I'm a girl and a freshman in college. My boyfriend and I have been together since we were 14, and when I went to college, he did not. He's a few hours away back in our hometown, working and taking care of his mom, who has PTSD and can't work. I think distance makes the heart grow fonder, but he is very unhappy with me being so far away—it’s too far for day trips—and the ways I've changed.
The main thing is that he's really, REALLY rude to me about my recent decision to become a vegetarian. I've learned a lot this year about health and animal welfare, and being a vegetarian feels great to me. I'm very happy with this decision, but when I go home each weekend he never stops teasing and harassing me. Sometimes he's clearly just trying to be funny—like, he'll suggest Outback Steakhouse for a dinner date—but other times he really challenges me and picks at my resolve. He'll point out that I have incisors, and talk about evolution and stuff like that.
Sometimes when we're eating together and he's having meat, he'll put some of it in my face as if to offer me a bite. I used to laugh that off, but now it's really pissing me off. Last time he did that, I didn't let it go, and we had a pretty serious fight over it. I told him he was acting weird, and I didn't understand why he cared so much about what I ate. He just says it's stupid and pointless, and that I'm fighting nature.
We're back on good terms already, but I can't let his rudeness go. It's really bugging me, and I wanna talk to him about it, but he's such a jerk about this. I love him, but he's being pretty unforgivable right now. I feel like he's trying to control me, and I hate that. How can we go forward from here?
He's definitely trying to control you, and he's definitely a jerk.
I'm proud of you for growing into yourself and figuring out what's important to you—having ideals, living them and sticking to them. This guy is attached to the girl you used to be, not the woman you're becoming. As you continue to age and evolve into your personhood, you'll be less and less like the teenage version of yourself. Your boyfriend never left his hometown—or even his mother's house—and he's stuck there.
You didn't mention any other ways that you've changed, but you imply that he's bothered by more than your vegetarianism. It sounds to me like you two are growing apart. Still, if you think the relationship is worth saving, sit him down and try to have a mature conversation about him respecting your choices and your lifestyle. But if he doesn't take to that conversation, don't ignore it. Right now is a very pivotal time in your life, and you have all the potential in the world. Keep moving forward.
I have a friend who has some mental health issues—he's been hospitalized a few times in his life—and we are very close. We talk on the phone all the time—maybe a little too much! Basically, he calls me every day—sometimes twice a day—just to ramble about this and that, and I know it's a symptom of his bipolar. I have a job and a family, and I can't always take his calls, even when I want to. I feel like his psychiatrist sometimes, and I don't have time for that.
I didn't hear from him for a while, but then I got an email this weekend saying that he lost my number and would like it back, and I never responded. I feel horrible! But I've honestly been loving the peace and the silence. I wanna be there for him, but I need some time to myself. What should I write back to him?
Reluctant Phone Therapist
You should write back to him with contact information for free and reduced-cost counseling in his area. You should tell him that you have responsibilities, and you can't always pick up when he needs you. What he needs is what clinically trained therapists can provide, not you. In Athens, the Samaritan Center (downtown on Lumpkin Street) offers counseling and other therapeutic interventions on a sliding scale, and there are other reduced-cost counseling services dotted all over our great city.
Help him in all the ways you can, like giving him rides to therapy, or even covering the cost if need be. But let him know that you can't provide your ear so much anymore. You have every right to take that space, and you can still support your friend in need.