Mrs Springer

31 January 2008

Mrs Springer answers your relationship questions. If you have a problem that needs sorting, please send your letters to mrs-springer@tcs.cam.ac.uk. Mrs Springer will keep your identity confidential.

My new girlfriend takes up all my time and I’m missing out on stuff with my friends. I don’t want us to break up, but the way it’s going, I can’t help getting annoyed.

– Feeling Suffocated

Dear Feeling Suffocated,

Two things are needed here: communication and tact. You have to tell your girlfriend how you feel, or you’ll start to resent her, and that can only lead to your relationship ending. For all you know, she feels the same way but is equally reluctant to tell you in case she hurts your feelings. The only way to find out is to talk to her.

The beginning of a relationship is stressful because you’re both still sussing each other out, but if you don’t get into the habit of communicating now, you never will. The bitterness you’re feeling at the moment will just grow if you don’t talk to her. However, this is quite a tricky thing to bring up, so it’s best to be diplomatic. Tell her that, whilst you’re enjoying spending so much time with her, your friends feel like you’re ignoring them and putting her before them. This puts the impetus for the conversation on your friends rather than on you, and also—very diplomatically—makes it sound like you wish you could spend all your time with her but, unfortunately, have to consider your friends too. Not only will she understand, but she’ll also admire your consideration towards your friends and like you even more!

I don’t believe in sex before marriage, which my long-term boyfriend knows. But he keeps dropping hints about sex and I think that, whilst he’d never say it outright, he’s beginning to resent our situation. I don’t want to lose him, but neither do I want to compromise my principles.

– Saving Myself

Dear Saving Myself,

Nice as your boyfriend might be, if he doesn’t have similar views to you, he’s going to find them hard to understand—and it sounds like he already does. If he continually mentions sex, he is probably feeling as though he’s missing out and is hoping you’ll change your mind. But he isn’t being respectful of your wishes by dropping these hints; instead, he’s almost guilting you into sex.

You seem to have very clear views on sex before marriage, so sleeping with him is only going to make you resent him for pushing you. The only thing you can do is tell him that you’ve noticed him talking more about sex and that your viewpoint is still the same as it ever was. Be very clear on that because at least then he will know where he stands, and you can both decide where to go from there. As long as you are honest with each other, you will both be on the same wavelength, which means no more guessing games, no more hint-dropping, and no more worrying.