I am confused as to where the line is drawn between trying to please your partner and being rudely manipulated into giving in.

For example, recently my boyfriend and I were getting intimate. I wasn’t really into it and I told him I wasn’t in the mood. He said, “It’s okay -- you don’t have to enjoy it.”

Am I right in believing that this is not an okay thing to say? I told him that saying that to me is unacceptable, but I gave in and did what he wanted.

I feel as if we mostly do things for him, but when I get the attention I had previously wanted I just feel uncomfortable. I’ve been manipulated sexually before, with other guys, and he knows that -- which is why it is a particularly sensitive and emotional topic.

I would love to hear your thoughts -- I’m a big fan. -- Worried

DEAR WORRIED: My thoughts are that your so-called boyfriend has sexually manipulated and coerced you into having sex after you said you didn’t want to. Evidently, he missed the “no means no” memo.

You should break off your relationship with this bully.

You should also consider calling the police. “I gave in and did what he wanted” doesn’t sound like consent to me. You can learn more by checking the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network’s Web site at or by speaking to a counselor at the organization’s hotline: 800-656-HOPE (4673).

Ponder the definition of “friendship.” True friends don’t coerce, manipulate or force their friends to act against their will.

You should hold the men in your life to the same standard you would expect from your closest friends and family members. In a healthy relationship, partners honor and elevate one another.

Because this seems to be a pattern for you, after you break off your relationship you should seek professional help to better understand your own impulses and behavior.

You need time alone to figure this out. Don’t engage in another sexual relationship until you understand what happened here and get some clarity on your reaction.


My friend’s son is getting married soon. Her husband wants to give his future daughter-in-law a summer dress and a coral necklace as an engagement gift.

My friend thinks this is not appropriate -- such personal gifts should come from her and not from her husband. She has a strong feeling about gifts that a woman may give another woman. She thinks these are inappropriate when given by a man to any woman other than his wife.

Her husband insists that this dress and necklace should come from him because he picked them out for her.

We are both wondering what you think of this. -- Wondering

DEAR WONDERING: This strikes me as strange, unless the dress and necklace are heirlooms that this man wishes to pass along to his future family member.

Many women would feel uncomfortable receiving any clothing more intimate than a scarf or sweater from a man other than her partner.

Gifts are laden with meaning, and dresses and jewelry are particularly intimate; receiving these things from her future father-in-law would leave the younger woman wondering what message he was trying to send.

At the very least, this gentleman should consider having the gift come from both him and his wife.


I’m writing after reading your letter from “Grieving Daughter,” about the insensitive things people said after her parents died.

My healthy, 51-year-old husband died totally unexpectedly seven months ago.

So many people have been extraordinarily kind. As time has passed and I’ve resumed some of my “normal life,” I often see people for the first time since my husband died.

I totally understand that they are unprepared and panicked at what to say, not knowing what to say or not wanting to upset me.

Here’s the magic, simple thing to say: “I’m so sorry.” That’s it. Ice broken. Condolences expressed. Tension eased. Concern thankfully received.

On behalf of all the grieving family members and worried friends, thank you in advance, Amy. -- Also Grieving

DEAR ALSO: Thank you for providing this very simple script.

Write to Amy Dickinson at or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2011 by the Chicago Tribune

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