Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Woman is thrown for loop when boyfriend tells her he's never been in love

Her mission: Find out what boyfriend was trying to tell her

Q: I was thrown/hurt/confused recently when my boyfriend of two years told me he's never really been in love and isn't sure what it's supposed to feel like. He then tried to exempt me, but initially he said it as a blanket response to my asking why he never says, "I love you." He has said it, but always when I've said it first. We're 31 and 32.

I didn't know how to respond. I didn't want to make him feel bad since he was clearly emotional when he told me, so I just comforted him. I guess I'm the first girlfriend he's talked to about this.

We're actually pretty good otherwise and I'm not looking for a ring. But I'm also not very good at gauging when it's time to admit this isn't okay, and it hurts to think about breaking up since I do love him. Any advice?

Confused and Sad

A: Boom. No wonder you both ran for cover.

As a final response to his confession, though, I don't recommend the running or the cover.

That's because the only good outcome for both of you is to get on the right course, be it together tightly, together loosely or heading your separate ways. And the best way to find that right course is to dig out what your boyfriend was trying to say before he lost his nerve.

Even if he's not entirely sure, your willingness to raise this topic without flinching will remove for him the "I'm afraid to hurt her feelings" obstacle, the one that keeps so many couples from expressing their true feelings, the one that keeps relationships going well past their expiration dates.

You know you're stuck at "pretty good," or you wouldn't have pressed him on the "I love you" thing. So, walk toward what scares you and see whether your boyfriend needs a confidant or an out.

Two caveats: 1) His confession could be more manipulation than honesty. I don't think anyone has to strain to imagine a tortured-looking character saying in a soft voice, eyes on the horizon, "I don't think I've ever loved before. (Shifts gaze to the ground.) I'm not sure what it feels like."

2) Even if it's bona fide, it's not the most promising truth ever shared. The big unflinching discussion could turn out just to be a one-hour postponement of the inevitable breakup.

But it could also plant the seed for the intimacy you're lacking. And, for what it's worth, suspecting they left too soon tends to haunt people, where suspecting they stayed too long generally just annoys.

What to do when your friends put you in middle of dispute

Q: What do you do when two friends drag you into the middle of their argument ... and one is clearly wrong? For instance, Friend A badly wrongs Friend B, then seeks my validation as if to prove to B that her actions really weren't that bad, while Friend B wants validation for her hurt feelings. My instinct to defuse the situation always conflicts with my desire to side with the person who is objectively right. Which is the more appropriate approach?

In the Middle

A: You want to be unbiased, not morally blind. "Unless I've missed something, A, you do owe B an apology." Then cheerfully buy the next round.

Comments

Tell Me About It: Mom needs reassurance of their gratitude

Mom needs reassurance of their gratitudeQ: Whenever my mother gives me or my family member a gift, she ends up asking about it several times afterward. Does not matter if it was $5 or expensive.We always thank her for gifts, and these comments feel l...
Published: 01/16/18

Tell Me About It: Sister-in-law’s gall is of epic proportions

Sister-in-law’s gall is of epic proportionsQ: I’m a two-time, currently-Stage IV breast cancer survivor. When I was told I needed a double mastectomy, I did the research and decided to "go flat."For dressy occasions, I wear prostheses, but they’re no...
Published: 01/16/18

Tell Me About It: Pregnancy makes move harder to bear

Pregnancy makes move harder to bearI’m 27 weeks pregnant and just moved to a new city for a great job, but I think I made a big mistake. I loved my old life and feel so homesick for it. But my husband and I bought a house, so moving is not a feasible...
Published: 01/15/18

Tell Me About It: Mom is floored by daughter’s pregnancy

Mom is floored by daughter’s pregnancyQ: I’m literally shaking as I type this. My 15-year-old daughter is pregnant. I can’t believe it. We had many good discussions about waiting until she was ready, using birth control when she was, but it all did n...
Published: 01/14/18

Tell Me About It: Social daughter pushes mom’s boundaries

Social daughter pushes mom’s boundariesQ: So I am an introvert, and it has taken me years to finally accept this and allow myself to be happy alone, rather than constantly trying to appease my extroverted family with attempts to socialize that ultima...
Published: 01/12/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Jan. 15-21

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Jan. 15-21

Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Celebrations happen all around Tampa Bay today, including the MLK Dream Big Parade in downtown St. Petersburg. It includes 110 units and bands, including Florida A&M and Tuskegee universities, and ends with a Family Fun Da...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/14/18
Here’s how to sing along to the entire Hamilton soundtrack at a Tampa library

Here’s how to sing along to the entire Hamilton soundtrack at a Tampa library

If you’re already singing along to the entire Hamilton soundtrack alone, why not meet like-minded folks and do it together?A Hamilton singalong goes down tonight at the Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library in Tampa. Fans will gather to sing the entire — y...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18

Tell Me About It: Retiree searches for purpose and answers

Retiree searches for purpose and answersQ: I retired over a year ago from a fairly high-powered job that gave me worldwide recognition in my field. The decision to retire (in my mid-70s) was a very difficult one because I was not sure I could fill my...
Published: 01/11/18
Plan your weekend: MLK Day, Monster Jam, Sunshine Music Festival, comic Nikki Glaser, Christian artists at Winter Jam

Plan your weekend: MLK Day, Monster Jam, Sunshine Music Festival, comic Nikki Glaser, Christian artists at Winter Jam

  Holiday MLK Day: Before the parades on Monday in downtown St. Petersburg and Tampa’s Cuscaden Park, there will be a block party and battle of the bands on Sunday with the Florida A&M Rattlers, Tuskegee University’s Marching Crimso...
Published: 01/10/18
Updated: 01/12/18
Meet the monster trucks: Free truck displays around Tampa Bay

Meet the monster trucks: Free truck displays around Tampa Bay

Before Monster Jam invades Raymond James Stadium on Saturday, some of the show’s biggest stars will be on display across the Tampa Bay area. You can and take pictures with the 12-foot-tall, 10,000-pound monster trucks at the following free appearance...
Published: 01/10/18