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Carolyn Hax: Relationships more than appearances

Wed., Nov. 3, 2010

Dear Carolyn: So a few months ago, during the summer, my boyfriend of three-plus years and I were going through some rocky times. He thought about moving out of the apartment we share, and told his good friend, “Jess.” Well, Jess apparently talked about our potential breakup to “Mike,” who used to be good friends with my boyfriend.

So oh boy wasn’t it awkward when I went to a dinner party only to learn that Mike had proposed to his girlfriend.

Since then, my boyfriend and I have worked on things and are doing much better.

Well, the “Save the Date” card just came for Mike’s wedding, and it was only addressed to my boyfriend, not to both of us.

Am I being petty for being upset? Maybe I’m reading too much into this but I would really like to confront him about it. So far I have just made comments, like, “Well, I hope you will have fun at their wedding. … ” – Annoyed in D.C.

Hey, that’s the signature I was going to use.

The three problems you cite (Jess’ bean-spilling, Mike’s announcement, the postcard exclusion) are suspiciously centered on appearances. Each is primarily about how others regard your relationship.

Meanwhile, your postcard reaction wasn’t just to say to your boyfriend, “I hope that’s a mistake” or “Does Mike think we broke up?” Instead, you’re pretending (badly) to blow it off while hoping your boyfriend realizes you’re angry and hurt.

There is so little authenticity to the way you’re conducting yourself that your getting along with your boyfriend isn’t encouraging news.

Your relationship is for you and your boyfriend and no one else. You are either happy with each other, or you need to break up. Whether others approve, disapprove, delight in your successes, delight in your failures, or just don’t care, matters only in the very narrow context of the time you spend with these other people.

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