Be the change

Joey Garcia

My boyfriend hardly tells me anything about what he does when we’re not together. I wonder if I can trust him and whether I should continue the relationship. I thought that after we were together he might open up, but it’s been over three months. I’ve tried talking to him about this, but nothing changes.

Here’s one of the most important things I’ve learned about intimate relationships: If the man you’re dating never changes, do you still want to be with him? If yes, he doesn’t need to change. You do. Release your expectations around a partner’s responsibility to communicate with you. Accept him as he is. Or invite him to be your friend, because he’s not capable of meeting you in the kind of relationship you desire.

Sometimes we push a partner to change without realizing that not everyone is committed to personal development. We push because we’re stuck in stories that say love is magic. We tell ourselves that if we just love someone enough, he or she will shed the beastly behavior that causes discord and become our ideal match. In real life, though, transformation is hard work. So be the change you want to see. Trying to get your man out of his comfort zone is hopeless.

My sister’s new boyfriend convinced her not to celebrate Christmas anymore. I’m trying not to hate this guy but he’s ruining my holiday. I sent him an unfortunate text that I can’t undo but I’m so hurt that my sister would abandon her family for a guy. I don’t know what to say to her.

If you believe in the spirit of Christmas, stop escalating this drama. Your sister’s change in plans is ruining your holiday? Your sister is abandoning her family? Wow, you give your sister a lot of power over your happiness. Why?

I understand that you want to create a special holiday experience for everyone you love. But shouldn’t their desires figure into your plans? Please tell your sister you are disappointed but you understand she has other plans. Tell her you love her and will miss her. Then, make a date with her to do something fun. Find things to appreciate about her boyfriend and discipline yourself not to criticize him. Your sister is an adult and gets to choose how she spends her days. Accepting that may be one of the greatest gifts you give her.

My boyfriend and I finally had sex. He was so uptight it was like he was reading a manual on how to have sex while having sex. I like him so much but practically recoil when he touches me now. What should I do?

Realize that his anxiety about pleasing you sexually interfered with his ability to please you sexually. That might be a one-time problem or he may never be very comfortable between the sheets (or on the kitchen table or whatever). By focusing on getting it right your man never connected with you emotionally. There are all kinds of sexual tricks and tantric practices I can suggest but that would be premature. What he needs is reassurance about what he’s doing right. You need to be open to trying again. Let the next experience be playful. Focus on the pleasure of discovering what pleasures your partner. Think: Progress, not perfection.

Meditation of the week
“It isn’t possible to love and part. You will wish that it was. You can transmute love, ignore it, muddle it, but you can never pull it out of you. … Love is eternal,” wrote E. M. Forster. How does the legacy of love live on in you?

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