The Washington Post

Carolyn Hax: How much to expect from a significant other


Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

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

It probably is unreasonable for me to expect my boyfriend to miss me as much as I miss him, right? I’m constantly thinking of the next time I get to hear his voice or see him (we live an hour and a half apart), and I’ll usually text and/or e-mail once or twice a day to check in and share something that reminded me of him.

Too much? Do I need to back off? He likes hearing from me when I contact him, but some days, like today, if I don’t check in with him, he doesn’t contact me at all. Does he not miss me and is that a sign to worry?

I’ve noticed that he usually manages to call every two weeks to talk for an hour or so . . . and then ask me if he can come spend the night with me. We’ve been together for nine months.

(Nick Galifianakis/For The Washington Post)

Men Missing Women

No, no no, please don’t make this about “men” and “women.” Don’t use that as a convenient little broom to sweep away your valid questions about whether this guy cares about you the person or you the convenient twice-a-month sleepover.

You do see it, right? That if you buy the rationalization that all men get less attached than all women, then you can pretend this is a typical relationship instead of a badly lopsided one? Then you can pretend this man loves you as much as any man loves any woman, and shows it the way his chromosomes tell him to?


Any time you’re trying to explain something based on what broad categories of people do, it’s time to stop, back up, stick to the facts at hand, and ask yourself why you’re reaching so far to get a more appealing answer.

People do show their appreciation in different ways, so it’s also possible someone can be bonkers for you and still go days without texting you.

But someone in a real, healthy relationship will get in touch with you — about half the time — as an act of giving, instead of just to get something from you.

Dear Carolyn:

My friends are bad drivers. I have repeatedly felt unsafe while in the passenger seat. During one trip — only from one part of the city to another — I truly believe that it was only my shouting “Stop!” that kept us from being in two messy wrecks. So I generally volunteer to drive.

However, we’re about to go on a long trip, and I’m four months pregnant, and I don’t know whether they’ll let me drive six hours each way, even though I’m fine with it.

Is there a nice way to let them know that I’m not endangering my life, and the one in my uterus, with them at the wheel?

The Only Good Driver for Miles

No, but, as your uterus has probably already told you, “nice” isn’t always the No. 1 priority. I also don’t see why four months of pregnancy has anything to do with how much driving your friends “let” you do. Congrats and good luck.

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or Sign up for Carolyn Hax’s column, delivered to your inbox early each morning, at



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