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Dear Wendy: “Is My Boyfriend Being Disloyal?”

My boyfriend and I have been together for almost a year and we are deeply in love, but our relationship is far from perfect. He cheated on his ex to be with me and since then I have had trust issues which I am trying to work through. The problem is, my boyfriend has been invited to his ex’s friend’s 21st birthday party and I, on account of being the homewrecker, am not invited. My relationship with the party host is civil; she dated one of our friends and we see her occasionally at events. My issue is that, as a sign of loyalty, I think my boyfriend should not go to this event that I am actively being excluded from. I fear that he hasn’t made much of an effort to ask the host if I can attend, and my suspicion is that he really wants to go to see his ex and scope out her new boyfriend. I can’t see any other reason for him wanting to go because he’s not close with the host and knows next to no one going. I’m not afraid of him cheating on me because I know he is as devoted to me as I am to him; I’m just uncomfortable about the whole situation and wish he could see it from my point of view. He tells me he sees it as just another party but to me it is so much more. Am I overreacting? — The “Homewrecker”

Here’s what I know about relationships in a very small nutshell: the best ones are rarely difficult in the beginning; they all take compromise; and you have to pick your battles. Is this a battle you want to pick? Does it pose so great a threat to your relationship or your happiness that you feel like you need to make a big deal of it? And, what’s the worst that will happen if your boyfriend goes without you versus the worst that would happen if he managed to get you an invite?

If I were you, I’d be happy not to attend the party. Do you really want to hobnob with your boyfriend’s ex and her new dude? That sounds so awkward. I say let your boyfriend go and have a miserable time. You know that’s what’s going to happen anyway. He’ll go, have a lousy time, feel awkward when he sees his ex with her new boyfriend, and then come home feeling crappy he went to a party that you weren’t invited to and where he hardly knew anyone in attendance except an ex he cheated on and her friend who dissed you. I say save your fight for a bigger battle — as long as the ex-girlfriend is still a wrinkle in your dress I’m guessing there will be bigger battles — and let your boyfriend learn a lesson the hard way this time. While he’s out at an awkward party you’re lucky to miss, you can be out catching up with great friends and having a fun night.

I’ve been good friends with my boyfriend for 10 years, the last two of which we’ve been a couple. He’s amazing, my best friend, I know he’s the one, and there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for him. The problem, though, is commitment. For over the past year we have been spending every night together, whether it be my apartment or his house. My lease ends in October and what I really would like to do is just move in with him full-time. I know it’s a major step, but it’s a step I feel we’re both ready for. Since I know he has a hard time with commitment, I proposed an idea. I’ll move into his house for 30 days, after which, we’ll have a huge talk to decide if I should stay there or if we feel I should get another apartment of my own. To be quite honest, I think I should just move right in, but with his commitment issues, I tried to make it an easier adjustment and not just dive right in for the kill.

He agreed to do the 30-day trial last Saturday!!! Wooo! Tuesday, he canceled it. And I’m not going to lie — I’m heartbroken in a way I’ve never felt before. I want solid reasons as to why, and I don’t feel he is giving them to me. Do I have a right to know why my boyfriend has cold feet with me? Should I stay with him in limbo until he is ready, if ever? Should I cut my losses and move on? Should I hope one day he will give in? — Dating A Commitment Phobe

The big problem here is that you’ve decided you can speak for your boyfriend instead of letting him speak for himself. You’ve decided moving in together is a step you’re both ready for, but obviously your boyfriend disagrees. Yes, of course, you have a right to know why he disagrees, why he isn’t ready to make that step, but to hear his answer you have to be willing to listen. Can you do that? Can you ask him a question and let him answer it honestly from the heart without letting your bruised ego or hurt feelings muffle what he’s saying? I ask because from the sound of your letter you seem like you might be a little pushy and I wonder if your pushiness has made it difficult for your boyfriend to feel free to express himself.

It’s a little confusing, for example, why you’d decide that in 30 days, after you’ve already moved in you’ll have a “huge talk” about whether it’s a good idea if you stay there, instead of, you know, talking about it now, before you take up residence in his place. Do you really think it would be easier for your boyfriend to basically kick you out in a month than to just tell you now why he isn’t ready to make that step? In an effort to sort of circumvent what you perceive are his commitment issues, you’ve set him up to look like a bad guy. If he says “no” to your trial cohabitation plan, he seems unreasonable (“He won’t even live with me on a trial basis,” you might say to your friends), but if he agrees and then things don’t work, the poor guy will look like the biggest cad kicking your ass out when you have no other place lined up to live. I’m not suggesting you meant to do this, but you really put him between a rock and a hard place here.

Look, you’re definitely not wrong in wanting to move forward in your relationship; but your boyfriend isn’t wrong, either, if he simply isn’t ready for the step you want to take together. If not being on the same page right now is a dealbreaker for you — if you aren’t willing to wait until he’s genuinely ready — then move on. But don’t try to manipulate him into being ready. That’s not fair to him or you.

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