My boyfriend is 50 years old. He calls his mother every day; they discuss any problems he has. I think it’s sweet. He was married for 15 years to a woman he says ignored him, though he admits to cheating on her with his last girlfriend, with whom he says he was incompatible. We’ve been dating for eight months now and just moved in together. His mother wants to visit and stay with us. But I want this man to view me as a partner, so I’ve asked if she can postpone her visit until we’ve had more time together. He says he can’t refuse her. Would it be rude to help him cut these apron strings?
You can sharpen your scissors all day long, but I doubt that you will snip the tie between this man and his mother (nor should you try). They seem to have a loving relationship based on mutual respect. You won’t supplant that bond quickly, and it’s not reasonable to refuse her visits until you have.
I’m confused by the middle passage of your letter, though, in which you detail your boyfriend’s romantic failures. If you are trying to imply that they are somehow linked to his closeness with his mother, you haven’t been very persuasive. (Tight relationships with parents don’t preclude successful romantic partnerships.) Still, you may have your hands full with this particular boyfriend.
Which brings us back to his mother. She is a big part of his life. He clearly trusts her. And by making a friend of her, you may inspire greater confidence in your boyfriend about you. I’d welcome her into your home. Building solid romantic relationships takes time. No point in icing out other people who love us while we work on them.
Yes, We Know. You’re Gay.
I am a straight dude in college. I have friends who are gay, straight, bi, trans. It’s no problem for me. What is a problem is a good friend who came out as gay last month. Now, he starts every sentence: “As a gay man …” His point usually has nothing to do with sexuality. Today, he was talking about breakfast cereals in the dining hall “as a gay man.” It’s annoying! Can I tell him to quit it?
I was so guilty of this tic when I first came out that I cringed when I read your letter! So, let me mount a small defense of your friend: If you had an issue that you’d spent loads of time thinking about (possibly worrying over or feeling ashamed about) and you finally got it off your chest, you’d probably hit it hard in conversation, too.
That may be what’s going on with your pal. He’s so relieved to be able to say it finally — “I’m gay!” — that he’s overcompensating. Give him a honeymoon for a few months. If he’s still reminding you endlessly about his sexuality after Christmas break, say, “Yeah, we know you’re gay. You’ve told us a million times. But what does that have to do with Cap’n Crunch?”
TLDR; Rent Is Always a Scam
I live in a three-bedroom apartment in a pricey neighborhood. My roommate, who shares the master bedroom with her partner, is the only tenant on the lease. The occupant of the third bedroom and I pay our rent to her rather than the landlord. We don’t know the true cost of the apartment, and she refuses to tell us. (I suspect she is using us to subsidize her rent.) Would it be wrong to insist?
Your curiosity is perfectly reasonable. But having asked how much rent she is paying, and been refused, I’d stop asking. (You can’t subpoena her lease!) Think of it this way: Unless your roommate told you that she is dividing the rent evenly, you are probably subsidizing her share. It’s an upside to holding a lease in a good neighborhood.
Does it matter, though? I assume you’ve done your homework and are paying a reasonable amount for a room in your pricey area. If that’s not the case, or if the prospect of subsidizing the leaseholder is killing you, move! Sometimes, it pays not to think too hard about an arrangement that’s working for everyone.
Splitting Costs in the Time of Points
My brother travels for work, so he racks up hotel points. We are going on vacation together, and he wants to pay for our hotel rooms (using points), and he wants me to pay for the flights. But since he’s not using cash to pay the hotel, I feel like I’m being cheated in paying for his flights. He disagrees. What’s your take?
I think people who can’t agree relatively easily about splitting costs shouldn’t try to. Personally, I would view the hotel as an actual expense I didn’t have to pay, so I would happily cover an equivalent amount for the flights of the person who did. But reasonable people can differ. If his proposal makes you uncomfortable, just say that you’d rather take care of your own travel arrangements. Petty squabble averted!
For help with your awkward situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com, to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.
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