DEAR ABBY: My partner, “Josh,” and I (we’re both male) have been together for two years. We met while living in LA and were fortunate to be accepted to grad schools in NYC. We’re not living together now as our schools are in different boroughs, but we see each other most weekends.
Recently, Josh has been trying to make more friends, as our social network seems more heavily skewed toward people from my circles (school, past work, etc.). I have the benefit of living on a grad school campus with in-person classes. Ninety percent of my peers are within the three buildings around me. Josh’s school has more students spread around Manhattan.
I’m trying to figure out how I can support him making friends organically while not feeling like I’m ignoring him or missing out on time with him. We communicate well, and I’ve asked how I can help him, or if I should give him more space (i.e., not come over some weekends to give him more free time to make plans with other people), but he gets upset at me not being around when I could be.
I’m not sure how to support his social growth. I’ve tried suggesting he join student groups, take in-person classes rather than hybrid or online, join local events and groups, etc., but he seems resistant. What should I do? — OUT OF IDEAS IN THE BRONX
DEAR OUT OF IDEAS: You and your partner have very different personalities. It should be apparent that Josh likes being a part of your circle to the point that he doesn’t want to build one of his own. He also may feel more confident when you are close by.
As much as you care for him, this indicates a basic incompatibility. While this may be acceptable to you now, with time it may become an increasingly heavy burden. Couples counseling could be useful, perhaps from an LGBTQ community center or a student health center on your campus, to help you both thrash this out. From where I sit, it appears you are already doing as much to support Josh as you can.
DEAR ABBY: I am dating a guy I will be formally engaged to soon. My problem is I’m my mother’s caregiver, and it’s not an easy task. I love her and would do it all over again; however, I hope never to have to do it again. My soon-to-be fiance has several medical issues, and I don’t want to end up being HIS caregiver. I know something could just as well happen to me, but I’m very afraid of this. Please advise. — GIVING TOO MUCH IN MISSOURI
DEAR GIVING: What would you do if your boyfriend were to become seriously ill and in need of care tomorrow? Would you run for the hills? While marriage carries a stronger obligation, if you love each other, would either of you end the relationship to avoid the responsibility? There are no guarantees in life. We take the bitter with the sweet. I understand caregiver burnout, which is what I suspect is your problem, but please do not become engaged until you have worked this out.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.