My boyfriend and I have been together for six months. The problem is that he doesn’t have any friends. Being as stupid in love as I am with the dude, it feels really shitty when I go out with the girls and he stays at home or goes for a drink solo. He says it would be great if we could find another couple to do things with, but making one friend is hard enough, let alone trying to find two.—Aisha
Picture me running around you and your boyfriend in circles, anxiously blowing a vuvuzela (this is how I solve problems in the summer), because you have a bigger problem than you think you do: Your boyfriend doesn’t have any friends. Did that evade your notice while you were doing butterfly kisses on the sidewalk? Also, don’t do that. (Insert vuvuzela blast.)
I don’t think it’s important for everyone to have a superfluous friend group (nobody on TV has more than three friends, anyway), but since your boyfriend is social enough to locate and secure a girlfriend, he can definitely find someone to hang with once a week, right? And it’s his responsibility to find something to do when you go out, not yours. Really: not yours. Tell him that, nicely. It should feel normal, necessary, and good for you to hang out with your friends. Don’t transform into one of those girls who stays home because her man has nothing to do. (Vuvuzela triple blast!)
To not answer your question at all: It’s really hard to make “couple friends” because one-on-one chemistry has to replicate in four new directions, and it’s even harder when one of you doesn’t try. And why is he putting the onus on you? Ask him to work on his own friend-life first. Being stupid in love is the best, best thing ever, but it’s not going to last if he’s in your kangaroo pouch all the time.
At some point in my life I got into bad habits that I’ve never been able to shake, especially eating junk food. How can I stop doing the stupid things I do? —Trevor
The best-selling author of The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg, says, “Everyone, according to studies, relies on habits for about 40 per cent of their daily behaviours.” Duhigg explains that every habit has three components: a cue, like seeing a donut; a routine, like eating it; and a reward, like a sugar high. “When most people think about habits, they focus on the routine. But it’s the cue and reward where the power lies.”
He adds, “Take your junk-eating habit: What sets it off? Does it always occur at a certain time? Or when you’re feeling bored or blue?” For a week or a month, write down what is happening when you experience the urge; probably, there will be some consistent factor.
Then ask yourself what reward it provides. Duhigg suggests keeping an apple on your desk for legit hunger (physical hunger, as opposed to the social or emotional elements that create appetite), drinking a cup of coffee instead of pounding a Snickers (ooh, Snickers), or, if you really need a hit of sweetness, having something with Splenda.
“If you can diagnose the cues and rewards, you can find a new routine,” Duhigg says. So instead of going for a cigarette, a cookie, or a listless afternoon orgasm, you’ll have a new fun thing. This is why people get zealously into exercising and green smoothies; usually they’re replacing a bad habit. Alternately, respond to a craving by putting your face inside a bag of assorted Jelly Bellies and inhaling deeply. The olfactory cacophony of every possible bad-food flavour all at once might do the job.
Have a question for Kate? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.