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Q. My best friend seems to take great pride in embarrassing me in front of my boyfriend. It's not like I don't want him to know certain things about me, but the relationship is fairly new and I don't want to scare him off with embarrassing stories.

I've tried reasoning with her, but she says “he needs to know these things sooner or later.” I don't want to lose her as a friend, but I also value this new relationship enough to want to share things about myself at my own pace.

– R.L., Buffalo

A. For now, I would advise you to keep the two relationships separate. When she asks why, reiterate your concerns and let her know that by not honoring them, she's being hurtful and disrespectful. If she again says that your boyfriend “needs to know these things,” tell her it's not up to her. It's your life, your relationship, and your decision. You need to be firm with her and set some clear boundaries. It's very possible that she's jealous or afraid of losing you, but that's no excuse for her behavior.

Tell her one last time that you don't want to lose a good friendship, and so she needs to stop being hurtful and controlling, as good friends don't do this to each other. You teach people how to treat you by not putting up with poor behavior. If she agrees to stop with the stories, and then you're in a situation where she embarrasses you again, remove yourself and your boyfriend from the situation; it will show her how serious you really are. At the end of the day, if you're afraid of losing a friend over expressing your needs, it was never a strong friendship to begin with.

Mixed signals

Q. I was dating a wonderful, respectable man for about a month. We are both in our mid-30s and we enjoyed each other's company. He admitted to being very shy, insecure and inexperienced and expressed his concern about trying to make me happy and worrying that I would get bored with him or that he wouldn't be able to please me. After several dates, things got romantic, but he became nervous, embarrassed and ashamed. I was totally understanding and let him know that there was no pressure to please me and that everything was OK.

He called today and broke up with me. He was unable to cite any particular reason for his feelings, and said it was him and not me.

Am I right in assuming that his insecurity is leading him to believe that he can't please me? What can I do? He is such a good man, and I don't want to lose him so easily, especially if it's because of a misunderstanding.

– A.S., Niagara Falls

A. It's alarming to me that you've gone above and beyond to assure him that he doesn't need to worry about pleasing you. Why shouldn't he worry about pleasing you? A relationship is a two-way street, and it sounds like his issues go beyond being insecure, and he probably needs counseling. You sound lovely, and although he may seem wonderful, how can you be sure after only one month? I think you'd be depriving yourself by trying to be with him right now. You shouldn't need to convince someone to be with you. Instead, focus on finding the one who will know he can't live without you.

Patti Novak welcomes your relationship questions. Email her at www.pattinovak.com. Please include your initials and hometown.