Dear Wendy: “Should I Stay With My Sick Boyfriend?”

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for about four months. The past couple weeks, he’s been getting sick pretty often and his doctor hasn’t figured out what’s wrong with him. At first, we thought it might be the flu, but it seems like it could be something worse. I’ve noticed that since he started feeling ill, he’s been more reserved and even more distant. His libido dropped and he’s tired often. I remember before all this, we used to go out and have a lot fun together. I don’t even mind particularly if I come over and help him out while he’s feeling down and maybe just cuddle and watch a movie, but it’s definitely not the same. I used to be happier. What’s really killing me is the emotional distance. He used to call me almost everyday but now it’s much less often. In any other situation, I would say we’ve grown apart and should end things, but I’m wondering if (and perhaps hoping that) this is due to the sickness. My question is: should I stick with him and try extra hard to reach out and support him? I can compromise on going out, having sex and dealing with his energy level, but I still need some attention. How often should I call and offer to spend time with him before just giving up? Call me old fashioned, but I usually take it as bad sign if I’m the one initiating the majority of plans, but [this] situation has me thrown for a loop. — Florence Nightingale

Huh, your boyfriend’s been more reserved than usual, is tired, prefers staying in, isn’t calling you every second, and doesn’t want to have sex all day long? Gee, Florence, could it be because he’s sick? You honestly feel neglected because your boyfriend’s been feeling ill for two weeks? You used to be happier? Well, guess what, FN, so did your boyfriend! Are you really so selfish and self-absorbed that after two measly weeks of sacrificing your wants to, gasp, “help him out” and “maybe just cuddle and watch a movie” instead of going out, you’re considering dumping him?

Here’s an interesting thought: Maybe your boyfriend is sick of YOU. You shouldn’t be calling and “offering” to spend time with your boyfriend, anyway. You should be spending time with him because you enjoy his company and it makes you feel good to be there for someone you care about who isn’t feeling his best. You know what? Please do break up with him, save him from investing any more time and energy into such a one-sided relationship. My bet is he starts feeling better as soon as he’s free of you.

I recently asked my boyfriend how he feels about me because we’ve been dating for six months and I guess I wanted to know where we stand. I don’t think I’m in love with him (he makes it hard sometimes) but his answer was: “I like you, I wouldn’t stay with you if I didn’t like you. But I’m getting the feeling you are falling in love with me and I just don’t feel that way. Let me know if I’m assuming too much about your feelings.” It was an honest answer and that’s fine but now I’m wondering if this means he never will fall in love with me or it just hasn’t happened yet. I even told him that I’m not in love yet, but if he can see how beautiful we can be I need him to stop holding back. If he doesn’t think we have potential, I’d appreciate if he told me that before I get too deep into him. So far he’s stayed with me, but I am very confused and I need to know what I’m going to do. I don’t want to keep on with this if it’s not worth it. — Not In Love Yet

Boy, if you’re confused, imagine how confused your boyfriend must be. You ask how he feels about you and he says he likes you but isn’t in love. You tell him you aren’t in love with him either and then demand to know whether he thinks he’s going to fall in love with you eventually. Never mind that it’s impossible to tell someone how your feelings are going to develop over time, but how can you feel confused that someone isn’t in love with you when you’re saying you aren’t in love with him? I call foul here. You either already love him but aren’t being honest about your feelings, or you’re being totally unfair about your expectations.

Look, you wanted to have a six-month check-in and see where you stand with this guy and you did. You know he likes you and wants to continue dating you. Quit worrying about how things are going to develop or whether you’re going to get hurt down the road and just enjoy exactly where you are right now. You can do another check-in in a few months, but until then cool it on the relationship status discussions or you’re going to get an update you don’t want to hear: It’s over.

*Do you have a relationship/dating question I can help with? Send me your letters at [email protected]