DEAR HARRIETTE: None of my friends likes my boyfriend, but I am head over heels for him. They just don't understand that he's different when we're alone as opposed to when people are observing our relationship. In public, he hates public displays of affection and tells me he doesn't need everyone to know that we're together because of how touchy we are. I understand his point of view, but my friends call him expletives and say he's not trustworthy. They think his refusal to publicly acknowledge that we're together has to mean he's cheating on me. He's also said some mean things about me in public, but he always apologizes for them.
My boyfriend is just so sweet when we're alone, but my friends never see that part of him. They constantly make a point to tell me negative things he says, and they don't understand how there could be a secretly loving side to him. They tell me he's trouble, and I'm torn.
How much influence should my girlfriends have on my relationship? They seem to try to be talking sense into me, but I don't think I need it. -- Secret Romeo, Dallas
DEAR SECRET ROMEO: There's a difference between not wanting to be touchy-feely in public and being rude in public. It is inappropriate for your boyfriend to talk badly about you in public or private. That needs to stop immediately. Replay for him the things you have heard him say and have been shared with you. Tell him how hurtful they are, and ask why he does that. Acknowledge that you are OK with being discreet in public, but you are not OK with being disrespected. Talk it out to see where he stands. What you want to watch out for is if he is too controlling. That's a sign to walk away.