Boyfriend on Outside Too Long
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Dear Christine,

My girlfriend and I have been dating for over five years.

I welcome her into all areas of my life with open arms. She admittedly has problems sharing her friends, family, and life with me. She says itís an intrusion on her independence.

It took two years for her to introduce me to her family, and she still rarely invites me to their functions. Since she works with mostly women, she says staff parties are for ladies only. However, one day when I picked her up from her office, I overheard her co-worker comment how she and her boyfriend were hung over for two days after the last staff party.

She tells me white lies because she ďdoesnít want to upset" me, which makes me trust her even less. Is this relationship worth saving? What should I do? -- OUT OF THE LOOP Ė AUSTELL, GEORGIA

Dear Out Of The Loop,

In the beginning of relationships, many of us are leery of our worlds colliding. Itís quite common to keep work, family, friends, and lovers compartmentalizedóat first.

Whoís to say when itís right to let the boundaries down? But it is safe to say that it should be somewhere before the five-year mark.

You have to put your foot down. Tell her itís all or nothing. Either youíre her full-time boyfriend or youíre gone.

Itís not a matter of invading her privacy; itís a matter of sharing your lives. The relationship is only worth saving if sheís willing to allow it to evolve.

Dear Christine,

My six-month relationship with Carl was fantastic until recently. I credit your column with helping give me some of the tools needed to develop our relationship to this point. However, Iím in the midst of a streak of bad luck, including the loss of my job and a dreadful move, followed by depression.

Carl has been avoiding talking to me, especially about my problems. Our relationship is all I can think of, yet he isnít there for me. I feel so insignificant. I love him, and it breaks my heart to see our love fading like this. -- SHERRI Ė LONDON, ONTARIO

Dear Sherri,

With all the turmoil in your life, your first concern shouldnít be Carl but what you can do to reclaim power over your life.

Carl could be staying out of your way so you can get your life back on track. Or perhaps heís overwhelmed by your need to be rescued from your grocery list of problems.

No one can fix our lives for us when things go wrong. It is, however, reassuring to be able to vent and discuss possible solutions. Try doling your problems in smaller doses and spread them out between friends, family, and perhaps a counselor.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If youíre lacking an inner sense of security, you canít be part of a solid relationship. Take charge of your life first. Then you can work on your relationship.

Once your life is sorted out, Carl will appreciate the strong woman that you are. And if it isnít meant to be, youíll be fine because youíll have found the inner strength to take care of yourself.

Have a question, a thought, or a story to share (anonymity guaranteed)? Email Christine at

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