NOTE: This archive only contains Carolyn Hax columns through March 2011. Her more recent columns are located here.

TELL ME ABOUT IT ®

Tell Me About It
(Nick Galifianakis for The Washington Post)

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By Carolyn Hax
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 17, 2007

Carolyn:

My boyfriend has been under a huge amount of stress lately, mostly due to financial issues. We live together and I try to support him in any way I can (working overtime, helping with yardwork, waiting on him when he's not working). With the stress and busy pace of our lives, I've been feeling as though my emotional needs aren't being met.

I'm not expecting candlelight and roses, but there's very minimal physical affection and I can't remember the last time he said, "I love you." Sometimes I'll get a "You look good today," but he's easily annoyed and snaps at me often. With all the other stress, I don't want to burden him with relationship issues unnecessarily. Would you say I'm being too needy?

M.

I'm not there, so I can't say. Neediness that doesn't show up on paper can seep into gestures, tone, timing, or all three in the form of gratuitous sighing.

But since "I'm not touching that one!" doesn't fill a column, here's a handy or at least minimally obnoxious Bill of Rights for stressed-out people (SOP) and the people whom stressed-out people stress out (TPWSOPSO):

1. SOP are entitled to extra care.

2. This is not carte blanche for SOP to snap at, shut out or otherwise mistreat TPWSOPSO. Communication becomes more important, not less, and rules for mutual consideration of feelings are never suspended.

3. SOP have a few get-out-of-jail-free cards for trampling said feelings, as long as they ungrudgingly admit and regret the slip. (Bonus points if it's unprompted.)

4. TPWSOPSO have a right to call attention to these slips, after careful consideration of their significance.


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© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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