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Carolyn Hax: Guilt and pressure are not romantic

Dear Carolyn: My boyfriend of three months constantly wants to be together. We’re still in high school and see each other there every day. I appreciate that he likes hanging out with me so much, and I love hanging out with him. But he’s insistent on me being with him whenever it’s remotely possible.

When he’s asking me to procrastinate on schoolwork, or skimp on practice for an upcoming audition, I start to put my foot down, but it’s difficult. He argues and begs to squeeze a few minutes out of my schedule.

Am I avoiding him, or giving him too little time? Should I drop a few activities to be with him more? And how can I say “no” without being made to feel guilty or suffer for it every time? – Harried Sally

No. 3, easy: Date someone who won’t pressure you.

Nos. 1 and 2 are your call, but I can connect your letter’s dots for you: Yes, you’re avoiding him somewhat (he’s being a pest); and no, you shouldn’t “drop a few activities,” because if you really wanted to you’d be doing it.

Hectoring someone for togetherness is not romantic. It’s needy, cloying, disrespectful. If he’s trying to take you away from everything else you care about – things you choose and work hard toward – then does he really like you? Or just your physical presence? Possessiveness, after all, is an abuse precursor.

It needn’t even be this high-concept. He wants A, you want Z, and he’s not even suggesting you meet at M; he’s pushing you to the point of discomfort toward A. Is that why you have a boyfriend – to argue? To be continually challenged or negated?

Walk away from any insisting/arguing/begging/ guilt-tripping. You: “I can see you Friday, no sooner.” He: (Pressure.) You: “I like you. I have things to do. I won’t go eight rounds on this.” He: (Pressure.) You: “I’m going to hang up now.” Then do. Enforcement is the linchpin.


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