Monday, January 14, 2008

HTT, it's a bitter pill to swallow

Dear HTT,

My boyfriend's parents make a living selling nutritional supplements. Naturally, the family takes these daily supplements and swears by them.

Several months ago, I got a bug and was sick for about a week. My boyfriend sent me some of these supplements to help me get healthy and stay healthy. I thought it was sweet so I took them. For a little while.

I don't like to take vitamins or herbal remedies or anything. It's not that I think they don't work or are harmful or bad in any way. I simply don't want another product added to my daily routine. Basically, if it doesn't prevent pregnancy, pain, or severe misery, then I don't want to take it. I'm healthy and I feel like I get what I need from the food I eat.

So some time passed and my boyfriend gave me a four-month supply of this supplement. I tried to playfully decline it ("Aw, do I have to take my medicine? ... I know this is expensive--you don't have to give me this.") But he insisted and now I don't know what to do.

I feel bad pretending to take it. I feel bad wasting it. I feel bad lying that I'm taking it. (When I last visited his parents, his mother asked me if I were still taking it.) But I do not want to take it. What do I do? Is there a way to tell him I'm not taking it? Or do I continue the charade to avoid offending anyone?

No pills

Dear No Pills,

I'm with you. Every once in a while, I make a resolution to take vitamins. I drop a ton of money at Whole Foods or GNC or Vitamin World, and then dutifully take a handful of pills that make me a little nauseous, turn my pee bright yellow, and supposedly ensure that I'll live to be 100. I keep this up for two weeks at most, and then the various amber-colored pill bottles get pushed to the back of the cabinet, only to get tossed years later.

At first I thought it would be easiest to just lie about it. It’s a little white lie, so not very bad in the big scheme of things. Perhaps these pills could be treated like the gaudy holiday sweater Aunt Sadie might have been given you at some point in your life and that you only wear when she’s around. But telling a little fib to spare the feelings of Aunt Sadie, whom you only see twice a year, is a little different than carrying on an on-going charade with your boyfriend and his family.

You say that you already feel badly about pretending and about wasting the supplements, and you’d just feel worse over time. So I think you need to tell your boyfriend what you’ve told me. Assure him that don’t have anything against the supplements, but you’re just not good at adhering to a vitamin-taking regimen, and you’re afraid the pills will go to waste in a dark corner of your cabinet.

If you and your beau are in it for the long haul, this is likely to be just one of many differences between you that you’ll have to negotiate. No time like the present for practicing these sorts of discussions. Easy for me to say, I know. But give him a chance take this news well, to accept you for the healthy, non-vitamin-taking person you are.

Good luck!