Dear Annie: I'm in a three-year relationship with my boyfriend. I know him very well, as we've been together for so long. We hung out a few times three months ago, but we haven't seen each other in person since. We still keep in touch on social media, and he calls when he can. But this three-year relationship is really more just like being friends. I thought that a year or so into relationships, couples start to plan big — such as getting engaged or at least making plans to stay together long term. Am I just rushing? What is he waiting for? Help me. — Lost in This Relationship
Dear Lost in This Relationship: You shouldn't have to fill in the blanks. You and your partner should be writing this story together. It's time for a heart-to-heart with your boyfriend. Find out whether you're both on the same page about this relationship. And separately, do some soul-searching on your own. How do you feel about him? It's not clear from your letter. If you're just clinging to a mediocre relationship out of fear, it's time to let go.
Dear Annie: I work in a business plaza running my own successful office. Recently, a young woman from another, unrelated office has been making very hurtful remarks to me every time she sees me in the hallway or another common space. I have an obvious disability, though it has not stopped me from being employed and doing my job well. The remarks include: "Why are you always in the hall?" "You look ridiculous" "Don't you have anything to do? Do you wander around all day?" I walk between two offices often, which explains my being in the hall. I never respond. I have tried to be friendly and say "good morning" or some similar greeting, but she goes out of her way to make a mean remark.
I don't want a confrontation, and because we only share an office building, there is no one to report this behavior to. I guess this is a form of bullying, even from a grown woman. I think I just need to understand your thoughts on why this is happening and, if possible, to make it stop. — Hurt Every Day
Dear Hurt Every Day: The saddest thing about your situation is how this bully — and yes, you are correct, she is a bully — feels about herself. How others treat you says much more about them than it does about you.
As for practical steps for dealing with a bully, your decision to ignore her is a good start. The next step is to stand up for yourself in a calm and confident manner and tell her to stop harassing you. I realize that you don't like confrontation, but sometimes being brave in the moment will make your life a whole lot easier in the long run. Additionally, I encourage you to call her workplace and tell her supervisor about this abusive and unacceptable behavior. If she is unresponsive or hostile, continue to ignore her, and keep reminding yourself that she is the one with the problem.
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