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Parallax - Advice

May 5, 2003

Communication

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Why can't people communicate? Why do they make assumptions? Instead of talking things over with the other person involved, they postulate and speculate and create all sorts of angst. This week, our letter writers have plenty of ideas, but no one communicates. Our conversational gurus know what to say.


Time for a talk?
Big time.
 Date: 05/05/03

Flirting with disaster.
Such unfriendly behavior!
 Date: 05/05/03

Desperate times.
Desperate measures.
 Date: 05/05/03

More from last week...
Bar

Time for a talk?

Dear Conversely,

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I have been in a five-year meaningful relationship with a girl whom I love with all my heart. Until recently we happily spent almost all of our free time together. I had time with my friends—sometimes she was included, sometimes not. She said I was all she needed and she never made an attempt to keep friends around. However, over the past ten days, she has become very resentful of my friendships and has started to befriend people she previously said she didn't like—both men and women (some are customers she met through her retail job). Two or three nights a week, she's out past one a.m.; previously, she was in bed by ten p.m. She sometimes accepts rides home from her male customers and sits in our parking lot for two to three hours talking. She's made no attempt to include me in any of this 'new' life. Am I just being the crazed jealous boyfriend about all this as she thinks I am? Or do you think there is something that the two of us should be talking about?


Her view:

Dear Homeboy,

Your girl is playing tit for tat. She is unhappy that you have a life outside the relationship and she doesn't. To create an equitable situation she could do one of two things—get her own life, so your devotion is 'even,' or get a new boyfriend for whom she is the universe. She chose the former.

Your concern is warranted. You have, in fact, been ratcheted down in her world from five-year-relationship guy whom she adores, to speculative-courting candidate. And frankly, she is not obligated to spend any particular percentage of her time with you.

You will become less important as she surrounds herself with new entertainment buddies. You can bet she is also having a bit of a look-see to identify an appropriate suitor who may prove more devoted.

The upshot for you is a tacit presentation of an ultimatum. You can codify your commitment (yes, I mean the M-word or some significant step) or have her foray into a little market check. After five years it's perfectly reasonable.

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His view:

Dear Homeboy,

Having her turn on a dime after five years of steady-as-she-goes is cause for alarm. Either she is passive-aggressive—and this now is her much-delayed aggressive phase—or five years of contentment have blinded you to the signs.

In the latter scenario (which you should consider carefully if you haven't already), the latest developments are simply the culmination of a slow build-up, which was so gradual you failed to see it coming. For some reason (most probably something completely unrelated to the issue of 'having friends and going out') she now feels the need to go out and party and leave you out of it.

Let's see. Let's scratch our heads. What could it be? Maybe you have been going out for so long that you no longer treat her the way you used to. She's feeling neglected. Maybe she's thinking it's time for you to put up, and this is her way (admittedly, not the most intelligent or effective) to tell you she wants more commitment. What else? Maybe she watched too much Oprah and this is the result.

In any case, you should do two things. One is to speak with her. It sounds like that particular course of action has not yet taken place. Another is to avoid falling victim to her tactics. If there's a problem, have her tell you what it is—none of these 180-degree blackmail-tantrums. Unless, of course, you like her way of bringing problems out into the open.

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40% of Men agree with HER VIEW and 60% with HIS VIEW.

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