DEAR NATALIE: My boyfriend and I have been having some trouble lately in our relationship. We’ve been together for three years and started dating our senior year of college. Things were great in the beginning but now it always seems like he can’t support my decisions. I just received a promotion at work that I had been working towards. I was so excited to tell him the good news but all he did was complain that I’ll be working more. It really hurt me. He didn’t even congratulate me. He just criticized me. He even balked at the fact that I’ll have “just” a slight pay raise. Honestly, I’ve been working more because he is increasingly miserable to be around, especially because we’ve both been trapped at home due to the pandemic. He has a good job that he does remotely, so I don’t understand what this is even about. What should I do? —UNHAPPY AT HOME
DEAR UNHAPPY AT HOME: I think sometimes when people send me letters they already know the answer. It’s more that they need someone to validate their feelings or they need someone to give them “permission” to do what they already want to do. In this case, as I read between the lines, I sense that you already feel disconnected from your boyfriend. He isn’t supportive, you haven’t grown closer during this pandemic, and he is critical of you. What are you holding onto in your relationship? This pandemic has been able to expedite a lot of change for people, both good and bad. Take this as a blessing. You are now seeing that in the long term, you may not be compatible. That’s OK. You are allowed to walk away from a relationship that isn’t healthy. Of course not every day is sunshine and roses, but feeling depressed, demoralized and demeaned by your partner is no way to live. If you can afford to leave and have somewhere to go, just do it. Life is too short to be with someone who isn’t bringing out the best in you.
DEAR NATALIE: My best friend and her boyfriend just recently broke up. They had been dating for about a year and had been having problems. Well, I have always had a crush on her boyfriend and yesterday he asked me out for “socially distant” coffee. Is this a date? Should I go? I want to be there for my friend, but I really like him.
—THINKING THIS THROUGH
DEAR THINKING THIS THROUGH: Isn’t this a clear violation of some girl code written somewhere? Let me sum it up for you. If my ex-boyfriend and my best friend started dating days or weeks after we broke up, I would end my relationship with her, too. There are plenty of fish in the sea. It may not seem like it because our worlds have shrunk due to COVID-19, but someday the world will open up again, and you will have opportunities to meet new people that your best friend hasn’t slept with first. Asking you out was callous and selfish on his part as well as showing a lack of good judgment. How do you know he isn’t doing this just to make your friend jealous? Imagine if you were in her shoes, how would you feel? She’s going through a hard time right now and needs your support. What she doesn’t need is you undermining your friendship by going out with her ex-boyfriend. Take a minute and really think this through before you make any choices that you can’t undo.
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