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posted: 8/11/2012 1:08 PM

In this relationship, trust is a bigger issue than moving in together

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Q. My boyfriend of one year has been married three times. He has three teenage children who live with him part-time. He is dependent on his parents for assisting in the support of his children. His income of $100,000, his ex-wife's income and his parents' retirement income all go toward supporting his children and their extracurricular activities.

He has dropped hints that "these times are rough" and openly admits his children are costly. He also has hinted that his ex-wife used to pay half of the household expenses. He says we would both benefit if I moved in.

Shall I be concerned about his motives? Is he looking for a relationship or more financial support? I am in love and want a future with him. My children are grown and on their own.

Sleepless in Sacramento

A. Well, you're concerned enough to write to me, listing several solid reasons to be concerned, so, let's say yes, you shall be concerned about his motives.

But here's what concerns me: You have added up his history, his habits, his finances and his hints, and you've concluded (with a soupcon of contempt for those marriages and extracurriculars?) that your moving in would benefit him, at your expense. Yes?

And so why don't you feel confident enough in your judgment, and fierce enough in your selfhood, to say this to him?

Or, even better: "You seem to have all the commitments you can manage right now. Why don't we talk about this again when your kids are on their own?"

Or, best: "I love you and look forward to a future with you, but I'm not ready to make that big a commitment yet."

You clearly don't trust him entirely, so choose actions that reflect this. Otherwise, any future you have with him won't resemble one that you want.

What can I say to a person I see a few times a year, who bombards me with mass emails, chain letters, warnings, but never a personal note?

I told her I would like just personal emails and not to send me jokes, but she got offended and said she carefully selects who she sends those emails to. I need a polite way to tell her to stop without ruining the friendship. I'd like to keep her as a friend.


A. Which would you rather do, delete the jokes or delete the friendship?

Mass emails + taking offense + ignoring a direct request that's forehead-slappingly simple to execute for the sole purpose of continuing to annoy someone = a friend with a rock-bottom EQ. If there were a way to stop the emails without escalating the drama, then she would have just agreed to stop them (sans drama) the first time you asked.

Or, when she didn't agree, you would have just said, "Then carefully select me off the list, please; I mean no offense, I just don't read forwards."

You routinely walk on eggshells for this friend, no? Why? It's your prerogative, of course everyone has reason-defying friendships here and there, because they provide something tough to explain to others. However, that's also the real problem here: It takes work to stay in her good graces. The question for you now is, how much work are anyone's good graces worth?

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2012 The Washington Post

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