Dear Miss Emily:

I have been going out with my boyfriend for 10 months and 9 days, and I have been really sad lately.  I have been going through stuff in my life, so I come to him a lot to cry on his shoulder.  But all we do now a days is, I cry and he listens and he jokes a lot.  But right now I am not good with taking jokes, so we end up arguing.  He said he will stop joking, but I don't want him to because than I would feel he would be putting on a mask just for me.  But I still get mad at him. I don't know what to do?  Should I get him to keep joking around and just try and be better with it, or should I ask him to change because then I think I would be happier?  But the other night, we had the best time just watching a movie, joking around and just running and chasing each other. The next day I was my sad self, again. For a bit there, I took a joke and let them bounce off me but, now, I am not like I want to be.  I do believe that he loves me and won't leave, but when he jokes he sounds so serious about it, so I get caught up in that and I get mad.  I am so confused. Do you think you can help at all?

------------------------Miss Emily's advice--------------------

 Maybe the reason he jokes is because he doesn't really know what to say, or how to help you, or even relate to your problems -- and it's easier to joke than figure out the best way to deal with a delicate situation. That said, a little levity in the face of trouble can help you briefly escape from those troubles. But it's hard to shift from sadness to laughter, most of the time, and the challenge to do it can be emotionally trying. Tell him you appreciate that he's a good listener, and is there for you, but sometimes you have trouble transitioning from one mood to the other. Ask him to honor your request for him to back off (because it's okay for you to ask this of him) and, in turn, you'll try to temper your anger if he slips up.  Also keep in mind that, although you are going through some rough times, your boyfriend is not your therapist, and you can't expect him to be a constant sounding board to endless problems. I don't mean to sound harsh, nor do I wish to undermine what you are going through, I only want to let you know that listeners can sometimes end up turning a deaf ear to those who dwell on problems without seeking solutions. If you are depressed, you need to seek the help of a doctor, or get some counseling because you deserve to be happy. If it's home problems that are causing your anguish, try desperately to seek an equilibrium by realizing that you can change it, someday, when you are on your own and can live your life by your standards. Sometimes you have to make tough choices, but it's your life and you have every right to live it the way you see fit.