Happening:

Life Hax


Carolyn Hax

My boyfriend went from a naked hippie to an MBA student. Help!

Ar 180319563
Pixabay
Ar 180319563
Pixabay

How do you know if someone has “changed”? My boyfriend used to belong to a naked hippie co-op and now he’s an “I [heart] globalization!” MBA student. I don’t mean to generalize (there can be naked business jerks, too!) and it’s not as pat as saying his politics are different, but there are other manifestations – less time and consideration to “old” friends and to me, less caring about issues he used to care about (feminism, environment, etc.). Should I be more openminded? He doesn’t think he’s changed and says I should be more understanding.Naked hippies and businessmenSo, overboard liberal goes overboard stiff? I’d say he’s changed ... not at all.

Our choices may define us, but that doesn’t mean you can know someone by parsing each little choice. Step back, and what do you see? I see a guy caught up in getting caught up. When the MBA fury fades, expect some other extreme will be next. NASCAR, perhaps, or the lead in a drag cabaret.

Look past the surface traits and prevailing breezes, see who he is at his core, and then ask if you’re really in love.

Carolyn Hax was away. The following first appeared on Nov. 12, 2003:Why are all nice girls ugly and all the pretty girls not nice? (Though I suppose it’s true of the guys, too, but personally I’m less interested in them.) Someone once explained to me that pretty girls get so much attention because of the way they look that they never needed to be friendly, while the ugly girls know the only way they’ll get attention is to be charming. I hate buying into these kinds of generalities, but I must say, as a 20-something on the front lines of the dating war, there seems to be a certain truth in it.Only ugly girls are charmingSo, being female, I’m either ugly on the inside or ugly on the outside.

Same to you, cowboy.

Your theory, at least, is both untrue and ugly throughout – and your disclaimer doesn’t impress me. Does attention come more easily to people who are born beautiful, and does that stunt their character growth? You could argue that. But if there’s a generalization to be made (and then insincerely lamented), maybe it’s that pretty women develop defenses against relentless attention from guys who judge them solely on looks. Gets sloppy, that there battlefield, doesn’t it?

If you want genuine kindness, then show genuine kindness, in venues where that has some value. Otherwise, don’t complain when you go out and get what you get.

How do you know what to keep within a relationship and what to tell your friends? I have a habit of going to other people first and then going to my boyfriend when I am frustrated with him. I know this is not constructive, I know that I unjustly fear his rejecting me, but how do I overcome that nagging thought that he will? Therapy, been there, doing that.Rejection fearsGo to your boyfriend first.

That’ll be two dollars, please.

You’ve tried the warm-fuzzy solution (talking to friends) and the expensive solution (going to therapy) and the long-shot solution (writing to me), and unless you want to stop passersby on the street to complain about your boyfriend, you’re running out of ways to “solve” your problem without actually facing it.

When you are frustrated with your boyfriend, you talk to your boyfriend. When you are afraid he’s going to reject you, you talk to him anyway.

Doing this will: kick your blab habit; conquer your fear of rejection (worst case, you get rejected for being yourself, far better than being loved for faking it); and render your what-to-tell question moot. That’s because functioning relationships don’t leave you a whole lot to whine about with other people.

This isn’t to be mistaken for biting your tongue around the girls. It is understood between trusting, well-adjusted partners that you both have the right to speak freely, as long as truly private (read: potentially embarrassing) matters remain so.

I’m talking about a habit, verging on second nature, of opening yourselves to each other to the extent that unresolved stuff becomes scarce. Have problem; raise problem with partner; discuss problem; fix problem if fixable, or change expectations if not; or break up if you fail at the first two; drop issue.

Granted, not a whole lot of relationships – friendships included – actually function this cleanly. I suspect that isn’t because they can’t, but because we’re too afraid to do the one thing they require, which is to say what we really think.

Three weeks into dating a guy, how do you know if he is after a relationship or just some bedroom fun?Relationship rompOh, oh, I know this one! Decline to be a source of bedroom fun until you’re confident he wants a relationship. If that’s what you want from him.

Sound like your granny? Maybe. But only if your granny believed in making choices based on immutable human law instead of fungible social mores. If you want to be treated a certain way, which approach makes more sense: insisting on it and then backing that up with your actions, or putting it entirely in someone else’s hands and hoping fretfully for the best?

I have two friends who often share with me the concerns they have with their girlfriends. However, they do not let their girlfriends know there is even a problem until they have already decided to call it quits. I thought this pattern could have been the “men go into a cave to sort things out” thing, but then I realized they are sharing their concern – just with the wrong person. My question is, why are some people only comfortable communicating with friends about their partners?Need Help UnderstandingFear (see above), immaturity (see above), sloth (sorry, above), and, as I suspect in the case of your friends, a fundamentally weak investment in the relationship. If you’re already disinclined to take emotional risks, you’re hardly going to take them for someone you’re not that excited about. It becomes its own little cycle: Be vaguely afraid of real intimacy, choose disposable mates, dispose of mates when need for real intimacy arises with the excuse that the mate isn’t “the one,” repeat. Chances are, when they grow up, or get lonely, or a disposable person dumps them hard, the cycle will break itself.

Carolyn Hax is a syndicated advice columnist for The Washington Post. She started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. Email her at tellme@washpost.com.