Dear Miss U,
So my girlfriend and I have had a stable relationship for almost 3 years. There is one guy in her grade back home that she’s friends with. Tonight, when we were on the phone, she asked, “What if I like him?” I had no idea what to say. First off, I know we are in love because we have shared so much about ourselves and have done things that proved it to me. She is a perfectionist and this is her last year of high school and it is extremely stressful. This guy is a very good friend and I have never had a problem with him except when he flirts and doesn’t stop. She says she has told him to stop but obviously it hasn’t worked. I think the combination of stress, me not being there with her, and this guy that frankly is kinda similar to me being there is leading her to think this. I mean just the other night she told me she is confused about school and life but she knows for sure she is not confused about me and she wants to be with me the rest of her life. I really love this girl and I don’t want to seem desperate and needy but I still want to tell her that flirting is not okay even though it is harmless. I also don’t think that thought about liking this other guy is really a true thought and it is just from the perfect storm I mentioned above. How can I really make her feel appreciated while in an LDR? I am a college student so big expensive gifts or anything with a lot of money is basically out of the question.
If she is worried she is developing the kind of feelings for this guy that will jeopardize her relationship with you, she needs to take steps to protect everything you have worked to build together and distance herself from him. The onus here is on her, not you.
I’m pretty sure she’s probably figured out that flirting isn’t harmless by now, but I’d still encourage you to gently let her know that her choosing to spend leisure time with someone she might be developing feelings for is actually really painful for you (not to mention rude) and that it distresses you that her friend doesn’t respect the two of you enough to cut it out. You can’t tell her to stop, you can’t choose her friends, but you can tell her how it makes you feel; keeping the focus on your emotions not on her actions.
In response to your question: different people need to be shown love or appreciation in different ways. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for everyone, but I’ll give you a few suggestions regardless.
I feel appreciated when my partner gives specific examples as to why I’m awesome, so start by verbally recognizing her hard work (studying hard, working toward a financially secure future for you both, etc) and the things she does specifically to enrich the relationship, eg:
“I really appreciate how you prioritize our nightly call,” or “I love that you don’t forget me no matter how crazy life gets, I know it isn’t always easy to find time.”
Some people love a bit of PDA and want you to shout your feelings from the rooftop (or your Facebook wall) while others like to keep things a bit low-key; a handwritten love letter in the mail, complete with glitter and rose petals fits the bill.
If you want to send her a gift it’s important to pay attention to her habits and needs. If she loves coffee and uses it to study all night she might appreciate trying a new flavor or you can find/make coffee scented candles. Something that encourages her to take time for herself and actually relax a bit could also be a real winner and doesn’t have to be expensive. A bath bomb and a good book perhaps?
Finding a way to tell her (and have her believe you) that it’s perfectly okay not to have everything sorted out and that life doesn’t need to be perfect also has potential. A typography pillow with a nice quote or an eye-catching desktop background you made just for her could convey just such a message.
A list of ten things you love about her? A potted plant to brighten her world? A promise ring?
I feel that it’s a good sign she has spoken to you about her feelings and confusion, and it says a lot about you that you’re going to step up your efforts rather than getting angry; it’s beautiful.
Hold on to each other and keep being a team, you’ve got this.
Dear Miss U,
I’ll get straight to the point: I have absolutely no idea how to tell my parents about my partner. I’m an incredibly private (and secretive) person that never shares any personal information, especially with my parents. Telling them is unimaginable, and just the thought makes me highly uncomfortable and causes anxiety. All my instincts scream to run away. However, there’s no other way to explain multiple visits to his country or where I found the money for such trips (for the “hotels”). It would be too suspicious and my parents are already ridiculously paranoid. Which means I have to tell them. Problem is, 2 months ago I visited his country, and my mother asked me if I was planning to meet anyone there (because I was insisting a bit too much to book the trip). I told her no (wasn’t about to jeopardize the visit). She asked again when I returned, told her no. I’ll have to let them know that I lied now though, because I either have to tell them I’ve known him for only 2 months (months since the trip) which is too short, or the 1.5 years I’ve actually known him for (and there’s no way they’d believe I didn’t meet him while I was there).
So yeah. I’m at a loss. I considered telling them before his next visit here, so they can meet him immediately. I probably won’t tell them we’re in a LDR. Even admitting a friendship makes me really uneasy. Like I’m forced to share my BDSM preferences with my parents, that’s how terrified I feel.
Do you have any suggestions about how I could approach it?
Luckily, they sound like the type of parents to keep asking which means you don’t need to pluck up the courage to start the conversation you just have to prepare yourself to respond truthfully; so start practicing. Figure out exactly what you want to tell them and go over and over it, in the shower, in a notebook, as you walk to school or work. Say it until it’s natural to say and then next time your mother asks use the responses you’ve been working on. If you need to prompt the question because his visit is getting near you could jog her memory of your travels by leaving a souvenir or photo laying around or by casually mentioning you are planning your next trip.
The more lies you tell the harder it will be for you, so I would recommend saying, “I’m not ready to talk about it,” if you get to a point where you think you’re going to lie. Legally you’re an adult, they can’t stop you seeing him and I’d like to hope they are accustomed to your private nature by now.
If all else fails, “There’s someone I’d like you to meet,” should get the job done.