Q: My boyfriend of three years just got a job as a defense contractor. He will be training for the next four months and deployed for the next year. It is a decision we made together.
Before he left, I met someone at work from another department. I have been to lunch with him a couple of times with his co-workers and enjoy his (and his co-workers') company. My new friend "Tim" invited me to a pool party at his new place.
I told my boyfriend this, and he got upset and told me he wasn't comfortable with my going to a party with someone he hasn't met. I got upset because I felt like he doesn't trust my judgment. I recognize that it boils down to his being upset that he doesn't get to enjoy my company anymore, and some other guy does.
How do we navigate this new stage of our relationship? I am faithful, and my boyfriend knows this, but he is uncomfortable that he isn't here to "protect" me anymore, and I want the freedom to make new friends (even male ones).
A: Navigating this new stage will involve, for starters, your ability to communicate with each other and your willingness to surrender to fate. Unfortunately, both are extremely difficult to pull off without bruising feelings and fueling paranoia.
What your boyfriend wants right now is a girlfriend who isn't interested in going to a male co-worker's pool party. He doesn't have that girlfriend. He's going to have to get his mind around this — and learn to live with your freedom, including your freedom to lose interest in him.
You, meanwhile, want a boyfriend who understands that controlling where you go in his absence has nothing to do with your choice to remain faithful. You don't have that boyfriend. You're going to have to resist the impulse to whitewash "control" into the more romantic-sounding "protection."
Where this leaves you is with the following awkward conversation: If you can don Lycra, frolic with likable men and remain ungrudgingly faithful to him, then your relationship is a good risk to survive challenges. If, on the other hand, you have to stay home to stay faithful, then this relationship won't survive, no matter what you wear, where, or with whom. Discuss.
Separations aren't difficult just because couples miss each other. They, like any other dramatic change in circumstances, expose sides of both parties that past circumstances never allowed the other to see.
So you navigate this new stage the way you would these other changes: Confront problems honestly, stay true to yourselves, and resist the impulse to hold rigid views of each other or of your relationship. You don't answer to anyone or anything except your own integrity. Therein lies your happy ending, whatever that ending may be.
Baby's arrival will change things
Q: My brother and his wife are pregnant with their first child, and I get the impression they are disappointed it's not a boy. Any way I should handle my reactions to those little things?
A: Ignore them. Such disappointment is common, and typically lifts once the child arrives to displace the imagined one.