Dear Wendy: “My IM Buddy Wants To Come Visit: Awkward!”

I’m 26 and have been in a happy relationship with a wonderful guy for two years. Over the last year, I’ve found it helpful to supplement my Russian language courses with IM sessions on a reputable language exchange website. I chat with people of either gender, and my boyfriend is aware of this. One native speaker is particularly helpful and wants to improve his English, so we have been IM-ing twice a week for an hour over the last year. We discuss food, music, or movies, but we don’t flirt. In fact, until his recent separation with his wife, he’d often speak lovingly of her (as I do of my BF). Yesterday, he asked if we could grab coffee when he comes to town. I agreed, thinking that he was in town on business and coffee would just be a “since I’m already here” thing. Then I found out (after persistent questioning) that he’s coming to Toronto for a wedding, but is planning to fly to Calgary to meet me in person, before returning to France where he works. I know he’s not rich, and he doesn’t seem to be coming to Calgary for any other reason. I’m hard-pressed to believe that someone would go that far out of his way just for a short platonic meeting. What is he really expecting of me? Should I ask my boyfriend to join us? — Lost in Translation

Eek, this has disaster written all over it, LIT. Drop whatever you’re currently doing and immediately tell your Russian language friend that you’ve given it some more thought and perhaps you’ve misunderstood him, but if he’s making a special trip to Calgary just to see you, you think it would be inappropriate to meet up, considering he’s just split from his wife and you have a serious boyfriend who would have a problem with another man flying across the world to have coffee with his girlfriend. It’s obvious you’re on two different pages as far as this “friendship” is concerned. Even if he has nothing but platonic intentions, he’s still far more invested in your friendship than you are if he’s willing to shell out big bucks and time to come visit you. An imbalance of this magnitude cannot spell good things. Do both of you a favor and put the kibosh on this before it gets too awkward. I’m sure there are plenty of other Russians who can help you with your conversational skills in the future. Maybe even female ones!

My boyfriend and I are both 23 and have been together for two years. After two months of acting distant and not wanting sex, my boyfriend recently told me he wants a “break” from the relationship. His reasons are that he isn’t sure what he wants to do after he graduates (which is in two months) and he wants more alone time for himself. My concern is that I know breaks don’t usually end up helping relationships because it can make both parties more distant. Also, I live with him in his parents’ house because my own parents’ house is crazy and I could not continue living there for my own sanity. I am nowhere near being self-sufficient, as I’m attending school and only have a part-time job that would not cover any expenses even if I tried to rent a room somewhere. I’m supposed to be getting a car soon and in the meantime I am borrowing my boyfriend’s to get to work and school. He said that once I get my car he would like me to move (some) of my stuff out and maybe sleep somewhere else a few times a week so that we can spend more time apart. I’m not sure what to do with myself because I have so few options. Plus, our relationship has actually gotten stronger since he said he wanted a break and we’re now having more sex because he isn’t stressing about it as much. — Dependent

Oh, Dependent, please don’t fool yourself. Having sex more frequently doesn’t mean your relationship is back on track; it simply means your boyfriend/ex doesn’t feel guilty screwing you anymore since he finally confessed he wants out of the relationship. And just because he doesn’t want to be your boyfriend anymore doesn’t mean he won’t turn down sex. Sex feels good, and if you’re there and available, he might as well get something out of it. I’m sorry to sound harsh, but that’s just the way it is.

Look, for a variety of reasons, this situation isn’t working. You’ve got to get out of your current living environment. You’re 23. It’s time to be independent. If you can’t afford to rent a room on the income you’re making now, consider asking for more hours at work, finding a second (and even third) job, cutting your school course load if you have to, and applying for financial aid. In the interim, consider moving home temporarily until you figure out your next step, or asking a friend if you can stay with her (and contributing to the rent/household expenses as much as you can) until you’re able to afford a place of your own. Just because your options are few and perhaps not the most desirable doesn’t mean you should continue taking advantage of your boyfriend and his family. He’s basically told you it’s time for you to move out. So do it before things get messy.

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