Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Ask Natalie: Are you like the Grinch and not in the mood for holiday fun? Best friend in a bad relationship and her boyfriend won’t move out?

DEAR NATALIE: Let me be perfectly honest. I hate Christmas. It’s such an awful holiday with way too much expectation. This year, I was so happy because everything was canceled due to Covid. But my girlfriend has been really getting on me for not wanting to do anything with her. I didn’t help decorate, I didn’t bake any cookies, I didn’t buy any presents. Now she wants to take her niece and nephew to this drive-thru lights show the day after the holiday. Why would I want to do that? We got into a big fight over this. She said she wants our future kids to experience the holidays, and that I am ruining it. Is it that big of a deal? I feel like she is on the verge of dumping me and I need some advice. I do love her and want to have a family with her someday. —GRINCH

DEAR GRINCH: Life is about compromise. For the sake of our relationships, sometimes we do things that don’t sound fun or meaningful to us, but hold value to our partner. Holidays can be like that for a lot of people. The holidays can be stressful, depressing and exhausting. But they can also be a joyful time, a time for reflection, a time for celebration. This year has been challenging on so many levels. So many families will not be spending the holidays together because of Covid-19. The economic hardships that millions and millions of Americans are facing have also dampened spirits. It sounds to me that your girlfriend is just trying to make the best of a difficult time. When you don’t want to decorate with her or bake cookies, you are missing out on interactions that could strengthen and deepen your love for each other. Why ruin this one time of year where she is feeling both joy and optimism? Love is an action word, after all. You say that you love her. You are clearly worried about your relationship with her because of your dislike of the holidays. If this is something she enjoys and you can stand to do one or two small activities with her, like taking her niece and nephew to see holiday lights, why don’t you? We all make sacrifices from time to time in our relationships. Show her that you can put your feelings aside and give her this moment. It may just grow your heart three sizes.

DEAR NATALIE: My best friend is always complaining to me about her relationship. She let her boyfriend move in with her during the pandemic when he lost his job. But now, he’s working full time again and has enough money to find his own place. But every time she brings it up, he just laughs and says, “Why would I leave?” I don’t blame him. She does everything for him, treats him like a prince and he really doesn’t do much for her in return. I asked her why she stays with him and she always says that old tired line: “Because I love him.” But every day she texts me something that he did or said that upsets her. What’s stopping her from leaving him? —JUST SAY GOODBYE

DEAR JUST SAY GOODBYE: Tale as old as time. In relationships, you have the givers and the takers. When a taker finds a giver, why would they leave? Theoretically, she really needs to date another giver so they can both reciprocate back and forth their admiration and appreciation for one another, but we know that’s just not how it always works. In this situation, all you can do is to continue to be a good friend to her. Listen to her, but try not to fix it. She clearly is conflicted and most likely doesn’t need anyone else telling her what she already knows in her heart. In actuality, it won’t likely change her mind and will only put a wedge between you. Instead, just be there for her, and the next time she brings him up, remind her that she is worthy of all the good things she bestows upon him. Maybe that will sink in over time. 

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