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What Gives Here?

Dear Miss SmartyPants,

Am I wrong?: Everyone around me seems to think my boyfriend (who I live with and talk about marriage with) is not for me. My best friend, mother, aunt, people I work with. Sometimes I see their points, but other times I feel that I am happy. Could they all be right and I am just in a cloud? And how do I deal with the constant negativity I have to hear about him from these people? Thanks.

What Gives Here?

Dear What Gives,

No one should have to deal with constant negativity. Ask these everyones please to figure out specifically what their objections are, weed out shallow stuff (e.g., he's ugly) until they're left with only objections of substance (e.g., he's too critical of you) that they can support with examples or facts (e.g., he harps on your weight), present these factually supported objections, and then respect you enough to drop it.

For your part, you need to listen to what they say. Really listen. Sometimes the natural inclination in a situation like this is to deny what you're hearing from people who love you, and defend the boyfriend (or girlfriend). While you're thinking about it, try to suppress that urge to defend and just listen.

When one person harps, it's one person. When everyone harps, it's cause for serious thought. Do their objections have substance? What do you mean when you say you "feel that I am happy"? What's your definition? Do you trust your judgment on this, or do you have incentive to rationalize?

OK, now let's look at this from an entirely different angle, just to explore another possibility. Could it be that your friends and family are negative about your significant other because of how you talk about the relationship? Maybe this doesn't apply to you, but take a moment or five to consider it.

I have an acquaintance who constantly complains about her husband. So everyone thinks he is wrong for her, and she knows it. But then she complains that everyone doesn't like her husband. What is THAT? Some people have a Poor Me mentality which they use to get attention.

How you portray the relationship to friends and family has an ENORMOUS impact on how they perceive it. So simple, yet so hard to see.

I am not accusing you of doing that. But if it dawns on you that this might be the problem, you can fix it by concentrating in your own mind on the good things about your relationship. Then your conversations with others will not mislead them into buying into negativity.

While we're on the subject, here's a general tip for anyone who tends to be a complainer: Constant complaints do not make good conversation. In fact, it can be very tiresome for your listeners, and they will not be thrilled to see you coming. Unless you're really funny.

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