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Dear Flora: Insulting Boyfriend and Dog Behavior

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Dear Flora,

Recently while we were sitting around the house, my boyfriend mentioned that if he had first met me where he works as a bartender, he would never have approached me because I’m mousey and nerdy. Initially I brushed off the comment, but lately it has been bothering me more and more. How do I deal with the fact that he basically called me ugly and said he isn’t attracted to me? Am I taking a single comment too personally?

-Apparently Ugly in Appalachia

Dear AUiA,

Your boyfriend's comment is definitely out of line, and I don't blame you for being upset by it. However, I think that, while a thoughtless comment like this deserves to be called out, it might not mean what you think it does. The only way to truly tell what the comment actually means is to talk to your boyfriend.

Let's break it down. Your boyfriend said that if he had met you at the bar where he works, he would not have approached you on looks alone, citing the opinion that you're "mousey and nerdy." Well, ouch. That sure doesn't seem to hold you up as desirable in comparison to the supposedly more glamorous clients he might be used to. But yet, he DOES seem to desire you: he is, in fact, your boyfriend, and not a random bartender who ignored you in favor of someone else. Attraction is about more than simply looks, and there's something about you that still draws him in. You are a beautiful person, even if he didn't describe it well at all.

I recommend that you talk to your boyfriend about it. Let him know that his comment makes you feel insecure and unappreciated. It would help to let him know some of the things you love about him, physical or not. You may find that his passing comment isn't malicious, but if your conversation reveals that he doesn't find you physically attractive, and that kind of attraction is important to you, perhaps you need to reevaluate your relationship.

Good luck!

Dear Flora,

First I want to say I LOVE animals. I have two dogs who are my best buds, and have never had a problem with someone else’s dog until now. My boyfriend has this dog who, despite having had him for over 4 years, has clearly never been trained; the dog isn’t house broken, all his furniture is absolutely covered in hair, the dog jumps up on people and furniture, and worst of all has to be in the bedroom with us, or he barks so loudly he ruins the mood. I love my boyfriend and would love to build a life together with him, but his dog is definitely in the way of this. I don’t want my dogs picking up bad behaviors, and I don’t want my home destroyed by his dog. He doesn’t see anything wrong with how his dog acts, but I can’t spend time at his place because of his dog’s behavior, he can’t keep spending too much time at my place, as the dog goes to the bathroom in the house if left alone too much, and we can’t live together because I cannot deal with his dog’s behavior. How do I get my relationship back on track?

-In The Dog House

Dear DH,

The basis of any healthy relationship is very similar to the guidelines for well-trained dogs: clear boundaries and communication. I'm glad to hear that you have these sort of expectations set for your dogs, and it must be a huge disappointment to not have your boyfriend on board with those expectations. I think that, with some firm and kind efforts to communicate your concerns, you can salvage this whole situation.

Sit down with your boyfriend and express your concern. Let him know that you love him and love his dog, but don't love the pooch's behavior. Tell him that ultimately, you want to live together, but that you need to work together on establishing the house rules for all the animals, not just his dog. List the concerns that you have very specifically, and why it might be a problem for you as a couple in the long-term. For instance, if you shared a home, eventually you will both be away long enough that the dogs will all need to be housebroken in order to keep your home dog dirt-free. Most importantly, listen to his reasoning behind the training (or lack thereof) that he's given his dog up to this point. Together, decide what is important to both of you in dog behavior. For example, you might be okay with dogs on the couch by invitation only, as long as you keep a regular cleaning schedule.

Your dogs are clearly important to you, and I hope you can find a compromise that suits you both. Communicating and listening is going to be the only way forward.

Good luck!

Folks, that's it for this week! Don't forget to submit your questions at the link below , and I'll see you in two weeks!

*Submissions may have been edited for grammar and/or clarity.