DEAR AMY: I have been dating my boyfriend for almost a year. I have been in close contact with my best (male) friend for seven years, and my boyfriend has gotten jealous. Our relationship has been very bumpy. When we have time together he insists on playing video games or watching a movie (which I don’t mind), but we never talk. The only time we ever do anything outside the house is at his convenience.
I have been spending more time with my best friend. He and others who care about me are saying my boyfriend is not treating me right.
I agree with this, but any time I try to talk to him or try to work it out, he changes the subject or says, “Not now.” I am starting to give up. Is that a good thing?
I have also been having feelings for my best friend. I’ve never felt this way about him before and I don’t know what to do. I care for my boyfriend and want him to be happy, but I would like to feel happy too.
Any advice on what I should do? Is breaking up with him the right thing, or is there any other way to show him my cry for help? -- On the Fence
DEAR FENCE: Your account of your own relationship makes it sound so unsatisfying that I want to break up with both of you.
You say you’ve already cried for help. You were told to shed your tears elsewhere. Now it’s time to act.
The thing you should not do is to develop a romantic attachment to your best friend, and then use this crush as a crutch to hobble straight out of one relationship and into another.
Make a clean break. Spend some time on your own. And determine to choose better the next time around.
DEAR AMY: Regarding the letter from “A Real Daughter,” who felt that it was disrespectful to introduce one child as a daughter and another as a stepdaughter, here is my perspective.
I cringe when I am out with my father and stepmother, and she introduces me as “our daughter.” Bluntly put, I have a mother already, and it’s not her.
My stepmother and I have a cordial and friendly (but not close) relationship. The fact that my father divorced my mother to marry her certainly does not make it any easier for me to swallow her claiming me as a “daughter.” I believe her intentions are good, and because they live far away and this is an infrequent occurrence, I have avoided asking her to change her terminology.
I know of many warm and loving relationships between children and stepparents who are thrilled to define their relationship based on the love they share. But the letter writer should not assume that all children want to be embraced so closely by their parent’s next spouse. -- Happy to be a Step
DEAR HAPPY: One issue this brings up is the universal conception that the word “step” connotes a negative or a bad thing. I blame Shakespeare, Cinderella and Walt Disney.
Other readers have helpfully suggested that they substitute the word “bonus” for “step.”
“This is my ‘bonus daughter’ ” has a more positive spin to it, but it still differentiates between “bio” and “other.” Some people welcome this differentiation, as you point out.
DEAR AMY: I just wanted to tell you that I appreciate your position on spousal agreement to allow one partner in a celibate marriage to seek sexual intimacy elsewhere.
It’s honest and kind. I’m the widow of someone whose early-onset Alzheimer’s put a premature end to our sexual relationship, and while I remained faithful, it was another terrifically sad loss to accept.
There are many scenarios in good marriages in which you have to ask yourself what is fair to all parties. Brava for speaking out. -- Widow
DEAR WIDOW: Some readers took my answer as an endorsement for “open marriage” (it’s not). But in the case of a celibate marriage in which there are no children involved and all parties consent, I don’t see how this could be considered “cheating.”