Q: My boyfriend and I have been together almost seven years, living together for three. It seems we are at the point of either deciding to get married and start a family or deciding to move on, but I honestly still don’t know. I can’t imagine my life without him, but I do have concerns about him, mostly around financial irresponsibility and occasional selfishness that I think might get in the way of him being a good father
A: It’s one thing to be a reckless spender who recognizes how his behavior can hurt a partnership and is trying to make changes. It’s another to be one who shrugs and brandishes his new iPad/iPhone/iWhoknowswhat whilst giving a one-finger salute.
Same for his selfishness: Does he see how that might have to be adjusted when there’s a screaming newborn? Or is his bubble impenetrable and he couldn’t care less? We can’t – and shouldn’t try to – fundamentally change who our partners are. But the best partnerships involve life goals that are similar enough that the partners themselves actually want to work together toward reaching them.
Q: A good friend of mine started dating my brother four months ago, and now all she ever does is complain about him. It has been awkward for me on all kinds of levels. I have no control over his behavior, and I don’t want to be responsible for it. She says I’m the only one she can talk to about this and we always used to talk about guys, so she should be more able to talk to me about it, not less.
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A: I see both sides here – she wants the friendship she’s always had with you, and you have the justifiable “ick” factor when it’s your brother she’s talking about. There are no easy solutions, but if she’s totally unhappy with him after only a few months, why are they still dating? Perhaps she’s editing what she tells you, overfocusing on the negative because she thinks you can help, or omitting the good stuff (see ick factor, above.)
But regardless of the guy, if a friend was always complaining about a new relationship, you’d presumably tell her, “I’m wondering if you’re having second thoughts about whether you should be together?” Your ulterior motives aside, it seems helpful to get her to think about that.