Boyfriend Keeps Me at Arm's Length From His Family
Dear Annie: I am a recovering alcoholic with almost three years of sobriety.
I have a wonderful boyfriend with whom I spend many enjoyable hours. Occasionally, he is asked to join his friends for a drink. On several occasions, he has told them that he doesn't drink out of respect for me, adding, "You know ..." and looking directly at me. His friends all respond with a conspiratorial nod.
I've told him quite often that this embarrasses me, both for mentioning it and for having told his friends! What is the proper response in this situation, aside from bursting into tears from shame (which I actually did once)?! -- Sober and Embarrassed
Dear Sober and Embarrassed: Congratulations! Three years of sobriety is a huge accomplishment, and you should be proud.
Give your boyfriend some alternatives to use when asked for a drink: "Thanks, but I'm not drinking at the moment," or, "How about we grab lunch instead?" He probably feels awkward declining and doesn't want to come across as rude.
Dear Annie: I wanted to ask this question to see what others think.
My boyfriend hasn't involved me in his family and we have been together for seven years. He has met my family and my kids but is very private about his own family. I know his friends, but I have never been introduced to his dad, and I'm not allowed to come around his house when his dad is there.
It's really taking a toll on me, and I feel I am not good enough. Any advice? -- Feeling Shut-In
Dear Feeling Shut-In: Perhaps the issue here lies not with you but with your boyfriend and his father. Is their relationship healthy and close, or strained and complicated? Seeing he has introduced you to his friends, I'd venture to say he wants you involved in his life. When it comes to his family, he might not know how to.
Talk with your boyfriend about how you're feeling. After seven years together, it's time to break the ice on the family front.
Dear Annie: Your readers seem to have a variety of problems. Because of my career path, I've read a lot of problem-solving and self-help books over the years. They all have good ideas.
However, there are two that sit high above the heap. Both are written by the same person, Dale Carnegie. The books are "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living" and "How to Win Friends and Influence People." I know they would help a lot of your readers because they solve actual problems. They were written years ago, but I'm sure they can still be found in libraries and bookstores. I highly recommend them. -- Bookworm
Dear Bookworm: Thank you for these recommendations. They're two very popular titles, indeed, and just in time for summer reading lists.
"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.