Dating Dilemmas Answered

Lives of Style’s DatingSpeak ™ ©2014 addresses questions about dating, relationships and communication.

Our Lives of Style authority–Laura Pugliese, shares must-know dating “Do’s and Don’ts” that will help you find success in your relationships.

Lives of Style: I have a question about etiquette regarding my grandmother and my boyfriend. His family is on the East Coast. He and I live together in California and we frequently eat over at my grandma’s (she’s a great cook). He’s now gotten so close to her that he calls her, “Grandma,” and will drop over to see her or eat with her, even when I am working some nights (I’m a nurse.) I don’t mind it–I actually like it, but he never contributes food or pays for a meal. How can I encourage him to take her (us) out to dinner or to bring food over and not treat her like a free cafeteria?

Laura:  I understand that you care about your grandma and want to take care of her feelings, however she is a grown woman who is responsible for her own feelings and has a choice in what she wants and accepts. Unless she brings it up to you, states that it is a problem for her, and asks for your help– I don’t think it is your place to decide it is an issue for her and attempt to fix it. I do think it is a great idea to discuss with your boyfriend that you want for the two of you to take her out periodically to show appreciation to her for all the meals for which she welcomes the both of you to her home.

You can say, “Honey, I want to talk with you about something that has been on my mind that I want your help with regarding my grandma. Is now a good time?” Wait for him to say, “Yes.” Then you can say, “I love that you and my grandmother have become so close that you go over there to have dinner with her sometimes when I am at work. I have been thinking about how she is always welcoming us for meals, and I want to talk to you about something I think would be nice for us to do for her periodically as a way to show her appreciation and to take care of her sometimes. What are your thoughts about us taking her out and treating her to a meal periodically as a way to show her gratitude so she can just relax and enjoy her time a dinner out with us? It would really mean the world to me? What are your thoughts about doing that?”

Lives of Style: I’m engaged to be married to an older man who is set in his ways and doesn’t want to go to pre-marital counseling, although I believe this would be beneficial for our relationship and we have issues to discuss that are important for the success of our marriage. I’ve brought the subject up numerous times and he always says, “We’re fine,” or “We don’t need that.” What can I say to convince him to go to counseling?

Laura: You can say, “Honey, I want to talk to you about something that is very important to me that affects our relationship. Is now a good time?” What for him to say, “Yes.” Then you can say, “I have been thinking a lot about our discussion about going to premarital counseling before we get married. I understand that you think we are fine and that we do not need to go, and you have every right to not want to do it. I want to be upfront and honest with you that I will not feel comfortable getting married without us going to premarital counseling because when it comes down to it marriage is a legal contract that will impact both of our lives. I have learned the hard way not commit to or sign any legally binding agreements without seeking expert guidance. It is most important to me for both of us to have the opportunity to express our needs, wants, and expectations with someone who is skilled to best assist us to communicate and make the right decisions and agreements that is for the highest good of our union. What are your thoughts about what I am sharing with you, and are you willing to reconsider and go with me for counseling?”

Lives of Style: My boyfriend was engaged to another girl before he me, and she’s recently emailed him to ask how he is doing. He showed me her email and was totally open about it. I still feel jealous. What can I say to him to reinforce his good behavior and to keep my jealousy in check?

Laura: Your boyfriend does not have control over the fact that his ex-girlfriend contacted him and asked how he was doing. What he did have control of is whether or not he disclosed that information to you, which he did do. Unfortunately feelings don’t ask for permission. They come when and how they come, and the best thing you can do is decide whether or not to act out of them irrationally or deal with them rationally. It’s apparent that you do understand that it is best for you to deal with the feelings of jealousy you are having and not dump them onto your boyfriend. With that in mind you can say, “Honey I really appreciate that you were open and honest with me about getting that email from your ex. It wasn’t entirely comfortable to hear that she contacted you, but I realized that what did feel good and what really mattered the most was that you told me about it.”

Lives of Style: My boyfriend of two years and I were caught together on my parents’ sofa. We were almost undressed and thought they had gone to bed and were asleep. What can I say to my parents? Should he say anything?

Laura: It is a very awkward situation for everyone involved. It is your parents’ house, and you are their child who made the decision to “go there” under their roof while they were home, so I think you should talk to them and apologize. Your parents may or may not feel comfortable discussing it with your boyfriend, and your boyfriend may or may not want to address it with your parents. It will show good character if he is willing to, but it does need to be his decision. If he is unwilling to do it, then that is information about him you should consider going forward in your relationship.

Keep in mind that your parents also have a right to decide if they want to hear from him about it or not. Discuss the issue with your boyfriend and ask him if he is willing to speak to your parents and apologize to them before you mention anything to your parents about him speaking to them, in order to respect that it is his decision to do it or not do it. If he says that he is willing to, then you can mention his desire to do that after you talk with them alone first.

To your parents you can say, “I want to talk with you about what happened the other night when you walked in on (insert your boyfriends name).” Is now a good time?” Wait for them to say, “Yes.” Then you can say ” It was not appropriate for us to be fooling around like that in your house, and I want to apologize to you for making the decision to do that. It was very uncomfortable to me, and I imagine it had to be very uncomfortable to you both. I feel badly, and I want to let you know that I will not do that again in the future. What are your thoughts about what I am sharing with you?” If your boyfriend has agreed that he wants to address it as well, then you can add, “(Insert boyfriend’s name) also wants to talk with you and apologize to you both. Are you open to hearing what he has to say as well?”

Lives of Style: When my boyfriend complained about the cost of things we had already agreed to spend money on I brought up my boyfriend’s past history of his giving money to a woman he dated before me. I don’t want to bring up that past history again. What could I say in the future if/when he complains about our expenditures?

Laura: You can say, “You have every right to complain about the cost of these things, but we previously discussed these costs and you willingly agreed to them. It feels very unfair to be hearing complaints about them now. I have not made, nor do I intend to make agreements with you to complain about them later or renege on the them when  I willingly agreed to them unless a serious issue arises that is of legal, moral, or ethical compromise. If there were an issue that caused this agreement to become illegal, immoral or unethical, then I would fully understand you addressing it to renegotiate it. Since that is clearly not the case I want to ask you to stick to our agreement and not complain about it. Will you do that please?”

While Laura may not be able to email each of you individually, she will answer select questions.

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