Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: I am about to start my sophomore year of college. During my freshman year I met a guy and fell in love with him. He is a really great guy but he was weird about our relationship: He refused to call us boyfriend-girlfriend even though we spent all our time together, slept together, and he told me he loved me. Then at the end of the school year he told me he didn’t want to see me over the summer and has barely acknowledged me when I’ve called or texted him the last three months.
How am I supposed to act around him when I see him at school, and is there any hope he will be my boyfriend?
Carolyn says: It’s not hope that concerns me; it’s the desire. To be his girlfriend now on the same terms, given what the summer has revealed about those terms, would cost you more in self-worth than any relationship is worth.
So please, when you see him again, be warm but disengaged. If he makes any moves toward resuming where you left off, please tell him no, thanks.
I am assuming, of course, that true intimacy is what you want. It’s not the terms of a relationship that make it OK; it’s the mutual acceptance of those terms. What you describe here is not mutual; it’s his withholding and your wondering why. It’s your wanting him, his shooing you off, and your wanting him again. It sounds to me as if wanting him is your priority, when that only works as half of one. The other half has to be that he wants you, too — “he” being any object of your affection — or else you’re on unhealthy, self-negating ground.
Dear Carolyn: So bride and groom both grew up and went to undergrad and grad school in the Boston area and are having a destination wedding at a five-star boutique hotel ($800-plus a night) in Napa Valley. Neither the groom nor bride has a connection to Northern California.
Between cross-country flights, rent-a-cars, and a bed-and-breakfast (no chain hotels in the immediate vicinity), I see this as a $2,000 trip, easily.
(1) I understand the destination-wedding trend, but am I right to view these circumstances as a bit obnoxious?
(2) I am leaning toward not attending for financial reasons (plus I barely drink wine!), but what is a way I can gracefully decline other than attend the Boston gathering?
Carolyn says: “I understand the destination-wedding trend” — OK so far — “but am I right to view these circumstances as a bit obnoxious?”
Nope, too far, back up to where you understand, period. Can’t afford it? Logistics too complicated? Send your polite regrets. Judging is how we bask in our own stellar manners and taste, and therefore it reveals our poor manners and taste. Best just not to go there literally or figuratively.
Etiquette, by the way, has provided the way to decline gracefully: “I regret that I am unable to attend.” Make it a handwritten note that includes your best wishes for the couple, and you’ll be a rock star of grace. (Is that an oxymoron?)
E-mail Carolyn Hax at firstname.lastname@example.org.