Dear Alice,

I am in a relationship with a fellow student who likes to visit only late at night, and doesn't include me with other friends. When we do things, it is always the two of us alone, or with my friends. I don't particularly like the situation and have tried to ask for some changes, but it feels as if I am fighting an uphill battle. I'm not sure what to do.

—Feeling helpless

Dear Feeling helpless,

While not a blood sucking vampire, it sounds as though your late night visitor is leaving you a little drained. A good starting point might be to figure out what you want from the relationship.

You mention that you have tried to ask for changes. Does it make sense to do a little self-reflection first? What do you want from this relationship? What is keeping you in this particular relationship? Are looking for more than your current relationship? What are the pros and cons to staying in or ending this relationship? Taking some time to examine your own motivation, feelings, and expectations may help you determine what you want.

Once you know what you want, it may be a good idea to think about how to talk about this. How do the two of you communicate now? Could you practice what you want to say ahead of time? When the two of you talk, have you asked directly what your friend does with her/his other friends? Have you asked directly whether or not you can join them? If yes, what has been the response? It may not be realistic for you both to be together all the time, but it sounds like you would appreciate it if the effort to integrate each other into your lives were more mutual.

With every relationship comes the give-and-take communication and the discussion of when and how to compromise. The reality may be that s/he may be only interested in spending time with you, but not in bringing you into her/his life. S/he may not be ready for or interested in attaining that level of vulnerability and intimacy. If this is the case, you may want to assess whether this is something you both would like to strive for in the future and in what time frame. If your partner is not interested, or if her/his behavior does not change, then that may be a message, too, as actions often speak louder than words.

It's up to you to decide whether or not you want to pursue the relationship at the level that it's at now. Remember, you may have to be the one to take the initiative and you are definitely the only one who knows what will make you happy and fulfilled. Change is an ongoing process, good luck with yours!


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