplace he can stick Cupid’s arrow. You two need to have a serious talk about where this relationship is heading—if you can schedule it in between his more pressing social engagements.
I am 25 years old, and I have been dating an amazing guy for three months. He is thoughtful, kind, and intelligent, and I feel fortunate to have him in my life. Here is the problem: He has let me know (though not actually saying the exact words) that he is in love with me, but while I like him very much, I am not quite in that place yet. I have told him that when I say those words, I want to really mean them. He has said that he appreciates my honesty, but I can tell that he is getting impatient. He has even set Valentine’s Day as some sort of deadline, although I don’t think that being “in love” is a prerequisite for celebrating the day together! It does not help that his engaged/married friends think that our relationship is moving at a snail’s pace. How can I get him to see that, while I care about him very much, my emotions will not conform to a deadline?
—Not in Love (Yet)
Since he hasn’t told you that he’s in love with you, he must be doing a lot of heavy hinting to have made his deadline clear. Has he said something like, “There is a word that is a synonym for ‘ardent feelings’ that I expect you to express reciprocally to me on Feb. 14, so that I am not embarrassed if I say it to you first”? Ah, the romance! At three months into a relationship, there are some people who know they’ve found the one; some people who hope this may be the one but would like to see more Consumer Reports-like long-term wear data before making a final purchase; and still other people who think, Jeez, it’s only been three months. What’s the rush? All of these are perfectly reasonable ways to feel, and it’s a bonus if both parties are in sync. What isn’t all right is for the guy you’re dating and his friends to tell you what you should be feeling, especially so soon after coupling up. Of course, you can spend Valentine’s Day together without having it mean you’ve wrapped up the Valentine’s Day question for the rest of your lives. You need to tell your beau that what you have so far is lovely, but a new relationship is a delicate thing, and he’s going to crush it by applying too much pressure. If he can’t back off and respect your feelings, then he’s given you a valuable insight into what he thinks love is.
I’m a 22-year-old senior at a liberal arts college. My parents and I are not particularly close, but I know that they are proud of my accomplishments, and we get along well. They are both are in their 60s and are staunch New England Republicans with traditional values. The problem is that I am gay. To my parents’ knowledge, I’ve never dated anyone. However, I have a wonderful girlfriend with whom I am deeply in love, and I want to be able to include her in family events, including my upcoming graduation. I am worried about my father in particular. When I’m at home, he and I often wind up watching television together, and he occasionally makes homophobic comments (about an obviously gay comedian, “I see another of those people found a job”). I try to make it clear that I don’t feel the same way he does, but it also makes me terrified to tell him the truth. My mother isn’t much better—she pointedly stopped watching Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show after O’Donnell came out. I just don’t know what to do.
It’s hard to believe that at some point your parents haven’t wondered to each other why you have never indicated the slightest interest in boys. If you don’t have a warm and fuzzy relationship with your parents, you do have a warm and respectful one, and you should simply deliver the news that you’re not straight in a straightforward way. The next time you’re home, sit them down and explain that you’ve known for a long time you’re a lesbian, and you no longer want to keep this from them. Since you say they are traditional New England Republicans, this should mean you are not subject to geysers of tears or rending of garments. Surely, at some level, this will be a confirmation of what they’ve suspected. Add that you are happy with your sexual orientation and, more than that, you are in love with someone wonderful. This is a lot of information for them to absorb, so let them ask whatever questions they have. As the conversation continues, you can bring up the fact that you want them to get to know your girlfriend and discuss what venue would be best for doing this. Yes, they will have to adjust their hopes and expectations, but let’s hope that one of the adjustments is to understand that one of “those” people is their beloved daughter.
I’ve been visiting a local restaurant regularly for the past four years. I met a waiter named “Brad” there, and we have always gotten along great. I had a slight crush on him for the first year or so and, as the years passed, my feelings grew. He has had relationship problems in the past and has stopped dating. He told me how attracted he is to me, but he hates the “dating ritual.” So for the past few months, we’d hang out occasionally outside the restaurant. Then, out of nowhere, he told me that he didn’t want to date me—he wanted to marry me! I laughed it off, only to find out he had planned an elaborate proposal. I know that I love him, so I said yes. We’ve never even been on date, but we know almost everything about each other because we’ve been friends for so long. However, during a recent family outing, I told everyone that we were engaged, and almost everyone was happy for me, until they found out that we’ve never dated. Now they are against it. I still plan to marry him. How should I handle this without getting upset?
I don’t understand why your family should be upset. This is a brilliant way to solve the wedding planning nightmare. Everyone will show up during Brad’s shift, the restaurant manager will pronounce you waiter and wife, and instead of gifts, they’ll all chip in for a big tip. Maybe your family is concerned that if your marriage follows the path of your courtship, your honeymoon is going to take place in a rest room. Possibly they’re worried that you two will set up housekeeping in the cleaning supply closet. It could be that they envision you giving birth at the cash register. The way you should handle this is to say to Brad that since it’s Valentine’s Day, you two should call off your “engagement” and instead make plans to go out on your first date. This should be followed by many, many more dates until you figure out if you actually want to spend your life with him, or if you prefer to tell him, “Just the check, please.”
Photograph of Prudie by Teresa Castracane.