Q: My girlfriend is kind, generous and sweet – someone who is truly beautiful, inside and out. I want nothing more than for this relationship to succeed, but at the end of the day, I have more fun spending time with my friends, and it's hard for me to make her a priority over them. Since I'm in my late 20s, I'm not sure if this is a result of me simply not growing up, or if our relationship doesn't have the spark that makes me consistently excited to see her. hShe's my first long-term relationship. How do you know if the "lust" phase has ended or if the relationship has just fizzled?
— A.D., Amherst
A: Part of what it means to be in a relationship is to want to spend time together. Not every second of course, but to have quality time together in a rhythm that makes sense for the two of you. If you don't honestly want to have that, it sounds like you should be thinking about why that is. If the reasons are not fleeting in nature, you should think about making a change.
To be honest, it sounds like you have already figured it out: "I have more fun spending time with my friends, and it's hard for me to make her a priority over them." That's not to say that you shouldn't spend time with your friends, because you should, but when you start dreading hanging out with your girlfriend, you might already be emotionally or mentally checked out of the relationship. Do you think about anyone else? Sexually or emotionally? After only a year, you should still get excited to see your girlfriend, have fun with her, and generally enjoy being around her. And the sexual passion should be everlasting if she is the right one.
> Too weird for words
Q: I have been friends with my boyfriend for nine years, and only recently I found out that he had been in love with me almost from the beginning. When I say "in love," I mean crazy stalker obsession, taking pictures of me (not naked or inappropriate) without my knowledge, even so far as taking a picture of me and having it put on a pillow case. I am in love with him, but last night he confessed that he "fiddles" with me sexually while I'm sleeping. I trust him when he says he has never done anything that I wouldn't allow him to do while I was awake, but it makes me uncomfortable. He is not a bad person; he is actually the sweetest person you could ever meet. How weird is this?
— M.N., North Buffalo
A: It is extremely run-for-the-hills weird. It is NOT OK that he touches you sexually while you're sleeping. Sexually fondling an unresponsive person is not sweet or cute; it is intrusive, creepy and illegal. To be frank, his current behavior, as well as his behavior prior to your relationship, is unhealthy and disturbing. He is obsessed with you, and you need to consider the real possibility that he sees you as an object rather than a person.
But if you are intent on staying with, in your words, a "crazy stalker," you need to set clear boundaries. Tell him you think his behavior is weird and that you want him to stop. Just keep in mind that he's doing this while you're unconscious, and you may never know if he actually has stopped. Can you live with this? Don't just take my word for it; seek counseling immediately.
Patti Novak owns Buffalo Niagara Introductions (www.buffaloniagaraintro.com). Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your initials and hometown.