Have a question about your relationship, but not sure who to ask?

Not sure if something that your boyfriend or girlfriend is doing is normal/healthy/safe, but can’t seem to get an unbiased opinion?

Write in to our Ask An Advocate column using the form below. You may post anonymously or as yourself; either way we’ll change all identifying information when we post your question and our response.

Want a more private interaction?  Just let us know in the message box and we’ll offer a confidential response to the email you provide. Our goal is to help you gain some clarity over what’s going on between you and your partner.   -IHTeens


MY BEST FRIEND’S NEW GIRLFRIEND DOESN’T LIKE ME, SHOULD HE HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN US?

Dear IHTeens,

My best friend (who’s a guy) is dating this girl, and I feel like she’s going to end up making him choose between being friends with me and being with her. He means a lot to me, and I don’t want him to have to make that kind of decision. Should I stop being friends with him, and “make the choice” for him? I don’t care if I suffer from not being around him anymore, I just want him be happy. I don’t know when his girlfriend might turn things that way, but I have a strong feeling she will soon. What should I do?

-Ari

 

Hi Ari,

Thanks for your message.  It sounds like you are very loyal to your friends and that is a wonderful thing.  If this is the beginning of their relationship, it can seem like your friend might not be giving the time he used to give to other friendships and interests outside of his relationship.  This is typical of a new relationship.  It can be normal for a new couple to only have eyes and thoughts for each other.  It’s hard to experience the change that a friend’s new relationship might cause initially.  In most cases, giving a friend in a new relationship time and space to get settled in their relationship is a great way to show your friend that you value and respect what makes him happy.  In a bit of time, he will learn how to balance the relationship with his other friendships and hobbies.  The honeymoon phase of dating can feel a bit unbalanced to the couples friends and family members.  In a healthy relationship, the balance will return.

It sounds like you are worried that his girlfriend might push him into restricting his friendship with you.  Sometimes, there can be some insecurity in a new relationship.  A great way to help his girlfriend if she does feel insecure about your platonic relationship with her boyfriend, is to reach out to her in friendship.  That way, you can keep your friendship with your friend strong, and maybe make a great new friendship in the process.

I hope these thoughts are helpful to you.  If you see anything that makes you concerned for your friend’s safety, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us again.

-IHTeen Counselor

 


MY BOYFRIEND TOLD ME I CAN’T TALK TO OR HANG OUT WITH ANY OF MY MALE FRIENDS…IS THAT OKAY?

Dear IHTeens,

My boyfriend told me I can’t talk to or hang out with any of my guy friends…is that okay? 

 -Meredith

 

Hi Meredith,

Sadly, this comes up a lot when people enter into a relationship with someone new.  I don’t know how long you and your boyfriend have been dating, but I’m guessing that the guys that he doesn’t want you hanging out with have been around longer than he has.

It’s really important to be able to have friends of both genders.  These guys may not necessarily be your “best friends,” but if they’re an important part of your circle they deserve to be there, regardless of what your boyfriend thinks.  If he respects and cares about you, (and most importantly, TRUSTS you), he should be able to understand why you still want these guys in your life.  If he’s worried that spending time with other guys means you’re going to cheat on him, it should probably be discussed to figure out where that concern is coming from.  There’s no reason anyone should assume that about you, especially if you’ve been loyal in your relationship from the beginning.

I’ve seen this argument cause breakups before, and I think part of the (future) solution is knowing to address this before things get serious with your boyfriend the next time around.  Explaining early on that you have male friends that are important to you helps lay the foundation for what you value and need in your life, and that you also need a partner who respects this about you.  Perhaps having your boyfriend and your guy friends hang out with you together will help put him at ease.  They might even become his friends too!  But if it doesn’t, it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether cutting ties with your male friends is worth the relationship you’re in.

IH Teen Counselor

 


 

WHAT CAN I DO TO STOP MY PARENTS FROM FIGHTING ALL THE TIME?

Dear IHTeens,

My parents fight all the time and they’re always on edge.  My mom cries a lot in her when she thinks I’m asleep and can’t hear her.  I don’t like being at home at night when my Dad comes home late and they start fighting 10 minutes after he walks in the door.  My parents have never hurt me or my brother, but it’s just so hard being at home most nights.  Do you have any advice about what I should do?

-Kellyanne

 

Hi Kellyanne,

First of all, let me say that I’m sorry that your parents aren’t getting along, and that you and your brother have to listen to it a lot.  It’s really hard living in a house where people are arguing, and probably puts you two on edge, too.  It’s possible that your parents don’t realize how much of the fighting you’re actually listening to, and might be worth going to one of them to talk about your concerns.

I would suggest going to the parent that you feel most comfortable with, and letting them know that you hear the fighting, and that it’s stressing you out, scaring you, etc.  Telling one of them might give them some incentive to do something about it.  It’s not your job to make your parents stop arguing.  It’s their job as adults to work together to do what’s best for themselves, you, and the entire family.

Letting your Mom know that you’re worried about her or that you notice she cries a lot might encourage her to think about about what’s really going on at home with your Dad.  Maybe she’d consider reaching out to get some help for herself.  This might be in the form of couples counseling, or Mom receiving individual counseling for herself at an agency like us.  We have counselors who could meet with your Mom to talk about the fighting and verbal assault happening at home, and also meet with you and your brother, if you two wanted to come in and vent/share/figure out what’s been going on with your parents.

If this strategy doesn’t work, I would suggest going to an adult you trust at school (like a teacher or adjustment counselor) and sharing your story with them.  Sometimes having another adult to speak on your behalf can help you and your family get the help they need. I hope your family is able to work through this, and that the fighting stops sooner rather than later.

IH Teen Counselor

 


 

MY BOYFRIEND MADE ME GIVE HIM THE PASSWORDS TO EVERYTHING; FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, MY EMAIL, EVERYTHING. HE SAID IT SHOWS I TRUST HIM… IS THAT NORMAL?

Dear IHTeens,

 My boyfriend made me give him the passwords to everything; my phone, Instagram, facebook, my email, everything. He said it shows I trust him… is that normal?

                -Ashley

 

Hi Ashley,

Unfortunately, this is more normal than you think.  The real question is…is this acceptable in a relationship?  The answer depends on a few different factors.

If you two have established this level of trust, where you are sharing this information for reasons other than to check up on each other or spy on each other’s conversations, pictures, etc, then there’s no reason I or anyone else should tell you not to do it.  However, if your boyfriend is asking for this information and you don’t feel comfortable giving it to him, or if you think he wants your passwords because he doesn’t trust you or is looking to somehow use information he finds against you, then I would say this isn’t acceptable behavior and is not typical in all relationships.

If this is something you’re uncomfortable with, please know that you have a right to privacy in EVERY relationship you engage in.  It does not mean that you don’t love or trust your boyfriend if you don’t want to give him access to all of your electronic information.  If he doesn’t respect your request to keep these passwords to yourself, then he may not have the right intentions at heart and may want to have access to these sites as a way of controlling or manipulating you.  No romantic relationship should put you in a position where you feel uncomfortable or coerced into doing something you don’t want to do.  Privacy is a key part of being in friendships, familial relationships, and even successful romantic relationships.  There are plenty of other ways to show your boyfriend you trust him than by giving him your passwords.  I hope you two can find a way to validate your relationship that you are both comfortable with.

IH Teen Counselor

 


 

MY BOYFRIEND RECORDED US HAVING SEX WITHOUT MY KNOWLEDGE OR CONSENT, WHAT DO I DO?

Dear IHTeens,

My boyfriend recorded us having sex without me knowing, and now he says he’ll show everyone if I ever break up with him.  What do I do?  What can I do??  Please help.

                                   -Kyla

Dear Kyla,

I am so sorry to hear that this has happened to you.  I’ve heard about this happening to several of my female clients, and it can make you feel very helpless, and like you’re at the mercy of the person who has the video.  There are several options that you can consider, and depending on how you’re feeling about your boyfriend and your relationship at this moment, these suggestions may or may not apply to you.   Some suggestions for how to proceed next are:

know the current Massachusetts laws about non-consensual pornography. Currently, anyone who takes pictures or video of you naked or engaging in sexual activity without your consent can be charged with creating child pornography (if you are under the age of 18).  Passing this material on to other people, like your classmates, would be considered disseminating child pornography; also a crime.  If punished to the full extent of the law, your boyfriend could be forced to register as a sex offender for several years for this behavior.   Massachusetts is currently working to create and pass a law regarding this very issue you’ve experienced, realizing that this is happening to people more and more frequently.

talk to your boyfriend. Explain to him that this is illegal, and that if you ever told someone that he had these videos or he shared them with others, he could face charges from law enforcement.  It might be worth exploring why he feels the need to extort you this way; a respectful, healthy relationship would not usually entail someone recording you without your knowledge.  Encourage him to delete video, and see if he’ll respect your request.  For your sake, I hope he does.

tell your school adjustment counselor, resource officer, nurse, or social worker.   Telling a trusted adult is one way to advocate for yourself at school, where this video could have the most damaging consequences.  Odds are, this is not the first time the school has heard of this happening, and they may be able to help inform you about what’s going to happen next.  Also, if you’re concerned about telling your parents, telling another adult might make the process easier, so you can tell them together or they can prepare your parents for what’s happened and take the pressure off of you.

tell your parents. This might be the absolute LAST thing you want to do, but telling your parents enables them to have a conversation with you and get you the help you need.  If you’re worried about their reaction, talk to another adult you trust so that they can support you or be with you when you decide to tell your parents.  Sometimes, an older sibling or cousin can be a great advocate and helper in these kinds of situations.

talk to the police.  The police deal with situations like this a lot.  It’s not comfortable and is probably going to have an impact on your relationship with your boyfriend, but if you’re worried about this video getting out and he’s threatening to use it against you, the police are the ones that have the most power to stop him.

If you need more advice or none of these suggestions work for you, feel free to call our hotline anytime, and a trained counselor can give you additional suggestions.  I hope that this gets resolved Kyla.  Good luck.

IH Teen Counselor