DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I'm having a dilemma with one of my friends. She's been dating this guy for almost a year. At first they lived in the same city, but in the last six months they've been doing the long distance thing (across provinces) and usually visit each other once a month. When she comes to town, I like to spend some quality time with her -- my friend since childhood. However, since they've been together, she's been bringing her boyfriend around, every time we hang out. I understand their need to spend as much time together as possible, so in one regard I respect her decision to bring him around. But, he's going through some emotional difficulties, and to others he can be rude, awkward, lethargic and a big killjoy. All I'd like is to spend one evening or two with just her as girlfriends, however, because of his emotional neediness, she is never available for one-on-one time. Am I being selfish by wanting my friend back, even just for a couple of hours, or should I accept the fact that her boyfriend is now a staple at girls night? -- Third Wheel, Transcona
Dear Third Wheel: What you don't see is it's not him causing the problem. Nine out of 10 women would say, "I'm going out for a few hours with my female buddies and I'll catch you later." If he whined, she'd say, "You're going to have to get over this clingy-ness, or you'll have to get over me. I love my friends too." The truth? She is kowtowing to this needy behaviour, partly because she wants to be with him every minute of the visit! Tell her how you feel and ask clearly for a lunch without him. If she doesn't want to do that, retire her to the back bench for now and invest more in other pals.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I'm a Christian going out with an atheist, so after we make love on Saturday night, I send him home in the cold, saying I have to work in the morning and then I sneak off to church alone instead. He preaches "religion is a crutch" and all that rot. Last night we got talking seriously about getting married and he said, "Of course, I wouldn't want to go into a church for something like a wedding when I never go any other time. My heart sank. I had always pictured a lovely formal wedding in my home church with my family and friends. I see me coming down the aisle and my groom waiting at the altar. I started to cry! He asked me why and I wouldn't say. What now? -- Secret Christian, Winnipeg
Dear Secret: It's time to really talk this out. Tell him you go to church secretly and you know he has no belief. Tell him you would want to be married in a church. Let him know if you want your kids christened and/or baptized. Then quietly hear him out. While you're at it, ask him how many kids he'd like to have, if any, and when he'd want them. You'd be amazed how many couples don't ever discuss this until they're already married. Talk about the finances, too. This is the time, not after. Do either of you have debt and how much? How do you feel about seeing each other's parents, brothers and sisters? Where would you both like to live -- city or country? It's good the whole religion thing is going to come up so you can get everything else out on the table. You're talking about a lifetime of serious commitment now.
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