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DEAR HARRIETTE: I was recently introduced to my boyfriend’s mom. My boyfriend and his mother have a great relationship, and I love that, but I’m realizing a few things about them that worry me. The main thing is her extreme defensiveness about him. I was joking about the way he drives — he’s a pretty fast driver, and it’s scary — and his mother told me that she taught him how to drive so she “knows that I’m exaggerating.” I was caught off guard by this response. I know it may seem minor, but I’ve noticed this pattern of defensiveness and lack of accountability between them. Should I be worried? – – Stop Babying Him
DEAR STOP BABYING HIM: The relationship between a mother and her son is important to observe and understand for the man’s partner. It shows a lot about how he engages with others, especially women. Continue to notice how they interact. Also, notice how they include you in their banter. You will have to fig- ure out a way to become part of the conversation and flow of communication. This will take time. Since the two of them are close, his mother is clinging right now and using the “he can do no wrong” strategy in talking to you. This may settle down over time.
What’s more important is for you to communicate with your boyfriend. Let him know about the things that are important to you about your relationship — like his dangerous driving. Don’t use his mother to try to get that point across. Talk to him. The stronger your bond, the less his mother can drive a wedge between you.
DEAR HARRIETTE: Hanging out with my best friend has become quite a chore lately. I’m the only one who ever has suggestions for what we should do or where we should go. She never rec- ommends anything, and then when we finally do what I suggest, she acts like she doesn’t want to be there. I’m starting to think that maybe my friend just doesn’t like spending time with me. Is this normal? Should I ask her why she does this? — Only One With Suggestions
DEAR ONLY ONE WITH SUGGESTIONS: Yes. Talk to your friend. Ask her what’s up. If her behavior is different from the past, point out when she changed, and ask what happened. You want to find out if she is OK and if anything has changed in her life to make her distracted or uninterested. For example, when people fall in love or start dating, they lose some interest in their friendships – – at least for a while. Similarly, if someone in the family is sick or stressed, the reality of family life may be clouding her ability to hang out and have fun. Find out if there are legitimate extenuating circumstances.
If she blows it off, stop her and make it clear that the way she has been acting makes you think she doesn’t want to hang out with you anymore. Tell her what you want from her, namely being a participatory friend. Meanwhile, stop trying so hard. Know that not every friendship lasts forever. If she has lost interest in spending time with you, you don’t need to continue a one-sided friendship. That’s when you let go.
Harriette Cole is a lifestyl- ist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and acti- vate their dreams. You can send questions to askharri- firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106