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Tell Me About It | by Carolyn Hax

Boyfriend will adjust to and learn from his parents' breakup

Support him as he copes
with parents' breakup

Q: My boyfriend's parents are divorcing after 30 years of marriage. While there wasn't any cheating, and things are not as bad as they could be, his parents are both relying on him as their support through the process.

He won't tell them to back off, and I know he's hurting from the amount of negative information about their marriage and his childhood.

His concept of marriage is rapidly deteriorating, and I don't know how to help him see that strong relationships do exist. We're at a point of our relationship where it's hard NOT to think about eventual marriage. I'm having a hard time dealing with his new nonbelief in lasting relationships. Is it a reflection on me?

D.C.

A: It's not about you. Well, most of it probably isn't.

What he's going through is huge. He's holding up his childhood bedrock and inspecting it for cracks he never knew were there — that he never knew to look for before.

This would be true even if his parents weren't leaning on him so unfairly. I hope he does come around to the idea of taking better care of himself and setting limits on what they disclose.

Either way, I would argue that someone who goes through this wrenching process is actually a better candidate for a lasting, long-term relationship. Far better to entrust your happy ending to an informed skeptic than to someone whose idea of happiness was created by two people who spent years propping up a lie.

He may take a while to settle into a peaceful state of mind about this, since it's all pretty new — and you may be long broken up by then, who knows. He may not have it in him to find peace. But better that he's getting the truth now, before he's heavily invested in his pre-truth view of the world.

For your part, you can help him see that strong relationships exist by being the kind of partner who creates them — open, honest, flexible. He may not be able, ready or even interested in being the other half of that partnership. But it's not your job to be an unpaid lobbyist for marriage, especially not if you just want to be married. Your job is to be yourself, to be his friend, to be someone he can trust, and to let this be what you both urgently need it to be: unforced.

He's got game — but can't
remember her name

Q: So I like this guy in my pickup soccer league and would like to ask him out. I'm not always good at reading signs but thought he might be interested, until he suddenly started calling me the wrong name (after calling me the correct one until then). Doh! If you're into someone, that's something you usually remember, no? What's a good way to approach this: "Actually, I'm (blank). By the way, do you want to go out for coffee sometime?" Or is this a sign that I should just save my dignity and not pursue it?

Say My Name!

A: Correct the name, but otherwise, if you don't trust yourself, wait. This is between you two, so you can't borrow anyone else's judgment, line or timing. If you do ask him out, though, feel free to screw up his name.

Advice

Boyfriend will adjust to and learn from his parents' breakup

05/26/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 2:57pm]

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