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DEAR HARRIETTE: My boyfriend didn’t defend me against another man, and now I can’t look at him the same.
My boyfriend and I were out at a nightclub over the weekend when a drunk man started to verbally harass me. He shouted several profanities at me for no reason. The man was eventually escorted out of the club, but I was visibly upset well before he left. My boyfriend didn’t say a word to the man while he was shouting at me. He didn’t defend me at all. When I asked him why he didn’t defend me, he said that it only would have escalated the situation, and he didn’t want us to get kicked out as well.
I can’t look at him the same now. My feelings are hurt that he wouldn’t instinctively defend me against someone who was harassing me. Would this be a silly reason to end the relationship? — Can’t Look at Him the Same
DEAR CAN’T LOOK AT HIM THE SAME: You have every reason to be upset about what happened at the club and about how your boyfriend reacted. Your boyfriend is not wrong, however, in saying that the situation likely would have escalated had he jumped in. What could have happened instead? Your boyfriend could have guided you to another part of the club, away from this drunk man. He could have spoken to the bouncer and asked to have the man removed. Yes, he could have done any number of things — definitely more than nothing.
Rather than dumping him just yet, talk to him. Tell him that your expectation is that he will do anything in his power to keep you safe in a dangerous situation. Ask him if he feels the same. Tell him it upset you that he did nothing when you were faced with that drunk man. Talk to him about his thoughts on his role in an emergency. Get a sense of how he thinks. You do want to know if he will have your back. You can let him know how upsetting it was for you that he did nothing. Sure, he may not have chosen to jump in the man’s face, but there were other things he could have done. As you talk, figure out how your boyfriend values you and how he thinks about handling crises. Then, decide if you want to stay with him.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I borrowed money from a family member over the weekend and told them I’d pay them back this upcoming Friday when I receive my paycheck. It was no more than $100, but I really needed it so that my bank account wouldn’t be overdrawn. Today they asked for the money back. I reminded them that I do not get paid until Friday, so that’s the soonest I could have it. It is important to note that this is a family member who lives in my home rent-free and does not pay any bills. They are unemployed, so I pay for everything they do. I buy groceries, I pay their phone bill and I pay their rent. I know they need the money back because they don’t have any income, but the fact of the matter is that they owe me way more than I could ever owe them. Should I pay them back? — You Owe Me
DEAR YOU OWE ME: You should pay them back, as promised, on Friday. You should sit down with them and discuss finances directly, including how they might start contributing toward household expenses or whatever other plan you devise.