Dear Abby: I am 32 and need advice about setting personal boundaries in my relationships. Simply put, I have a guy friend who has feelings for me that I don’t have for him. We dated briefly. I broke it off, and we have continued as friends for two years.
He knows I’m not interested in an intimate relationship with him, but he has made it clear through words and behavior that he’s in love with me, almost to the point of obsession.
I feel that he doesn’t respect my personal space. We argue – especially if he ends up crashing at my house after a night at the pub. I firmly tell him that he can only sleep on my couch, but he’ll weasel his way into my bed. I feel I’m enabling him in his clingy behavior because I don’t want to hurt his feelings. Please advise me on what to do.
– Pushover in British Columbia
Dear Pushover: The man you describe appears to be under the impression that he can wear you down if he keeps at it long enough. He isn’t interested in being your “friend”; he wants to be your lover.
Because you aren’t interested in him that way, quit allowing him to sleep at your place. If he becomes drunk and can’t drive himself home, get him a taxi. Allowing him to sleep over and weasel himself into your bed sends him a mixed message, and that’s a mistake.
To create effective boundaries, you must be clear about the messages you send to others. What you appear to need to work on is the ability to say no. Try it; you’ll like it.
Even at 40, still ‘Daddy’s Girl’
Dear Abby: I’m having a hard time with my dad. He treats me like a little kid and refuses to recognize that I’m an adult who can make my own decisions. It makes it difficult for us to get along, and I have been spending less time with him because of it.
I’m 40, and I haven’t lived at home for more than 20 years. I’m married, have children and hold a responsible job, but he still sees me as a little girl. An example: He will tell me how to do everyday tasks and remind me not to touch the stove or leave the lights on. In his mind, I never grew up.
Dad is in his late 60s, and I’d really like to have a relationship with him while he’s still healthy. Is there anything I can do to make him understand that his perspective needs to change?
– Daddy’s Girl
Dear Daddy’s Girl: At his age, you aren’t going to change your father. Your chances of improving your relationship with him will be better if you change the way you react to what he’s doing and realize he says the things he does because it’s part of what he thinks is a parent’s job. Once you see the humor in it, you’ll stop feeling defensive and resenting him. It will go a long way toward your having the adult relationship with him that you crave.