A bunch of friends just got engaged and now my boyfriend is thinking about marriage. I like being with him, but I’m nowhere near ready. He makes hints about weddings and I’m like “NOO!” Can I tell him to slow down without hurting our relationship? -Not Ready
It might hurt your relationship, but that doesn’t mean that the alternative — not speaking up at all — is any better. If there’s a fundamental mismatch in terms of timelines or commitment levels, he deserves to know (as begging back a DJ deposit on a canceled wedding reception is not fun).
Bring the issue up in a comfortable, contextual way as a first step. You might use humor (“I see you getting gaga over boutonnieres, but you know I’m not ready for wedding planning — how about I let you wear a tux to Noodles & Company instead?”) or a more serious sit-down (“I want to talk about us, because I feel sometimes you’re on a faster path than I am. What are your thoughts?”) He deserves honesty and a willingness for you to listen; you deserve the same from him.
When the ex is the roommate
I’ve been seeing a great man for three months. The problem is his live-in ex-girlfriend. She’s on disability and has no income to move (although she has a boyfriend who often stays there as well). He also says she has attempted suicide. I think she’s a master manipulator. She calls to ask for money or errands, and I’ve caught her going through my bag! My friends say get out, he won’t change. But we care for each other. -Torn and Confused
Your friends don’t think he wants to change — but do you? I get that there might be all kinds of headaches in kicking her out, especially given a possible psychiatric history, but that’s a moot point. We’re not debating his moral character here, or whether he’s doing this out of empathy, shadiness, laziness or being bamboozled.
What matters is where he prioritizes your relationship in this mess. How bothered is he by the fact that he’s running a free bed-and-breakfast for his ex and her new lover? If you really want to have hope for this relationship, you need to see energy, motivation and a specific game plan. In the absence of that, I’m with your friends.
Send your questions for Baggage Check to Dr. Andrea Bonior at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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