Question:

I've been with John for two years. For the most part, our relationship is everything I wanted. Every now and then, though, I pick up on things that really irritate me. He really enjoys a comedian whose act is completely awful (in my opinion), with all the racist, blue humor you can pack into it.

I don't like anything that comes out of this comedian's mouth. When I try to explain, my boyfriend just says, "Yeah, but it's funny and no one else says it."

I completely judge him for liking this humor. Then I argue with myself that I'm too sensitive or trying to sabotage my relationship. John is otherwise a very nice person and treats me very well. I admit I lack self-confidence. In some ways, I don't feel "good enough" for him. Do you think it's possible to want to subconsciously end this relationship to "get it over with"?

Answer: We subconsciously talk ourselves into and out of things all the time - a process usually set in motion by a truth we wish would just go away, something we prefer to banish from conscious thought.

In your case, it sounds as if you're talking yourself both into and out of John. That would make sense, since it sounds as if you have two truths you wish would go away: You don't trust John or yourself.

You say he appreciates the comedy because "no one else says it." Some people wouldn't say "it" because they don't believe "it"; others are quiet because they believe "it" completely but have learned there's big trouble in saying so out loud.

You know from John's behavior in other situations which is true about him.

If you've seen hatred in John, his treating you "very well" doesn't supersede that; people are rarely one clear thing or another. The trick is to identify things that do matter, to you, so you aren't sidetracked by small things that don't.

You are emitting your true feelings in spite of yourself. When those feelings don't fit the narrative you had in mind, then your mind starts searching for explanations that will keep your vision intact. "I just need X to change," say, or "He's especially stressed lately." Your mind puts a palatable spin on your unhappiness.

To be more confident in your choices, make a conscious effort to work from your raw feelings, the ones that haven't been rationalized. Focus attention on your everyday life - at home, at work, at play, at rest, alone, with John, with friends.

E-mail Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com.