q: i’ve been with my boyfriend for a year, and am very happy. he has a few quirks - doesn’t make a lot of eye contact during conversation (some, but less than the average person), and sometimes faces away from the person he is speaking to. he also tends to ramble a bit. i find these traits tolerable, and the rest of his personality more than makes up for it, but my mom is convinced he has autism or asperger’s. my mom is not an expert in psychological disorders, but thanks to the power of google searches, likes to think she is. she’s been giving me warnings about this, and told me i should encourage him to see a professional. she has also hinted that my relationship will not work out in the long run, which is very hurtful. i know that i am a grown ass woman and should be making my own decisions in this relationship, but there is the sinking feeling that my mother may be right.
should i bring this up with my boyfriend, even though his behavior does not affect the way i feel about him? i’ve told my mother to leave this issue alone, and she has agreed not to bring it up anymore. Whether or not she keeps her promise is another story.
- mom’s the word
a: this is affecting TWO of your really important relationships, so it extra sucks, and we feel for you.
your mom isn’t an expert, so her opinions are just the opinion of a layperson/mom. she presumably wants what’s best for you - but you’re really the only person who knows that. if a dude with some quirks (and what may or may not be an autistic disorder) is the best thing for you, let her know that and then don’t let it get to you. you’ve already asked her to knock off her unsolicited feedback, so just continue to do so if she continues to feel the need to pipe up. she’ll get over it and if she doesn’t get over it, let it be her problem!
the thing is, you’re aware of these traits. your boyfriend might be unaware of certain of these quirks, or he might just live in his head a little more than the average person, or he might have an autism spectrum disorder! you are, in your own words, very happy with him and find those traits tolerable. your mom’s problem doesn’t have to have any bearing on that.
doing something that feels like you’re defying your parents is difficult at any age, but is the right of any grown ass woman to do.
bringing this up with your boyfriend is potentially/probably going to be a pretty weird and awkward conversation, but it doesn’t have to be hurtful. you are either already or are going to in the near future manifest some outward expressions of that inner sinking feeling, and you may as well just deal with it straight up. you certainly don’t have to give him the play by play of things your mother said, or mention the word autistic. basically - you can gauge what he may or may not be comfortable as far as specific wording, but as your partner he probably deserves to be made aware of an issue that’s big for you.
q: last week i had to take a trip to the emergency room. my doctor ordered a test and sent me down to the testing center to take it. i was in the waiting room for a while, incredibly uncomfortable, and i’m sure it showed on my face. i had my head leaned against the wall for support and to rest a little bit. a little while later another woman sat down in the waiting room and began chatting with me (about purses, of all things!). i tried to nod and follow along and give her a few responses, but i really just wanted to yell at her to shut up and leave me alone, I’M SICK!
was i allowed to tell her to shut up? and what’s wrong with people?
- sick and tired
a: “what’s wrong with people?” is a really complex question for the ages, with a multitude of right answers. so many things are wrong with so many people.
but this woman, in the waiting room, chattering at you while you were trying to take a sick person nap against the wall of the doctor’s office waiting room was probably just oblivious. maybe rude, maybe dumb, probably just not paying attention. really, she was just trying to make small talk and however annoying that can be, it’s usually done with friendly intentions.
so, no, you’re not allowed to tell her to shut up, not exactly like that! that would be pretty rude, too. but you’re definitely allowed to turn to her and say “lady, i am REALLY SICK and cannot converse with you right now.” if you can’t, or don’t want, to talk to someone, it’s always okay to tell them as much. no one is actually entitled to your rapt attention, however much they might disagree with you on that. sometimes people just like the sound of their own voices so much they need to be reminded that other people might like and NEED a little peace & quiet now & then.
q: a couple months ago i met a man and hit it off immediately. we started dating and have been dating regularly since. a month ago i asked him if he was seeing anyone else, and he said he was in the process of breaking things off with another woman he’d been dating for a few months because she wasn’t his type and it wasn’t going anywhere. he said he’d been dropping hints he didn’t want to see her and that things going so well with me had given him the motivation to break it off.
we continued seeing each other a few times a week and went away on a weekend ski trip two weeks ago. during that weekend, he let me know he had broken things off with her and wanted to see me exclusively. that trip was his idea, too, and he is most often the one who plans our dates.
i was feeling pretty good about everything until a few days ago, when i sent him an email during the work day to say hi and ask a couple questions - one being if he’d like to attend a work reception with me in a few weeks as i need to rsvp. he called me that afternoon but his phone was cutting out, so he said he’d email me when he got home for the evening. he didn’t, and i didn’t hear from him the next day either. i ended up getting really drunk and when i got home there was still no message from him. i called his house multiple times, which might have been okay except that one of his housemates kept answering, telling me my friend was asleep, and asking me to call the next day. i called his cell phone multiple times too and finally ended up leaving a very drunk message, so even if his roommate didn’t tell him what i did, he knows. the message was along the lines of “are you giving me signs you don’t want to see me, because i know that you just ignored the last girl you dated once you were sick of her.” yikes.
the next afternoon, after a morning of deep regret, i called him. he answered! i apologized and we actually had a nice conversation. he said he was sorry he hadn’t emailed - he’d gotten caught up with work and forgotten. he accepted my apology about the phone calls and said he understood. then he told me he still had to check his calendar to see if he could go - that was two days ago, and all i’ve heard from him in the interim is one text which said “hope you’re having a good day today, still not sure on that date, see you soon.”
did i just ruin this?
- call me
a: yeah, probably.
but it’s no big deal, and here’s why: a man who cannot communicate his intentions in a basic and straightforward way is not a man worth pursuing. breaking things off with someone is hard, but if you are an actual mature adult, you cannot treat people in this manner. it’s not honest or nice or decent. a text with the words “i don’t think we should see each other anymore” is (still completely rude, geeze - but is) better than ignoring someone. someone is a person. a person deserves basic respect. people who don’t practice basic decency in simple dating relationships probably don’t practice decency in the complex ones, either.
let’s imagine, though, that you had acted out in this manner with a better dude. getting drunk and causing a crazy scene is understandable, of course, and relatable because we’ve all been there (haven’t we), but that still doesn’t make it okay. next time you’re feeling freaked out about something with someone (who is a person, who deserves basic respect), try to deal with it before getting shitfaced and also not in the middle of the night while he is sleeping.
q: i’ve been dating an awesome guy for about a year. he is wonderful and loving and treats me well. we have been talking about marriage, and both seem to want to move in that direction. a few months ago he admitted to me that he enjoys cross-dressing.
i’m trying my hardest to be open-minded about it and even occasionally participate by helping him pick out things to wear, but truthfully it makes me uncomfortable. he goes through phases, and has admitted to me that the act of dressing as a woman calms him, and so he enjoys doing it more often when he is stressed out.
a few nights ago i admitted my discomfort about it to him, and he responded by telling me he’ll put everything away until i feel more comfortable with the idea. i don’t think i’ll ever feel comfortable with it, but i also hate the idea of asking him to stop doing something he enjoys.
a: you sound like a nice lady. no judgements, in touch with your feelings, willing to talk about things. it sucks to be in the position you’re in - not sucks because your boyfriend is a cross-dresser because plenty of people enjoy all sorts of weird sexy stuff at no detriment to their relationships, but because of your comfort level with what you rationally understand is fine and harmless. sometimes things that should feel fine just DON’T.
so what do you do? you don’t want to ask him to give it up, and you can’t anyway. even if he acquiesces for the time being, i promise you he’s not giving it up for good. and why should he? he’s comfortable with it, he’s trying to share this thing he enjoys, and he’s been honest AND he’s trying to work with your comfort level. he sounds like a pretty nice dude, too.
maybe you think you’ll never feel comfortable with this because you don’t feel comfortable with it now. sometimes things change. maybe with time you’ll get so used to it you’ll wonder why you ever thought twice about it. maybe there’s some sort of compromise you can reach about it. maybe you’d be okay with it if you weren’t participating in it. maybe he can continue to enjoy it privately. there are certainly ways the two of you can work with or around this.
your comfort is important. you can’t marry a person who doesn’t make you feel secure, and he shouldn’t marry a person who doesn’t accept this part of him. if you know you’ll never feel comfortable with this, better to make that tough decision now.
q: my son is a terrible father. i should be biased in his favor, being his mother and all, but given the way he abandoned his girlfriend and child, and had to be taken to court over a completely reasonable child support payment (more than once) i can’t really be on his side.
my granddaughter’s mother recently contacted me to invite me to her 2nd birthday party. we haven’t had much contact, but i would really like to and it sounds like my granddaughter’s mother would like it as well. i am hoping it is the beginning of a good relationship with both of them.
she has another daughter who is about 5, who it would be my first time meeting. i would like to bring gifts for both girls but am wondering about the appropriateness of it. i know she is not my granddaughter, but it seems right to establish a relationship with her too.
- great grandma
a: it’s a shame your son is what he is, but we won’t blame you because you sound so nice & reasonable. you are setting a good example with his baby mama and his baby, and maybe eventually he will get his shit together and stop being such a dumbass.
there is nothing inappropriate about bringing your granddaughter’s sister a gift - it seems like a really nice, simple gesture. i’m sure their mom will understand your motivation and if she doesn’t, you can explain it. there’s nothing wrong with treating the other daughter as a sort of grandkid by proxy because she’s someone with whom you will have some kind of relationship if you have a relationship with her mom and sister.
and we hope with you that this is the beginning of a really nice relationship with your granddaughter, her sister, and their mom. it sounds like it will be really good for everyone involved.
q: my partner and i have been together about 6 years. we’re in our 40s, in stable careers, live in a city we both like, and have good friends and a pretty active life - both physically and socially. i love our life together and am very happy. my partner recently approached me and told me that although she loves me, she doesn’t feel like she’s “in love” with me anymore, and that she’s not sure if she wants to be in the relationship any longer.
i’m of the mind that no two people are ever happy all the time, and that no relationship maintains the state of bliss that happens when you first get together. i told her that what she’s feeling are the natural flows of a relationship, but not a reason to break up.
i think she’s also still struggling with her family’s reaction to our relationship. they’re very religious and when she first came out (when we began dating), it was very hard for her to deal with their lack of acceptance. they still don’t accept it, and although they are friendly to me and don’t say negative things as often as they once did, i know this is hard on her.
how can i explain to her that couples deal with this all the time? and how do i help her with her family? i love her very much and don’t want to lose her.
- lady in love
a: sure, couples do deal with this all the time, you are correct.
but… unless this is her first relationship, she already knows that. (her approaching you to talk about how her feelings have changed is not the time for you to explain to her that that’s just how relationships go - it’s the time for you to have a conversation with her about her feelings, your feelings, and your shared relationship, because SHE ISN’T INTO IT, lady.
or maybe she is into it, but she’s unhappy with some specifics. maybe you’re not a very good listener? maybe some of her needs are being met? maybe her needs have changed? maybe it IS her family? maybe the relationship needs some spark? she wouldn’t have approached you if she felt like things were perfect, and your response probably didn’t endear you to her.
if you love this woman and don’t want to lose her, LISTEN TO HER. you might still lose her, but at least you’ll understand what’s actually going on.
as for her family - it is of course astounding that people still think this way but it is also just going to be the way until people get over having tiny brains about this issue. hopefully soon. geeze, did you hear those supreme court arguments? awesome. but in the meantime, her family is her family. it’s either just going to take them more time OR they’re never going to get over it. it sucks, but your ladyfriend is a grown ass woman who doesn’t NEED her family’s approval, and that’s just how she has to start looking at it. easier said than done, of course, but talking to a therapist would probably be a good start.
q: i’ve been dating a pretty awesome dude for a couple of months now. he’s smart, funny, interested in the same things as me, etc. i like him a lot. we haven’t gotten as far as exclusivity - that conversation hasn’t happened yet - but we did finally sleep together about a week ago.
over the weekend, his ex was in town and they hung out. he didn’t mention this to me but i figured it out via facebook. i wasn’t too worried because they broke up because she moved to a city many states away and he had told me they were still friends. i was a little bummed he didn’t mention it, though.
since then, it’s that thing where he’s pretty much stopped speaking to me, which i have always heard about but never experienced. it’s only been a few days, but it sucks. do i give him space? am i supposed to call? can i ask what’s up with his ex?
- humped and dumped
a: there might be a million reasons he hasn’t been in touch with you post-humping, but the overarching one is that he is a selfish, rude, mean jerk. because really, it takes less than a minute to compose a text message. and it doesn’t take very long to call, either!
he could be otherwise completely awesome, and smart, and funny, and cool, and interesting, and handsome, but what he did there was not nice. and not nice is not pursuable boyfriend material, just not. this is not awesome and smart and cool and BALD - it’s awesome and smart and cool and MEAN. one of those things is okay to overlook, and the other is not. (also, he’s probably not as awesome or cool or smart as you thought he was anyway, right?)
so really, what we’re saying here is that it doesn’t matter why he hasn’t been in touch, just that he hasn’t. he is not a quality dude. you should definitely give him all the space in the world, not call, and definitely don’t bother plaguing yourself with WHYs, especially if they relate to his ex. it’s not worth your time or your energy or your effort.
q: my husband’s parents just let us know that they are separating. my husband is not taking it very well.
a few years ago, my husband’s father realized he was interested in a “poly” lifestyle. he brought this up to his wife, and she agreed to accept it - in the interest of keeping the marriage together. she’s had a lot of trouble with it in the intervening years and finally realized it’s just too much for her, so she is leaving.
my mother-in-law has said a couple things to my husband that make it clear to me that she would stay if her husband would give up his girlfriend and the poly lifestyle, but i don’t think she’s said them to her husband. meanwhile, my father-in-law is clearly distraught about the idea of his wife leaving and does not seem to know what to do with himself (although i don’t know if he is so distraught that he would give up the girlfriend). it seems obvious to me that SOMEONE should tell his dad that his mom just wants him to give up the girlfriend.
my parents-in-law obviously overcommunicate details of their personal life with me and my husband, so are we actually allowed to offer them advice?
a: ugh and gross and sorry.
the bitches are definitely on the side of honest & open communication in relationships, making sure your needs get met & keeping your partner in the loop. someday people will learn that it’s really, really not necessary to tell anyone else the finer points of your relationships/sexy stuff, BUT OMG WHY ARE YOU BURDENING YOUR CHILDREN WITH THIS?!
anyway. it’s cool your father-in-law told your mother-in-law about these needs of his, and it’s cool she tried to be cool with it, and it sucks that it’s not working out for either of them, and it sucks that your husband is broken up about it, but really you shouldn’t be burdened with figuring it out for them.
your parents-in-law are two grown ass, adult people. if they can talk to their kids about their marriage but not to each other about their marriage, and if their kids can figure out the solution to it but they can’t, there is probably something wrong with their marriage that isn’t “one too many bitches.”
of course, if your parents in law are bringing it up, by all means, mention that you’ve got the answer. it’s always possible neither of them have actually thought of it yet.
q: first things first, i’m 37, divorced, have three kids and own a home. after 16 years of a mostly bad marriage, i finally divorced my husband and have been single for about a year now. about six months ago i started dating a 41 year old man who has no children, but is very good with mine. he spends a lot of time with me and the kids at home, helps out with repairs, cooks meals with us, and is there for me emotionally and physically. (i am not in need of his financial help, but he is financially stable.)
it sounds great, but our relationship isn’t progressing the way i would like. if the word “marriage” is even mentioned, i swear he turns chalk white! he says he is perfectly happy the way the relationship is and doesn’t want to ruin what we have. (he has not been married.) i, on the other hand, would love to be married again to the right man. we are very much in love and i don’t understand his unwillingness to commit legally. he says that all he has to offer me is what he is offering me right now, but i won’t be someone’s “girlfriend” for the rest of my life!
should i just let go and get on with my life without him? i don’t believe in giving ultimatums, because i wouldn’t want to force someone to doing something they didn’t truly want to do.
- girlfriend problem
a: it sounds like the problem here is your (your as in yours, and as in his) pre-existing ideas about marriage. you, having been married, would like to do it again. he, having not been married, wants to avoid it altogether. i’m sure you both have perfectly good reasons for both. after all, there are plenty of reasons to get married and also to never get married. both make sense! you’ve probably talked about it extensively. you still want to get married, he still doesn’t. so now what?
consider what it means to fall in love and be happy. consider that it isn’t just every day that you’ll come across someone who sounds pretty much perfect for you except for this ONE thing. consider that while about 40% of first marriages end in divorce, a much higher number (somewhere between 70-80%) of second and third marriages do. is another marriage worth losing a person who is wonderful for you in all other ways, especially when it’s such a gamble that it’ll last?
maybe, if marriage means that much to you.
but really, only you can decide. if you’re actually asking us if you should let him go and move on, our answer is no, absolutely not, don’t be so stupid.
q: about a year ago, i met a guy online and we hit it off. we progressed to talking on the phone as well, and we developed a connection that turned into love. the problem is - i lied. when i met him i was having problems in my marriage - my husband was drinking and absent. the man i met online didn’t know that i am married, that i have two children, or that i am actually 20 years older than i told him i was.
a few months ago, my husband went through a real change. he’s stopped drinking and taken the beginning steps to getting better himself as well as fixing our relationship. my husband is aware that i met someone else, and i think it’s one of the things motivating him to work on our problems. i’m starting to feel happy in my marriage again and want to fix it, too.
i decided to end it with the man i met online by coming clean and letting him know my situation. he doesn’t believe me! he thinks i am making up my age, kids, and reconciled marriage because i don’t know how else to end things with him, and he is convinced i am making a mistake ending things, so he says he won’t let it go. he is convinced he is in love with me and that we are meant to be!
i feel like a jerk for having lied in the first place, a jerk for not being believed now, and a jerk because he is hurting, and now i’m at a loss as to what to do to fix it.
- a jerk
a: OH NO YOU DID NOT GIRL. no. you did not. you did. WHY?!!
actually, nevermind, at this point, why no longer matters (except to you, your husband, and your therapists. because we sincerely hope you’re seeing therapists - separately as well as together). at this point, all you can do, all you have to do, is cut the cord and move on.
let your internet boyfriend know that you are sincerely sorry for all the lies and hurt you have caused him, but that this new story & new you are the real story & the real you. perhaps you can include a family photo to prove your point. just tell him the facts, really dig out that proper apology, and then ask him to please stop contacting you. let him know that you will no longer respond to messages, phone calls, or carrier pigeons and mean it. don’t answer another one of his messages. block his email. don’t pick up when he calls. block his number. if he calls from a new line, hang up. cut the literal cords, cut the figurative cords. what he needs to heal is time away from you, and sometimes people are not themselves following a break-up, even a break-up with a fake internet person. as much as he is responsible for his behavior now, you spun a web of lies, and now you are stuck in it. you owe it to him to be honest, as kind as possible, and firm.
if he doesn’t let it go in a reasonable amount of time, or if he escalates the situation, report him appropriately.
and like we said, therapy! always with the therapy.