My boyfriend comes from a wealthy family. Every year, his parents take him and his siblings on an extravagant vacation. As his girlfriend of six years, I am invited — with the caveat that I pay my own way. But my boyfriend and I are graduate students, so that’s unrealistic. I can’t even afford to split the costs with my boyfriend, which he’s offered to do. These are long trips that are booked in advance (like cruises and tours), so he can’t leave early, and they use up most of his vacation time. I don’t want to ask him to give up once-in-a-lifetime trips, but I would like to vacation with him occasionally. Any thoughts?
You seem to have painted yourself into a corner: You can’t afford the lavish trips, your boyfriend’s parents won’t pay your way and you don’t want to ask your boyfriend to miss one. Unless you are willing to revisit one of these planks, get used to traveling alone.
Personally, I think it’s reasonable to ask your boyfriend of six years to give up one ski vacation in Gstaad with his family to stay with you at a cozy cabin in the Catskills. In truth, it seems sort of crummy that he hasn’t suggested this himself. (Or maybe he has, and you didn’t want to interfere with his family plans.)
Here’s the thing: In many relationships, from romance to the workplace, we don’t get what we want until we ask for it. So ask! If your boyfriend is unwilling to miss even one family vacation to travel with you, he is telling you something (not great) about your relationship. Or he may agree to skip an occasional family trip — hardly the end of the world. This may even prompt his wealthy parents to cover your costs.
That Phone Makes Calls Too, You Know
I have had a dear friend since high school, for 40 years. She doesn’t live nearby, so we’ve kept in touch by text for the last 15 years. A few years ago, we had a little text argument, and at a certain point, I suspected her husband of texting for her. I let it go. Recently, we were planning a visit. The plans went out the window, and, again, her texts seemed to be written by someone else. I asked her to call me, but she didn’t. I’ve probably listened to too many true crime podcasts, but I’m worried her husband may have harmed her and is texting from her phone. Is it bananas to ask the police to do a wellness check on her?
So, you would rather contact the police than make a single voice call to your friend? (True, she didn’t call you as requested, but you don’t seem to have called her either.) Weirdly, this new dread of voice calling is not uncommon. I get that digital messaging is smoother than messy talk with real people, but calling the police on a baseless hunch, without even trying to phone your friend first, seems sad.
Call her! Ask about the odd texts. The police can’t tell you if your friend hands off the phone to her husband when things get tense with you. Wait on the wellness check until you’ve made a sincere effort to reach her by phone. Here’s hoping the police won’t be necessary.
Your Front Burner, Her Back
I have a young relative — a mother of two children under 7. I offered to fund college savings plans for the children and provided contact information to a trusted firm. I offered to help set up the accounts or set them up myself. Two months later, she’s been “too busy” to open them. It takes 15 minutes! Why is she uninterested in something of real value to her kids?
GRAY AND GUESSING
Generous offer! Like you, I would have set up the accounts lickety-split. And do you know why that is? Because neither of us has two little kids who were on summer vacation. In the face of their immediate demands — “Now, Mommy!” — a future benefit may have taken a back seat.
When the children are back in school, call the mother again and ask for the minimal information you need to open the accounts and put your generous plan into effect.
The Standard Reply to a Poodle Complaint?
We took care of a friend’s poodle over a long weekend. Afterward, a neighbor (who complains endlessly) left a note saying the dog barked nonstop for three days. She wrote: “Make it stop!” But we were there the whole time, except for a few hours during dinners. We’re sorry if the dog barked while we were away, but it was quiet while we were at home. I object to her aggressive tone. Should I drop this or send a sharp reply?
You had me at poodle! You also know better than I do how much you like to have the last word. In my view, you made the barking stop: The dog is gone. And the exaggerated complaint would probably stop me from responding. Still, even a few hours of continuous barking can be really annoying. If you can’t bring yourself to apologize, let this one go.
For help with your awkward situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com, to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.