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Icky protectiveness sets off warning bells

Question: My otherwise sweet and protective boyfriend has told me several times over our two years together that if I am ever raped, he will not be able to handle it and will leave me. It's not like my behavior provokes him to think I might put myself in a risky position; he just thinks it would be so terrible he couldn't deal. This bugs me more and more the more I think about it, and I need an objective opinion. Even if he is a little immature and insensitive sometimes, I'm not sure what you will say without knowing how wonderful he can be.

Answer: Please don't tell me you need me to tell you how freaky this is.

Granted, some people would call it a molehill, and they might be right. But it's a molehill with mountainous ambitions.

So allow me. You say he's protective. There's normal protective _ feeling responsible for your safety, like a parent; there's damaged protective _ having suffered a past loss and going overboard to prevent future ones; and there's icky protective _ he's wonderful to you only when you're innocent and pristine, and so insists on keeping you that way.

Unless you're a passenger in his car or he's teaching you how to sky-dive, the first kind of protective is a little weird in a mate. Aren't you equals?

The second is unhealthy but treatable stuff; you assert your autonomy and urge the guy to get help.

The third? Flee this. Always.

If you're not as concerned as I am that you're dating Guy No. 3, consider: He not only needs you to be unviolated to remain lovable to him, he thinks about that. A lot.

Which makes him the perfect boyfriend for a perfect world in which nothing bad ever happens to anyone. A perfect world that he apparently feels a pervasive need to control.

And so, to convince him (and yourself) that you're somehow above imperfection, you find yourself insinuating that rape victims get that way only because they put themselves in risky positions. Wow. Wow. Wow.


Unless you're certain you'll never get hurt, need help or, egad, make a substantial mistake, you're kissing the perfect frog. Otherwise, I strongly suggest you let this one "mature" on his own time, not yours.

Be forthright with friend

Question: I have a group of four friends I've been with since I was 18 (I'm now 24), and one friend has stopped maturing somewhere along the way. Her constant high school behavior usually leaves the other three of us constantly complaining about her to one another. Is there any way to approach this situation without its seeming like we are attacking her three-on-one?

Answer: You can't stand that high school behavior?

You're already attacking her three-on-one, just behind her back. The fair, and decent, and adult way to treat her is to attack her one-on-one, to her face. With "attack" being shorthand for raising calm, specific, well-thought-out objections to her behavior, with explicit examples, and then hearing her side of the story. And then steering the friendship accordingly.

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