My girlfriend recently moved in with me. We’re doing pretty well together but one small thing is starting to annoy me.
She has a habit of constantly sniffling and it’s grating on my nerves. I’ve tried asking politely if she’d like a tissue, I’ve also tried the famous dog trainer Cesar Millan’s method of pinching her every time she sniffles.
So far I’ve only been successful at annoying her.
How do I say that her constant sniffling is driving me insane, without her feeling attacked?
No GF Whisperer
Tip #1 on living together: Realize that an annoying habit may have a logical cause.
Tip #2: Show you care about why she’s sniffling rather than only say that it’s bothering you.
Likely common causes - dust (which includes clutter), a seasonal allergy, animal allergy (cat, dog), or nasal congestion. Or, a nervous tic (less common but not unlikely if she’s having trouble adjusting to co-habitation).
Depending on where you live, apartments tend to be very dry which causes some nasal reactions; a bedroom humidifier would help.
A house could need the furnace filter changed and/or an added humidifier.
The point is that getting annoyed achieves nothing but returned annoyance and fights, whereas solving a problem together breeds harmony and appreciation.
I’m 27, my boyfriend of almost five years is 31. Last June, he moved to New York for a job and we’ve been in a long-distance relationship ever since.
I visit New York every week or two, to be with him. Throughout this time of being apart, he’s insisted that I come live with him there.
However, I made it clear the day he left that I don’t want to move without a ring.
The day after this past Christmas, we went to a party to catch up with his old friends and learned of two other couples who’d just recently become engaged.
Both couples have been dating for significantly less time than we have.
Hearing this got me so upset that it led to me erupting into a huge yelling outburst after we left the party, about his not proposing.
Now he’s asking for a break from me because he found my behavior erratic that night.
I reminded him that this is a constant issue and he always has an excuse not to propose.
Should I move there for love or put my foot down, and if he doesn't come around, move on?
I love him and I'm devastated.
The Forever Girlfriend
If it’s a ring you want most, give him that break, but it’s highly possible he will move on.
He’s tried to get you to commit to living with him, while you’ve obsessed on the symbols.
Apologize for the outburst and don’t mention “ring” or “wedding” for one month.
If things settle, move to New York. Since you started dating him at 22, it seems you two haven’t openly discussed any concrete plans for the future beyond your personal wish to be engaged.
Moving there (say for a six-month to one-year trial) would give you time to know whether he has a negative feel about marriage in general.
If you love him deeply, it’s worth a try.
At 27, you can take the time to see if he’s really the right person for your lifetime partner.
Also, you’ll be able to assess whether you’re willing to adapt to his preference and just stay together, with a ring or without.
FEEDBACK Regarding the boyfriend's poor hygiene and its smelly affect (Dec.19):
Reader – “It reminded me of some advice I got which I found to be true.
“While another person’s hygiene is an issue in relationships, I think there’s a bigger issue being hidden here.
“It’s that the writer doesn't like her boyfriend's smell. This is an important reaction as it is our body's way of telling us that this person isn't a good match for us.”
Ellie – The theory sounds reasonable IF her main complaint was about his bad breath or body odour.
However, the writer seemed to mostly dislike his lack of understanding that these are expected hygiene practices and also blamed his “broken family” background for his not having been properly directed.
The only “smell” she referenced was related to his not wearing underwear and leaving an odour behind where he sat.
Most people dislike being exposed to other’s toilet-related odours.
Tip of the day:
Moving together reveals habits often best handled together, before they become battlegrounds.