Dear Boyfriend Who Just Might Dig Himself Out Of Trouble If He Plays This Perfectly,

My 27-year-old son, whom I love very dearly, lost his job over a year ago and continues to be without work. My husband and I tried to be supportive for a while because the layoff was hard for him and it is a tough economy. But we’ve been helping him out with his rent for months and months, and sometimes it seems like he isn’t making a real effort to find new work. What do I say to him?

—Frustrated In Frankfort

Dear Frustrated,

Hey, hey, Sarah, that’s not what I meant. No, I completely take it back. I’m sorry. Honestly, I'm really sorry. I wasn’t thinking about my words, I wasn’t thinking enough about your feelings, and I accidentally said something I didn’t mean. But now I’ve said sorry, and now you know I never felt that way at all. So we can just move on and talk about something else. Yeah? Again, very sorry. Don’t even know why I said that, because it’s really the opposite of how I feel. You’re okay now, right? You good?

Dear Boyfriend Who Just Might Dig Himself Out Of Trouble If He Plays This Perfectly,

My friend Tina is really hilarious and a lot of fun to hang out with but can sometimes take me for granted by asking me to do all these little favors for her. While I value our friendship, I don't want her to feel like she can just ask me to do things for her all the time simply because I have a giving nature. How do I handle this gently?

—Hesitant In Helena

Dear Hesitant,

I mean, we can talk about it if you want. I did apologize already, but okay, sure. You’re right. Let’s sit down and talk about it. No, no, that’s fine. No, I get it, we do need to be upfront about our feelings, you’re right. You were absolutely right and I was absolutely wrong. I didn't mean to sweep the whole thing under the rug when you were still feeling upset and wanted to talk about it more. That’s not what I meant to do, even though it might have come off that way. I can see how that sounded now, and I apologize. I value what you say so, so much, and I would never intentionally ignore you. So whatever you think I meant, that’s not what I meant, I promise. No, look, I am paying attention. Look at my face. I am.

Dear Boyfriend Who Just Might Dig Himself Out Of Trouble If He Plays This Perfectly,

My kids are always starving when they come home from school. What's a good, healthy after-school snack for kids that won’t spoil their appetite for dinner?

—Mommy In Minneapolis

Dear Mommy,

Of course I care! Sarah, I care so much about this relationship. I do the dishes all the time. Then when you were sick, remember how I went to get you Sudafed at Rite Aid and took care of you and stuff? And I always have to listen to you talk about your job—you think I would do that if I didn’t care? No, obviously I don’t mean it’s a burden listening to you talk about your career. Or that my career is better than yours. Sarah, they’re different, alright? Look, I want so badly to be a good boyfriend right now, Sarah. I want to apologize, and I want to explain that I didn’t mean any of what I said literally, but it’s really, really hard to do that when you always make it about yourself or your work or your friends.

Dear Boyfriend Who Just Might Dig Himself Out Of Trouble If He Plays This Perfectly,

My husband and I used to be avid cleaners, but lately it’s like we’ve lost all our motivation. The house is a wreck, and we don’t even walk the dog twice a day anymore. How can we overcome our laziness and take care of the growing mess?

—Lethargic In Louisville

Dear Lethargic,

I’m sorry. That was out of line. Most of your friends are great, Sarah. We can have them over more often if that’s what you want. Listen, I understand now that I shouldn’t have contradicted you, because look what’s happened. Look at how much we’re fighting. Neither of us wants this. I know that. And I know you know that. You’re so smart, Sarah. That’s part of the reason I love you so much. You’re my partner. I love you, I love you. And I promise promise promise I never meant to make you upset. I wasn’t thinking. I’ve learned now never to say anything like that again. I have. Please, Sarah, just tell me what you want me to say. Tell me what I can say to make you feel happy again. No, I’m not trying to talk to you like a child. Honestly, I’m not. That came out wrong.

Confidential To Omaha Outcast:

You’re the most amazing person I’ve ever met. I need you, and the very last thing I want is for you to be mad at me. You know you’re all I care about. I know you feel the same way because we trust each other, Sarah. We’re both selfish sometimes. I mean, just look at how I acted today. And maybe you contributed to the frustration of this conversation a little bit, too. I’m not trying to justify my behavior! No, I’m not trying to say this was your fault, either. I’m just saying, you know, keep in mind the part you play in these fights, too, and try to understand. What? What did I say? I don’t get what I said. Shit.

Evan Burgess is a syndicated columnist whose weekly column, "Ask A Boyfriend Who Just Might Dig Himself Out Of Trouble If He Plays This Perfectly," appears in more than 250 newspapers nationwide.