Take Care of Yourself in Your Relationship

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Dating-Speak” ™ ©2014: Our Lives of Style authorityLaura Pugliese shares must-know dating “Do’s and Don’ts” that will help you find success in your relationships:

Lives of Style: My boyfriend decided to get inebriated during a barbecue–and while I’m fine if he has a few drinks, I didn’t relish trying to get him to the car and having to be the designated driver. Thank God I didn’t consume a lot of alcohol at the party, because I wasn’t expecting to drive. He doesn’t drink very much normally–although, as this is our first summer together, I don’t have a long history with him. Nevertheless, it was a real turn-off. Should I just let it go and watch his behavior for the rest of the summer? Or should I mention something to him?

Laura: I think it’s a good idea to have a talk with him about it before it happens again for a couple of reasons. Since you haven’t said anything he may not think it would be a problem for you if he wants to drink more heavily in the future at another function, and faced with it spontaneously again you may feel very angry and become completely turned off. Also, what if you happened to drink a bit more and didn’t feel comfortable driving? It’s dangerous to drive while intoxicated, and it also happens to be illegal.

With that in mind you can say, “I want to talk with you about something that felt uncomfortable to me when we went to (insert name) barbecue. Is now a good time?” Wait for him to say, “Yes,” then you can say, “You had every right to drink as much as you want, and I don’t think you were trying to do anything deliberately to cause me discomfort. However I have realized that it didn’t feel good to me to unexpectedly have to help you to the car and then drive. Thankfully I didn’t drink very much, and I was able to drive. It would feel best to me if we can make an agreement to check in with each other in the future if either one of us wants to indulge and have an extra drink or two. What are your thoughts about what I am sharing with you, and what do you think about us making that agreement?”

Lives of Style: My fiancé has a daughter and she is six—and I adore her. I know she has to be his most important priority because she is so young. He shares custody, so he has her with him fifty per cent of the time. The problem is with the way he parents her. I respect how much he loves her, but if she misbehaves he doesn’t remonstrate her at all–thus letting her get away with bad behavior. He told me that I am not her mother and that he doesn’t want me reprimanding her under any circumstances. It’s getting harder and harder to show up and not have a voice. What can I say to him?

Laura: This is a very complex situation and not one to take lightly because it will definitely impact your life greatly if you marry this man with his daughter living with you both 50% of the time. If he is adamant about letting her get away with bad behavior without consequences, then you must consider if you are willing to live with the energy that his behavior will create. There is a high risk that you will resent it and it can cause serious problems in your relationship.

My suggestion to you is that you seek professional council with a marriage and family therapist who is very experienced with helping partners who are in your position before you speak to him about it. It’s not just about what and how to say it. This is very serious business, and based on what you have shared I think you need to seek professional council in this area before you marry this man.

Lives of Style: I’ve been dating my boyfriend for six months and I just got pregnant. My boyfriend’s parents are very cold to me—they were never warm but now they are icy. It really hurts my feelings. I know he is close to them, and it upsets me that he doesn’t speak with them about being kinder to me–especially now that we are going to be building a family together. Is there anything I can say to them–and my boyfriend, to ameliorate this situation.

Laura: Considering that you are pregnant and the air is already uncomfortable between his parents and you, I think it’s best for you not to attempt to go directly to them and possibly cause yourself more discomfort in case they don’t respond well. I suggest that you go to your boyfriend. You can say, “I want to talk with you about something that feels very uncomfortable to me. Is now a good time?” Wait for him to say, “Yes,” then you can say, “I know your parents love you very much, and I admire that you are so close to them. I want to do everything in my power to have a good relationship with them, but I feel uncomfortable because I feel like they don’t like me. I feel even more sensitive to this now that we are building a family. What are your thoughts about the feelings I am sharing with you, and do you have any suggestions on how to inspire your parents to want to be closer with me as well?”

Lives of Style: I went out on a date with a man with whom I have had the biggest crush. He is handsome, smart, has a high-powered job and is nice—a total package. On the date I became 100% tongue-tied, reticent and I wasn’t my normally bubbly self. I was so shy that at the conclusion of the date—being afraid that he would walk away and wouldn’t want to kiss me–I just muttered, “Thanks for the date,” and rapidly strode away to my car. I feel like an idiot now. Is there anything I can say to him at this time? Can I call him to explain that I was nervous and that I really like him?

Laura: If you know that you behaved in a way that gave off a very different signal than you intended due to nerves—and it is really bothering you, then I think it is a good idea to make the call, so that you can feel better. Approach it without expectations. With that in mind—you can say, “I wanted to call you and thank you again for such a lovely date. I really enjoyed spending time with you, and I want to be honest and tell you that I believe that my shyness and my nerves got the better of me, and it’s been bothering me that what I was experiencing as feeling tongue-tied might have come across to you as cold, which is not at all how I felt. What are your thoughts about what I am sharing with you?”

Lives of Style: My boyfriend and I took a photography course for a week in Arizona. When we were there a man in our group started overtly flirting with me, sending me funny texts and singling me out to speak to during every break. I was flattered, so I smiled and bantered with this other man—but I didn’t think I was flirting. Well, maybe just a little. Near the end of our trip my boyfriend got incensed at me and criticized me for flirting–and continuing to flirt for days. He pulled away and now is cold toward me. Was I wrong? What could I say to another man in the future who does this–and what can I say to my boyfriend? I don’t want anyone to come between us.

Laura: You were away with your boyfriend and exchanging banter, texts, and this man was singling you out to speak during every break! In all honesty I am surprised you still have a boyfriend, as I can see clearly why your boyfriend was so upset. It may not have been your intention, but I’m sure when you engaged with that man repeatedly it felt very disrespectful to your boyfriend. You had every right to do it, but in my opinion it wasn’t the best choice if you want to keep your boyfriend.

Imagine if the shoe was on the other foot and YOU were witnessing your boyfriend do all of that with another woman while you sat there and watched. I imagine it would not feel good to you.

I think it would be in your best interest to say this to your boyfriend, “I realize that I made a mistake and should not have been engaging that man on the trip so much. I didn’t think it through at the time, but since thinking about it, I feel badly because I know it didn’t come across respectful to you. I want you to know that I will not do that again in the future. I don’t want to do anything to cause you discomfort or put a wedge between us.”

The next time a man is attempting to engage you in such a manner you can say, “Thank you so much. I am flattered by your interest to talk to me. I don’t feel comfortable to do that because I have a boyfriend, and it would not be respectful to him for me to engage further with you.”

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

Remember, log onto http://www.livesofstyle.com/the_last_word/ and email Laura at Laura@livesofstyle.com.
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