I’ve been seeing a guy since October. Although we haven’t put a label on our relationship, things have evolved and are progressively becoming more serious. He went home for Christmas, so I didn’t see him for about a week, but we did text during that time. When he returned on Sunday, he invited me over for pizza, wine and a movie—our usual lazy Sunday night routine. When I asked him about how the holiday went, he said he “finally got to make out” with his best friend’s sister, and that was the best Christmas present he could hope for. He said it like it was the most ordinary thing in the world, then kissed me on the forehead and carried on like nothing was unusual! How am I supposed to react to that? I can’t get it out of my head and I don’t feel the same around him anymore. At the same time, I don’t feel like I have a “right” to be upset about it, since we don’t have a label and he seems to think that’s totally normal. — Confused
Listen, you don’t need a “label” on your relationship to deserve and demand respect. This guy is a total jerk and the “right” reaction when he told you he finally got to make out with his best friend’s sister would have been to get up, put on your coat and walk out of his life forever. Since you didn’t do that in the moment and he seems like such a dummy, you’ll have to make the link between his being a total douche and your dumping him very explicit. A woman with any semblance of self-respect does not put up with the kind of behavior you’ve described. As your new year’s resolution, I recommend repeating this daily mantra: “I deserve a man who’s not a douchebag.”
I’ve been in a serious relationship for over a year. My boyfriend and I don’t argue a lot, treat each other with respect, and have a great relationship in general. However, I feel insecure about my relationship. I can’t help but think that no matter what my boyfriend says or does, he doesn’t really love me. Sometimes I even find myself thinking that I don’t even deserve him because he’s so normal, and I have so many issues. I’m constantly thinking that he doesn’t love me, isn’t attracted to me, and is just dating me until he finds someone better. My boyfriend has never given me any reason to feel this way; therefore, I don’t think these feelings are rational at all. My insecurities are starting to hurt my relationship. How do I work past these issues? — Insecure Mess
If your issues are so great that they’re affecting your emotional well-being and creating irrational insecurity in your relationship, it’s time to seek professional counseling. You’ll never have a healthy relationship if you don’t address the baggage you’re hauling around. In addition, you’d be wise to invest your time and energy in activities that get you out of your head and boost your self-esteem. Think about what talents and interests you have and consider enrolling in classes or joining clubs that utilize and sharpen those skills. Finally, have a frank conversation with your boyfriend about the way you’re feeling. Let him know that this is about you and your issues and you plan to seek therapy so you can contribute more fully to a happy, healthy relationship with him. If he truly loves you and is invested in your relationship, he’ll support you through whatever help you need to get emotionally healthy. And a man who does that isn’t someone who’s just dating you until he finds someone better — he’s a man who’s fully committed to you because he knows you’re worth it.
To everyone: Happy New Year! Thank you for your letters, your many insightful comments, and helping to make this column a joy to write this year. I wish you all the very best in 2010 and look forward to many more engaging and supportive conversations with you. As always, if you have a relationship/dating question I can help with, send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.