Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Boyfriend Demands Girlfriend Stay in With Him

DEAR HARRIETTE: My boyfriend and I have been together for a little over a year, and things have been great. We don’t argue much, but when we do, it has to do with me wanting to go out with my girls. I’m a college student and want to have a good time, but he doesn’t trust me enough to go out. He agree that I have never done anything to cause him not to trust me, but his argument is that he doesn’t trust the other men in the environment. I’ve asked him to come out with me, but he would rather stay in the dorms. I end up giving in and staying in with him, but it’s unfair.

I’m not sure what to do because it seems like this will be an issue for the rest of our lives if we stay together. Should I break up with him, or should I accept that I’m not allowed to go out? -- Concerned Girlfriend, Philadelphia

DEAR CONCERNED GIRLFRIEND: Notice the language that you used. You speak of what your boyfriend "allows" you to do. That makes me concerned, because you should not be controlled by anyone, including your boyfriend. Of course, you want to please him -- as he should also want to please you. You also need to figure out how you are compatible and the ways in which you are not.

If you and your friends make safe choices when you go out, you will be as protected as anyone can be as you go about your life. Assure your boyfriend of the precautions that you will follow. That should include limited alcohol consumption, traveling in groups and not being the last to leave.

I do not recommend that you retreat from going out at all. You will end up resenting him for forcing you to make that choice. That is not the way to begin a life together.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m a 38-year-old mother who lives in Connecticut with my 14-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son. I’m divorced from a musician, and I work as a bartender. The neighborhood I am in is not the best, and my son has been getting into trouble at school. I have decided to move back to Ohio with my parents because all of my siblings still live there, and I think my kids will have better opportunities there and finally have some stability.

I’m taking my kids away from their home and friends, but we’re struggling out here. Do you think I’m making the right decision for my family? How can I help them with this transition? -- Single Mother, Stamford, Connecticut

DEAR SINGLE MOTHER: Moving your family to a location that you can afford and that has built-in family support is smart. Naturally, your children won’t love the idea -- not at first, anyway. They are teenagers, so friends are extremely important at their age. They also are pliable. Explain to them that you are moving in order to create a better quality of life for the family. Paint a picture of what they can expect in Ohio, what activities they can participate in and where they will live. Also, point out that they can stay in touch with their friends, just from a distance.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)