I’ve been seeing this really great guy for about a month. We’ve ended a few evenings at my place and fooled around until the wee hours of the morning, yet he has refused to sleep over even though I’ve explicitly invited him. He said he had a hard time sleeping next to someone because he’s a fussy sleeper, is used to his own bed, needs to listen to the radio, et cetera, so it would just be easier if he went home. But then last weekend, when we were in the same situation, only at his place, he made me take the bus home at 3 a.m. rather than let me sleep over (he did walk me to the bus stop). He said it had to do with his trust issues and that he found it very difficult to feel comfortable sleeping next to someone. I was upset and we talked about the issue a few days later, and he said that he had had bad experiences before (having a panic attack while a girlfriend stayed over once) and had fully intended to let me sleep over, but then got scared at the last minute and refused. We also agreed to give the sleepover a try next time. My question is, what do I do if he can’t handle sleeping next to me? Is it unreasonable for me to expect to be able to stay over at the end of the night? How do I put him at ease? And if I can’t, should this be a dealbreaker? — Losing Sleep
Only you can say what’s a dealbreaker for you, but if it were me, the deal would have been broken the minute my new boyfriend forced me to take a bus home alone at 3 in the morning. I can sympathize that the guy has issues — we all have issues — but, see, the whole fear of sleeping with another person is his issue and if he were a decent, caring human being, he would be the one worrying about how his issue affects you, not the other way around. If he were truly the “great guy” you say he is, he would have offered to sleep on the couch while you slept in his bed; he wouldn’t have thrown you out in the middle of the night.
But, if you’re committed to pursuing this relationship and at least seeing if you can help him get past this issue — or at least deal with it in a way that works for both of you — there are some things you can do. You can start with short naps together in the middle of the afternoon so he doesn’t have the anxiety of staying an entire night. If the daytime naps work well, you can work up to evening naps, or “practice sleepovers.” Of course, you may not be tired enough at, say, 9 or 10 p.m. to sleep, but even just lying down together and closing your eyes can help train your bodies to get used to the other. And without the pressure or expectation that he has to stay the entire night, your boyfriend may relax a little. A glass or wine or two might help, as well. Do either of you have an air mattress? You could try putting the mattress next to one of your beds and then sleeping individually but in the same room.
Finally, I would urge you to suggest counseling to your boyfriend. If he’s had a panic attack sharing the same bed with a girlfriend in the past and has admitted to “trust issues,” that’s really something he should be working out with a professional. Perhaps something happened in his childhood or recent past that he hasn’t effectively dealt with yet and no matter how patient you are and how many “practice naps” you take together, that’s something that’s likely to pop up again and again over the course of your relationship — and his life — if he doesn’t tackle it head-on.
When I met my friend, Sarah, two years ago, she was an antisocial, hostile, and condescending person who treated guys like crap, had no sense of style, no opinions on music and possessed a hardcore conservative leaning for which, when questioned, had no justification. For some reason, I stuck around as her friend and she has transformed into a very friendly, fashionable individual with awesome taste in music — essentially thanks to me. I know that sounds arrogant, but she admits herself that I’ve made her into what she describes as a better person. This is all great … but now I feel like she is taking on my identity. For example, she buys all the clothes that I point out and want to buy (but can’t afford), she hangs out with MY friends, whom I introduced her to, without me, and coos to guys we meet about the bands she’s “loved forever” that I introduced to her last week. I know this sounds petty, but she has taken on all my hobbies, opinions and style as her own. Her arrogance about how “hot and hip” she’s become (these are her words) is simply annoying. This wouldn’t bother me TOO much, but the last straw was when she “friended” on Facebook this guy I’m dating exclusively and started writing on his wall. Now they even have inside jokes … and they’ve only met in person once! I still want her as my friend and she is a great friend otherwise. Should I just let my pettiness go? I feel like I don’t want to share bands, stores I like to shop at, or even people with her now because I feel like she’ll take them as her own. Any advice on how I handle this or broach this topic with her? — Copycat Creator
I guess my question for you is: why do you want to be this person’s friend? Until she was a copycat version of you — adopting, it seems, even your arrogance — you say she was an “antisocial, hostile, and condescending person” with no sense of style, etc. You don’t mention a single thing you actually like about her; you don’t mention a single quality that has made her a good friend. If anything, she’s been more a project to you than a peer or a confidante. Without providing any examples, you say she’s a “great friend” and you don’t want to give her up, so I’d say that yes, you have to let go of your pettiness if you want to keep the friendship. And for God’s sake, put the brakes on creating her in your likeness. Let her be herself. Let her introduce you to some things for a change. And if you don’t like who she is when she isn’t being you, and you don’t like the things she can teach and show you? You need to accept that what you have isn’t a true friendship and you’d be doing you both a favor if you moved on.
*Do you have a relationship/dating question I can help with? Send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.