Thursday, December 5, 2013

Real Talk With Rachel: She Could Do Better!

by Rachel Kurzius

Dear Rachel,

I am in my late twenties and I live with two friends from graduate school. We all get along well, but I’ve been having an issue with my roommate Gina’s boyfriend, Johnny. First of all, he doesn’t seem to care about her very much. They’ve been dating since our last year of grad school (three years ago) but he still seems very noncommittal. When he comes to visit the apartment, he is not very friendly to me or our other roommate. Johnny is very successful and is always working, but comes to the apartment once a week. From interactions with him and talking to Gina about him, he sounds like he’s very selfish. She makes a lot of sacrifices to be with him and is always thinking about him and what he wants, but it seems like he doesn’t really consider her perspective.  How can I help her see that she should cut him loose? Gina deserves so much better!

Meddling for the Best

Dear Meddling for the Best,

Imagine Gina right now after three years of commitment to Johnny. Maybe she feels some of the doubts you outline -- he’s selfish, he’s not friendly, he doesn’t make time for her. But there must be something about Johnny that keeps her with him, even if he seems like a dirty dishrag to you.

As her friend, you want to make sure Gina knows your concerns -- and that's understandable. But you must tread incredibly lightly when it comes to airing your grievances. Being in a relationship means elevating another person, designating him as more important than other obligations or relationships. An attack on Johnny, no matter how narrow, quickly falls on Gina as well.

Even if you only aim to point out issues you take with her boyfriend, your friend will probably get defensive. After all, you’re impugning a defining decision of her life over these past three years. To avoid that, which will turn into a fight between the two of you rather than an opportunity to probe whether she actually wants to keep this guy around, you need to let her do the talking.

In the moments where she talks to you about the relationship, ask questions. Ask how it makes her feel when he acts selfishly, what she expects from a relationship. Or, when the two of you are chatting, mention attributes of relationships you admire. See if she shares the same values as you when it comes to a relationship.

That’s the funny thing about boyfriends and girlfriends. We’re all looking for different things in each other, which goes a long way towards explaining the craziness of dating. It’s a shame that you and Johnny don’t connect, but if it doesn’t bother Gina then it’s not an issue for their relationship. It’s an issue for your and Gina’s friendship.

All best,



Rachel Kurzius revels in giving advice, and has provided counsel both as a columnist and a friend. She lives in Washington DC, where she works as a news producer. Real Talk with Rachel is published on All Life is Local and the Cleveland Park Listserv,, on Wednesdays. Need advice? You can write to Rachel via

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