Dear Amy: My partner of four years has a group of college friends. With every reunion, I have done my best to be kind, to participate, to be funny and inquire about their lives.
It’s hard for me to engage with many of the members of his friend group. They don’t understand my humor, I am rarely asked questions about how I am doing or what I am up to, and I find that the majority of their conversations are satirical putdowns of other people from college.
I’m a realistic person; I don’t need to be liked by everyone, simply because I, myself, do not like everyone.
That being said, I love my partner.
He makes a notable effort with my numerous friends and family, winning approvals and gaining acceptance with each encounter.
I don’t understand why I haven’t had the same experience with his friends and family members.
The people in his life don’t seem to reflect the man that I know, and it is upsetting to me that I may never fit into some parts of his life as well as he fits into mine.
I’ve talked to him about this many times. He seems to want to be supportive but completely lacks the ability to understand how I feel.
I feel lonely and worthless in my efforts to make things better.
The more effort I put into trying to make these people like me, the more it feels like I’m not myself.
I’m using so much energy to gain the acceptance of people I would never choose to be around. It’s exhausting and has ignited deep-seated insecurities.
Of course, I have considered just not going to any of his gatherings, but I want to support my partner just as he supports me.
I feel I am losing no matter what decision I make, and I am asking for some guidance on how to handle this.
Dear Unsure: There is one sure way not to “lose” in this dynamic, and that is not to care quite so much and not to try so very hard to befriend people who are not your primary connections, and who might also be jerks.
If you don’t enjoy these friend reunions, then you could either skip them altogether, or show up to say hello and make your exit when you’re ready to leave.
Your boyfriend can’t necessarily change the way you feel. Changing how you feel is within your power, and this power is accessed by changing your behavior.
Ease up. Liberate yourself from the need to impress, amuse, or befriend these people. Conserve your energy. You may see that if you spend less energy, others will spend more.
There are ways your boyfriend could be more generous toward you by drawing you in, but when he is with his obnoxious friends, some of their attitudes may rub off on him.
Dear Amy: I am married to my awesome husband, and I’m incredibly blessed to have wonderful in-laws who live in a different state.
For holidays we send gifts and cards. I usually purchase the gifts and cards. It’s my wheelhouse – I love gift-giving.
My issue is that my husband hates writing cards. He says he has a hard time finding words.
I give him ideas, but sometimes the card sits for a week before he decides to write on it. It drives me a little batty since that means the cards are late.
Is it OK if I write the cards?
I feel like since they are his parents, especially Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards should be written by him (I do sign them).
What do you think?
Dear Generous: If your “love language” is giving gifts (it obviously is), then go ahead and do it, take responsibility for it, and write the cards in your own voice: “Thank you for being such a great dad! We hope you have a wonderful day. Much love always …” (and you and he can sign).
If your husband feels so uncomfortable writing a sentence or two on a card, then he should make sure to call his folks on these occasions.
Dear Amy: “Devastated” was trying to cope with his wife’s drunken rages.
I was surprised and disappointed that you didn’t recommend Al-anon for him! Attending Al-anon meetings absolutely saved my sanity in a similar situation.
Dear Upset: In my response, I did recommend Al-anon.
Readers have notified me that some newspapers edited out that line, and I’m upset, too.
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