Dear Wendy: “Should I Take Sides In My Friends’ Feud?”

It’s time again for “Shortcuts.” For every question, I’ll give my advice in two sentences or less, because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great, being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go. Today we discuss taking sides in friendship fights, and a bunch of boyfriends saying a bunch of stupid things.

Over the years I have had a very close friendship with two wonderful women. Julie is married and just had her first child, Karen is a lesbian and in a new relationship, and I’m straight and single. While we are normally able to avoid the complications that come with three-way friendships (talking behind each other’s backs, etc.), Julie recently expressed to me that she has been very hurt by Karen’s lack of interest in her new baby and distant behavior (not calling, not coming out to visit). Karen called me just the other day and said that she feels Julie has made dismissive comments in the past about her lesbianism and feels like Julie’s hetero-normative world is being imposed on her or something like that. To be honest, I think Karen is being kind of a jerk and is making this about her when it’s not about her at all! It’s about Julie having a baby and wanting the love and support of her friends, lesbian ones included. Can I tell Karen this or is it going to seem like I’m taking the “straight” side of the argument? — Third Wheel

Yeah, it sounds like Karen’s being a jerk, but despite how close you are to both of them, you can’t ever really know what goes on in a relationship/friendship unless you’re one of the two people in it. Best to leave this issue between Karen and Julie to sort out or you may end up with one less friend.

I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for almost two years now. Things have been going great but I’m planning to study abroad in Europe from February to May. We’ve talked about this over and over again but he is totally against it and constantly reminds me that I’m leaving him. Currently we’ve been doing long distance for the past three months (and it ends next month) but we get to see each other about every three weeks. And we’ve already been having trouble communicating and getting enough time to talk. If three weeks is hard for us, I”m worried about how bad three months would be. I don’t want to be stressed out with a relationship while I’m studying and having fun in Europe. I can see myself having a good future with him and I’m afraid that my studying abroad will ruin everything. What should I do? — Lost in Translation

If your boyfriend can’t support your three-month stint in Europe and the learning opportunities and experiences you’d have there, he isn’t the type of guy you want by your side for the long haul. If he holds you back from this now, what will he be holding you back from in the future?

My boyfriend and I have been dating for two years, and we are in love. A couple of months ago, I moved to another city for graduate school, so we’re dating long distance, and it’s going well — I miss him, and he misses me, but we’re staying together. Recently, my boyfriend’s brother has been talking about moving in with/ marrying a girl he’s been with less than a year. Since his brother has been discussing this, my boyfriend has been freaking out and saying things like “I don’t want to get married until I’m 40,” something he’s never said before. I’m only 22, but I really love my boyfriend and can see us having a future together, but his recent opinions on marriage are making me nervous. Before I moved, we talked about we agreed that after grad school we would look for new jobs in a new city together (step 2 here!), but I’m getting nervous about what he sees for our future now. I haven’t said anything yet; should I? And what should I say? — Nervous In Love

I wouldn’t worry about it — people say things all the time they don’t really mean or haven’t thought out clearly — but if you’re really concerned, wait until he says something similar again and reply, “How is that supposed to make me feel?” If nothing else, it will get him thinking about the impact his words have on others and maybe, in the future, he’ll think before he speaks.

I started dating my boyfriend when I was 14 years old and we continued to date through out high school and then college. When we graduated college we went back-packing through Europe for a few months and then we both moved to Washington DC together. At the time, I still didn’t feel ready to live together, so we continued things just as well as they were. Then, a few weeks after we moved here, he told me he wanted space from me and couldn’t marry me until he saw what else was out there (I am the only girl he has ever dated and slept with). We didn’t speak for a few months. Rumor had it, he started dating someone else, even though it never seemed serious. A few moths later, he wrote me a letter saying that he was still madly in love with me and wanted to end up together, but again, was so busy with med school and couldn’t be with me right now, or devote the time I have always wanted and gotten from him. I just don’t know what to do. Should I wait around for him, or start exploring myself as he is the only other person I have dated also? Should I let him go? If he really loved me, wouldn’t he try to make it work right now, not five years from now? — Confused in DC

Move on, have fun and date around. If you’re meant to be, you’ll end up back together eventually and you’ll be grateful for the experiences that will make you a better lover/partner/person (regardless of whom you end up with).

I have been seeing my boyfriend for about three months now. He lives 4 1/2 hours away, but works in my area for a week and then goes home for a week. When he’s here, he is always happy and up-beat at work, sending me sweet messages, and telling me he misses me. Then after work, when he comes to my house, he is grouchy and irritable. When he returns to his home, he is the same way — happy and joking and talks to me in the evenings, sometimes for a couple hours. It’s only when he is physically around me that he is so morose. On the phone he jokes and teases me and tells me how happy I make him, but face-to-face, he barely says a word! I try to initiate a conversation, but get one- or two-word answers. I’ve never been in a situation quite like this, any advice would be helpful! — Frustrated in Colorado

Why on earth would you continue dating someone who is always “grouchy and irritable” when you hang out with him? In the words of Dan Savage, DTMFA!

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