Family Trip Turned Free-for-All?
Dear Annie: I've been dating my boyfriend for a little over 14 months. We knew each other 30 years ago, as we attended the same church. We never said anything but hello to each other. Fourteen months ago, we connected on Facebook, and a fairytale romance began. We were so in love and enjoyed spending time with each other.
For the past few months, he's become distant, sometimes irritable and seems emotionally dead. He was never that great as far as expressing emotions. He's a workaholic and doesn't make an effort to come see me like he used to. He's a truck driver and has a landscaping business.
I don't know if he's cheating or it's just plain over. I've tried to break up with him about three times, but he won't go away. It confuses me. I don't know what to do but am feeling foolish. I feel like I'm more into him than he is into me.
I don't know if I should be firm and walk away or what I should do. Please help. -- Am I Being Stupid or Naive?
Dear Stupid or Naive: First things first, I would decide what you want from him. If it's to break up, then you need to tell him that clearly and directly. If he still won't leave, it may be time to look into legal options such as a restraining order.
But don't write him off because you're insecure about his feelings for you. Sudden attitude changes are often a symptom of a larger problem. Tell him that you've noticed a difference in his behavior and ask if there's something you can do to help. If you still feel a disconnect, ask him to attend couples therapy to get to the root of the problem.
Dear Annie: I am about to turn 40 and want to take my family to London to celebrate. It's a good time to go now that COVID is receding and my kids are teenagers. The whole family is excited about the trip.
However, my best friend told me that she wants to go on the trip with us. My original plan was just to have it be our family. But she is adamant about going and celebrating our forthcoming "big 4-0" birthdays together -- mine this summer and hers in the fall.
It could be nice to have her there, but now she's talking about bringing her whole family. Our kids are very different and aren't friends. Worse, her husband is extremely annoying. He's uncouth and a know-it-all, and my husband can't stand him. I don't want to go on vacation with him, let alone celebrate my special birthday with him.
I don't know how to tell her that, at most, I would want only her to join us on what is supposed to be a family vacation. -- The Concerned Traveler
Dear Concerned Traveler: It's sweet of your friend to want to celebrate you and this milestone birthday, but she's now put you in an awkward position by inviting herself, along with her whole family.
Your family's trip to London was planned with purpose; it's not a free-for-all. Make a boundary with your friend and offer an alternative. Suggest that the two of you take a trip sometime in between your birthdays to celebrate your 40ths together -- no husbands, no kids -- and keep your London trip on the books as planned. These conversations can feel uncomfortable in the moment, but in hindsight, you might consider it the best birthday gift to yourself.
"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.