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Carolyn Hax: Fiance’s jealousy is a bad omen; friend seeks love-life advice


Dear Carolyn:

My fiance and I have had a rough year living apart (jobs in two different foreign countries). Jealousy and trust have been constant issues, but I really thought things were getting better, and we’re both very excited for our next transfer, when we can finally live together and plan our wedding!

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. The column includes cartoons by "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis -- Carolyn's ex-husband -- and appears in over 200 newspapers. View Archive

I just found out an ex of mine will be working in my new office; this ex and I are cordial but not in touch. I immediately told my fiance, because there was no reason to hide this from him, and hiding it would aggravate his trust issues.

Now he’s furious, says he feels betrayed and thinks I orchestrated this whole transfer to be in the same office as my ex!

I love my fiance, am fiercely loyal to him and completely honest with him always, but I’m at my wits’ end on this hamster wheel of jealousy and distrust. How can I show him that I am his alone, and that, while the new work environment may not be ideal, it’s not a reason to accuse me of wrongdoing?


I can answer that, but I won’t, because the objective — preserving your relationship with your accuser — is one I refuse to encourage.

Such jealousy is a major predictor of abuse.

My advice is this: Tell him, “I won’t stay with someone who believes me capable of what you’re saying.” Then don’t cave when he sweetens up. Face the ugliness he spewed, learn from it, leave.

Read “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker if you think I’m overreacting.

Or think how scared you are now, imagining how he’ll take the news.

Hi, Carolyn:

I read with interest your April 22, 2012, response to “Tough Love,” whose friends’ candor about her sexual habits hurt her feelings. I’m on the other side of a very similar situation.

My friend (mid-20s, college-educated) asks me for dating and sex advice on a near-daily basis; never takes it, though. The answer to almost all her problems is the same: Stop offering up easy sex when what you want is a relationship. However, she dismisses that advice categorically because the double-standard is unfair.

So what’s left? How can I help her with gentleness and tact, if I even can?

Helping a Friend

That’s the nut, isn’t it? That you can’t help someone who asks for advice on a near-daily basis? She’s shopping for what she wants to hear, when a willingness to hear unwelcome truths is the unhappy person’s best friend.

But, you can try. Next time she seeks advice, ask her what she’s hoping to hear — because you’ve advised and advised to no avail.

Assuming she insists she reallynoreally wants your help: Remind her it’s not solely about the unjust double-standard. Men who offer up easy sex may not get shamed, but they also tend not to wind up in stable, trusting relationships, either.

So, if she wants sex, then she should have it — on blinkered principle, even. But if she wants a relationship, then she’ll need to invest patience in getting to know people before she entangles herself — just as men have to.

She’ll ignore you, sure, but at least her bizarro line-drawing won’t have sucked you into the indefensibly sexist why-buy-the-cow club. Moo.

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or Subscribe at carolynhax.



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