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February 8, 2013

12:07
P.M.

Carolyn Hax Live: Advice columnist tackles your problems (Friday, February 08)

Total Responses: 30

About the hosts

About the host

Host: Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997 as a weekly feature for The Washington Post, accompanied by the work of "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis. The column has since gone daily and into syndication, where it appears in over 200 newspapers. Carolyn joined The Post in 1992 as a copy editor in Style, and became a news editor before turning to writing full-time. She is the author of "Tell Me About It" (Miramax, 2001), and the host of a live online discussion on Fridays at noon on washingtonpost.com. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and their three boys.

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About the topic

In her daily column in The Washington Post Style section, Carolyn Hax offers readers advice based on the experiences of someone who's been there. Hax is an ex-repatriated New Englander with a liberal arts degree and a lot of opinions and that's about it, really, when you get right down to it. Oh, and the shoes. A lot of shoes.

Carolyn was online Friday, February 8, at Noon ET, taking your questions and comments about her current advice column and any other questions you might have about the strange train we call life. Her answers may appear online or in an upcoming column.

E-mail Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com.

Got more to say? Check out Carolyn's discussion group, Hax-Philes. Comments submitted to the chat may be used in the discussion group.

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Q.

Carolyn Hax :

Hi everybody. I'm here, but people just arrived to work on my apartment, so I need about 5 minutes to relocate.

Q.

Carolyn Hax :

All better now, thanks, and I'll be starting in a moment. This is, by the way, the only thing on my calendar for today and tomorrow that wasn't canceled before the first flake. Cancellageddon.

Q.

Inviting yourself along

Re the second question in today's column, this type of thing happens to my husband and I occasionally and while he takes it in stride, it drives me nuts! I would never think to say to someone, "Your Saturday plans sound great, I'll come along!" At the very least, if you're going to do this, ask, don't just assume. How do people even think this is OK? Or are they just not thinking?

A.
Carolyn Hax :

I think it's B, not thinking. But for everyone who feels too comfortable saying, "I'll come along!," there's someone else who doesn't feel comfortable enough saying, "Ooh, I'm sorry, this isn't the best time for that--but I'd love to set up something else with you for next weekend."

Granted, the "no" role is much harder, but it's ultimately a choice between quick pain or slow pain. 

 

 

– February 08, 2013 12:13 PM
Q.

Living, quite comfortably, gadget free.

I don't own a cell phone or have cable TV. What is the most polite way to respond to people who look at me like I've grown a second head when I tell them I can't "text" them or call them from every spot on the earth? I have a full life, both on the work and personal level, am working on college degree at night and do own a laptop for school work, email and internet browsing (some have hinted that I must be educationally limited). I don't think I need to be wired to the world 24/7 to be a complete person. My work place and friends think otherwise and have been quite aggresive about trying to correct this problem they think I have. I don't want to be rude, but I don't want to delve into a long story about my life style to everyone. What would you recommend as a clean and simple reply?
A.
Carolyn Hax :

"I'm not preaching to you to unplug, because that's your business. My choices are my business. Deal?"

Anyone who pushes further needs to be ignored. "I'm changing the subject now" works really well for that, as does not judging them for, ahem, "being wired to the world 24-7" and "from every spot on earth." That phrasing and your quotation marks around "text" suggest you put on a bit of a lemon-sucking face when you talk about being wired, and if you do, then that's not helping your cause.

– February 08, 2013 12:22 PM
Q.

Curbing a pottymouth

Hi Carolyn, My boyfriend is sweet , kind, and everyone I know adores him. However, it bothers me that he often uses profanity when we are arguing (sometimes directed at me). He always apologises afterwards for doing so, and has admitted that he needs to change, but it always slips out during arguments. I have told him that it is rude and is something that I will not stand for, but it continues to be a problem. Is this something that can change or is it just wishful thinking?
A.
Carolyn Hax :

So when his profanity is "sometimes directed at" you, is he saying "[Bleep] you" or "You're such a [bleeping] [bleep]," or is it, "I am so [bleeping] sick of having this [bleeping] argument"? I ask because the former raises the specter of verbal abuse, while the latter is just a potty mouth. 

I can say, even without more information, that you actually do "stand for" his profanity, because you're still with him and he's still doing it. That's fine, of course, as long as he's not being abusive, but it does undermine your position when you take a hard line in words only. When you declare that you won't stand for a certain behavior, then you need to be ready to leave the relationship the next time the behavior happens.

If what you mean is that you'll give him time to work on this but you will ultimately leave if he doesn't change, then that's something else. It's also something you need to declare to yourself, primarily--not to him. Say it to him and it's an ultimatum.* Say it to yourself and it's a plan--so, you need to be clear with yourself what about what needs to happen for you to stay. 

For example, you can decide that his profanity actually isn't a breakup-worthy issue for you after all, and you can stop saying things like, "I won't stand for that."

You can also decide that you're willing to stay as long as you see some indication that he's trying to manage his anger better.

You can also decide that you've waited long enough for any sign he intends to work on his anger, that you haven't seen any at all besides empty apologies, and that it's therefore time to break up.

Whether something "can change" or is "wishful thinking" is not universal or absolute. It's dependent entirely on the effort of the person doing the unwelcome thing.

 *What you can say that isn't an ultimatum is that when he uses profanity, you feel [whatever you feel]--and then you can ask him for whatever it is you've decided you need for you to be willing to stay. That is, without the threat: "When you use profanity, I feel [whatever you feel]. It would mean a lot to me if you made a real effort to manage your anger better, instead of just apologizing after you lose your temper."

 

 

– February 08, 2013 12:39 PM
Q.

Re inviting yourself along

On the other hand, sometimes inviting yourself is part of the culture. Think college. It took great strength of will to overcome my introverted aversion to saying "mind if I tag along?" but if I hadn't I never would have done anything fun, ever. (Though I think I always asked vs. just announcing.) Invitations didn't happen, and people assumed that if you wanted to partake, you'd speak up. It doesn't have to be a bad thing, although it sounds like the original LW's friend didn't have a good sense of where the line is. I still do it occasionally, when it's with someone I'm close to -- someone who, I hope, would know that I'd much rather be told "no" than be an imposition.
A.
Carolyn Hax :

Thanks for bringing this up, because I started to include it in my original answer but quit when I realized the mechanics of "tagging along"or, as you say, "where the line is"--were complicated enough to warrant a separate answer. Yes, part of it is the culture--but also part is in the nature of the adventure you're joining. If it's a run for a cup of coffee, okay, a tagalong can be only so much of a bother for 30 minutes--but a several-day trip is well over that line. There's also one's standing with the crowd to consider. If it's a group of people with whom you're often included, then that's less of an imposition risk than if they include you only when it's your idea. A lot of nuance to navigate there.

Better to stick with the, "Ooh, coffee, I could use some myself ..." routine, where you give the others a plain chance to say, "Great, come with us."

– February 08, 2013 12:47 PM
Q.

Inviting yourself along

The thing that gets me is not only is she inviting herself, she's inviting herself to friend B's house by asking friend A. Really, shouldn't the hostess be making the decision of who is staying at her home?
A.
Carolyn Hax :

Right, there's that, too--are you asking the person who has the authority to invite. Thanks. 

– February 08, 2013 12:48 PM
Q.

Parents moving to town

Hi, My very reasonable parents are making the move to a nearby city (20 minutes away) in the near future. I heard I should talk to them about setting boundaries, but I am not sure what that entails. I have 2 little kids. They're great folks, but I want this transition to go smoothly for all involved. Thanks for your input! Love this chat!
A.
Carolyn Hax :

Thanks.

I am not comfortable with advising preemptive measures with "very reasonable" people. They're the ones who call first, who take it well when you say no, and whom you don't mind having around even when the timing isn't ideal, all without the need to be told. They're also the ones you can talk to all adult-like, and work with, when you do see the need to say something like, "We find it's hard to have visitors stay past X o'clock, because it messes up the kids' routines. Any chance you could come earlier, so we don't have to cut the visits short?"

Of course, the unreasonable ones,  those who need the preemptive boundaries, are the ones who take them badly when you try to set them, and who ignore them every chance they get. 

So there's that.

I guess if you have some counterintuitive or unconventional way of doing things in your home, then a preemptive mention  would make sense. Otherwise, whee! Reasonable grandparents 20 minutes away. I'm jealous.

 

– February 08, 2013 1:00 PM
Q.

Grandparents and Play

Carolyn, Is it stupid to not like the way my parents play with my 2-year old? (They live far away and our families can only manage to travel once or twice a year.) They bring something new for my daughter, and insist that she plays with it, even when she shows no interest. They will repeatedly try to get her to like their toy and take other things out of her hand to get her attention back. If she does something cute, they ask her to do it past they point of boredom. When she talks or tries to show them something, they ignore it unless it's part of what they want to do. One of them is also always taking pictures of her and trying to get her to pose. I know she loves them and all the attention, but I don't think it's good for her to be so bombarded with demands on her play. I suppose as she gets older she will say no or walk away if she doesn't want to play their way. In the meantime, am I overreacting and do I need to just let them play how they play?
A.
Carolyn Hax :

It sounds as if your complaints are legitimate, but to act on them strikes me as an overreaction. 1. The things they do are more ridiculous than harmful. 2. Any harm in these annoying habits would come over time and repeated exposure, and you see your parents maybe twice a year. 3. The stuff about trying to "get her to like their toy" is going to be a moot point very soon, if it isn't already. All of the other annoying stuff they do also will become less and less possible, as you already recognize, as your daughter gets older. 

Another benefit to staying out of it is that it will allow the three of them work out some way of getting along. (Again, this works only because it's all pretty harmless.) yes, they did raise you, but it's so easy to forget how to relate to a little person--especially for poeple who weren't particularly adept at it to begin with. Your parents may just be trying to bond with your kid and be no darn good at it. You can help a very little bit here--"She likes x, maybe try that," said casually and infrequently--but otherwise it's best to let them all figure each other out.

– February 08, 2013 1:12 PM
Q.

Let's talk about Sex

Carolyn, I recently found out my husband watches a significant amount of porn. It equates to him spending 4x as much time with porn as he does being intimate with me. This bothers me for a few specific reasons: 1. I'd love for our intimate relationship to be more frequent, but he often turns me down. 2. the content of the porn is something he know bothers me. 3. He watches it pretty much as soon as I leave the house and often when I'm sleeping. I've always known he watches some, but now that I know how much I'm really hurt and upset. More than I ever thought I would be. It has made me feel completely worthless as a woman. He doesn't know I found out the quantity of his porn viewing and this isn't something I can just let go of. How do I bring it up without starting a fight? And how do I even begin to want to be intimate with him again? Right now the idea of him touching me makes me want to vomit. The good news is, he rarely wants to touch me, so that battle can be fought second.
A.
Carolyn Hax :

The ailments your marriage suffers from are terminal if not treated--and sometimes even if they are. I think the best way to start the conversation is to say what you know about the porn use, how you feel about it, and that you'd like to start marriage counseling (with someone you've vetted, met and found agreeable).

Before you do this, be ready with a plan if he refuses. Talk to a therapist solo, get educated about sex addiction, talk to a lawyer? That way, you can say, "I'm disappointed to hear that. I'm not okay with having things stay the way they are, so I'm going to x."

By the way--I get the "feel completely worthless as a woman" reflex, but this isn't about you vs. other women, this is about you vs. a screen. I.e., this is about him.

– February 08, 2013 1:22 PM
Q.

Friend Drama

Hi Carolyn - I'm hoping you can help me with something. The last few times I have hung out with a friend, she told me I am "cheating" on her when I mentioned that I hung out with other people. She has also said that I can't have other friends. She says them in a joking manner, but it's happened more than once. It makes me uncomfortable because back in the day (prior to my many years of therapy!) I was always in the company of controlling people - parents, boyfriends, relatives, siblings - I figured out why I followed the controlling requests (like alienating myself from friends or not participating in certain activities because I was told not to or risk punishment) and I no longer allow it. When she said this, my automatic response was to shut down and get quiet because I felt like I was going to lose it  in a non-productive way, which would resolve nothing. I hate the way I felt when I was controlled and I started to feel that way again when she made those comments and it made me sad/upset/angry (she is well aware of my history). I don't know if I'm overreacting to her comments and should just continue to brush them off. Or if I'm not, I don't know how to begin to approach this situation. Up until the last few times we've hung out, our friendship has been really good. Sorry this is so long! ps - love your chats :)

A.
Carolyn Hax :

Thanky. 

How bout this, next time she does it: "You are kidding, right?"

If she backpedals, call you oversensitive, insists it was just a joke, etc., hold firm. "You know how I feel about being told what to do, even in jest." Then you see whether the friendship reverts to the really-good mode or gets/stays weird. If it's the latter, please consider that the change might not be in her, but in you, as you continue to get stronger--and better at spotting clinginess in others. 

– February 08, 2013 1:30 PM
Q.

on the brink of an overshare...

Carolyn, I need a dose of your bracing common sense. I am a mid 30's parent of young kids, VERY happily married (good sex, good laughs, good parenting partner, the works.) So here's my issue: I have a crush on a single co-worker with whom I travel frequently - so we spend a lot of time together. I suspect it's at least partially mutual. I have identified the fact that this person's appeal is because they remind me so much of my own awesome spouse, but the chemistry is really, really difficult to set aside. I have been professional, careful (no social outings w/o others, etc) and even introduced my coworker to my spouse, to try to moderate my own attraction. It hasn't really helped. I know it's temporary, and juvenile, but there you go. I have no intent to cheat and I don't think my coworker would either. Here's my real question: this person will be leaving the company in a few months. I don't think we'll stay in touch (clearly not a good idea for me.) At the end of our working time together, do I share my feelings? I might get soundly rejected, or they might take it as a compliment. I think I'd feel better, but what about my co-worker?
A.
Carolyn Hax :

NO, no sharing! You have a problem that's about to solve itself! Best thing to do with self-solving problems is get the heck out of the way.

– February 08, 2013 1:33 PM
Q.

Drunks need love too?

Hi Carolyn, I was wondering if you or the nuts had any advice on whats its like to become involved with a someone who drinks too much? He is responsible, only drinks socially, and is a happy rather than antagonistic drunk but the absurb quantities he can consume most certainly suggest he is an alcoholic. Of course he has many incredibly lovely qualities which is why I'm thinking about it.... but I don't have much experience with alcoholism, so was wondering what issues I should be considering? Thanks!
A.
Carolyn Hax :

The only issue to consider, imho, is how much harder it is to get out of an alcoholic sinkhole when you're at the bottom than it is when you're just standing at the edge, peering in. Right now, you just need a strategic step back. Get involved with him--and, egad, have kids--and that will involve a team of professionals (medical, legal, therapeutic), many moral quandaries and much pain.

Yes, drunks need love, too, but the only love that will make them into ex-drunks is sufficient self-love for them to seek,  accept and respond to help. Either he finds his off switch or a committed relationship will be bad for you both.

– February 08, 2013 1:39 PM
Q.

You, Me, Jim and Dave

Dear Carolyn, Ever since my boyfriend and I moved in together earlier this year, I have been uncomfortable with the amount of time his friends "Jim" and "Dave" spend at our house. They come over anywhere from 2-5 nights EACH WEEK, often showing up unannounced. They will say they're just coming over to watch TV and have "a" beer, which usually turns into 3, and don't leave till after I've gone to bed. This happens weekdays and weekends, whether or not my boyfriend and I already have plans with each other. At first, my boyfriend acted helpless about it ("I can't stop them from coming over"), but when I called him on that, he switched to a new defense: "I shouldn't have to give up my friends just because we live together." I'm at the end of my rope. Any suggestions?
A.
Carolyn Hax :
– February 08, 2013 1:41 PM
Q.

Um, it's about her too

"Right now the idea of him touching me makes me want to vomit" doesn't exactly correlate with "I'd love for our intimate relationship to be more frequent." I would be very surprised if he hasn't picked up on this as well - and maybe aggravated the porn use - since if someone finds you repulsive, you generally figure it out. This isn't just about porn, and it's not just about him.
A.
Carolyn Hax :

I think you have the chronology crossed. I see it as:

1. wanting more of an intimate relationship

2. discovering extent and bent of his porn use

3. vomitive thoughts.

OP--that right?

– February 08, 2013 1:44 PM
Q.

Re: sex addiction

Sex addiction? This term is thrown around WAAAAY too much. How is that any different than watching TV all day or surfing cat videos on the internet all day or reading all day? Replace porn with watching TV in this scenario and I doubt you'd be throwing around the term "addiction."
A.
Carolyn Hax :

You're right--I'd be talking about depression.

I'm not supposed to suggest getting -information- on something? 

– February 08, 2013 1:46 PM
Q.

Cellphones

Carolyn -- I certainly respect people's desire to unplug. But I find those who don't have cell phones are being amazingly selfish. When they get lost or running late it's always "oh, you know I don't have a cell phone." I understand people survived without them, but I have to say, I've slowly cut a few otherwise lovely friends out of my life. And I say this as a punctiously on-time person who never checks their cellphone, except when needed.
A.
Carolyn Hax :

But that's cutting them out because they are often late (fair) or often lost (debatable*)--not because they're unplugged. Unpluggedness just adds a layer of difficulty to those things. 

I think, by the way, we're on to a new word here: puncnacious. Combative about tardiness.

*Someone who 1. often gets lost and 2. holds up friends because of it arguably is failing to account for the value of others' time in not getting a phone or GPS, yes. But what if it's a budget decision--isn't that cutting them out b/c they're broke? If it's a harrumphy, Luddite move, then, okay, that would get old ... but then wouldn't it make more sense to work around that trait? I guess I have a hard time with the idea of cutting out "lovely" people because they're not worth the trip back to 1992. 

 

– February 08, 2013 1:58 PM
Q.

For Gadget Free

Carolyn, you breezed right over the statement, "My work place and friends..." Own your choices, but understand that this choice might cost you at work . It may or may not get you fired, but it will certainly impact your ability to get ahead-- promotions, special projects, etc. Most modern workplaces demand a certain level of communication. You might at least entertain the thought of getting a cell phone for work purposes only. But yes, if you do, in fact, feel that your choice makes you a superior being, that will definitely come through. Try respecting the other choice as much as you do your own and others will be more respectful of yours.
A.
Carolyn Hax :

Blew by it because I didn't notice it--thanks for the catch.

– February 08, 2013 1:59 PM
Q.

Anyone got an eleven-foot pole?

In the in box recently (I've condensed a bit): Email #1 from "Bob" to two dozen people, friends and relatives alike: Help! Someone talk some sense into my wife, I just found out she's having an affair with my son's soccer coach. Email #2 about an hour later: Oops, that was dumb. Never mind, forget I said anything, don't forward my email or repeat this, we're going to handle this privately, sorry to bother you. Email #3 from "Mary" next day: Well, we all make mistakes. But *I* won't go on about our marriage problems (which are many and long-standing) in public like *some* people. Any suggestions for a civilized response? Knocking together the heads of all involved, however satisfying, would not be civilized.
A.
Carolyn Hax :

Self-answering question. (See, "eleven-foot pole.") 

I actually felt for Mary, till I got to her score-settling email. Yikes.

 

– February 08, 2013 2:05 PM
Q.

Turning Thirty

I'm turning thirty in about a month. In the last year, I've gotten divorced (meh), gotten my PhD (yay!), and lost my dad to cancer (boo!). I can't help feeling conflicted: part of me wants some kind of celebration, and the other part of me feels kind of not like celebrating. I definitely want to do something, but I don't want to plan it or host it. Should I mention something to my friends, or just see if they come up with something themselves? It seems rude to say "throw me a party!" But then, it also seems like they might feel guilty if no one does anything.
A.
Carolyn Hax :

This isn't about a birthday so much as it is about figuring out who you want to be right now, I suspect. Do you want to be the person who rides out the crapstorm with jammies, a movie and [favorite indulgence here]? Or do you want to be the hit-the-town, coming-out-party type? Or do you want to use this as a chance to try something that you've always wondered about or been afraid to try?

Or do these tired images annoy you, because you're just done with the whole idea of what you're "supposed" to do--in which case it makes sense to choose an activity you feel like doing, birthday or no, with the friends you feel like seeing?

Birthdays are just artificial markers. It's what you're marking that matters. 

– February 08, 2013 2:12 PM
Q.

Gift with strings attached

Recently, my MIL gave my husband and I a large sum of money for a stated purpose. At the time, she said it was a gift. We were thrilled and thanked her profusely for her generosity, as it helped us accomplish one of our life's goals. Then, several months later, she has attached some conditions to the gift, which we never talked about before. I probably wouldn't have accepted the gift if I had known what she expected from us. Is it fair to expect us to comply? Are we somehow obligated to do so? How do I navigate this tricky conversation with her?
A.
Carolyn Hax :

No, you have no obligation here. Ideally you would be able to return the money, but it sounds as if you already spent it--true? 

More important: Why are you "navigat[ing] this tricky conversation with her"? This is so your husband's conversation to have.

– February 08, 2013 2:16 PM
Q.

Break Up: Friendship Edition

Hi Carolyn, I had been friends with another woman since we were in college. We had stayed good friends for the past 10+ years, were in each others' weddings, etc. However, for the last 5 or so years I tried to distance myself from her as she was a constant negative influence. However, last year, we took a girls trip for a few days and I had hoped that would help our friendship. Throughout the entire trip she was texting/calling/facebooking guys even though she's married and she admitted to cheating on her husband. That's on her, and I would never dream of getting involved and telling her husband. I passed no judgement whatsoever. A few months later, I come to find she has de-friended me on Facebook. Kind of a relief that she took the first step in confirming our friendship is over. My (long-winded) question is this: Over the years I have befriended some of her friends as well, and have varying levels of friendship with them. None of them are close friends, but I think they are great people. Do I owe them an explanation? Should I continue to be friends with them? Just not sure the best course of action.
A.
Carolyn Hax :

Continue on with them as you did before this primary friendship melted down, no explanation. You'll find out soon enough whether these friendships now stand on their own.

– February 08, 2013 2:20 PM
Q.

Harassing sister

My sister is harassing me to take my two little kids (ages 4 and 6) to do things like go to an amusement park, go skiing, etc. Problem is she doesn't want me to go. she wants to take them with her family. well, her husband is a drug/alcohol abuser who drives everywhere they go - under the influence "because he drives better that way". I'm terribly uncomfortable with this. Even if she was the one driving, she would not have any room in her car for booster seats - but that's ok she raised her kids without them so mine will be ok too. argh. I've been passive-agressive about it thus far but it's to the point that I need to say something definite about this. What can I say to her to get her off my back? Pointing out the obvious will only make me "dead to her" because that's her attitude toward anyone who disagrees. At this point should I just cut ties?
A.
Carolyn Hax :

Oh yes. It's very sad, but everyone you mentioned in this letter needs those ties to be cut. I also think you have an obligation to tip off the police in their home town to the impaired driving. 

 

– February 08, 2013 2:24 PM
Q.

Carseat Judgement

I've had multiple people question my car seat-related decisions for my children over the last few years. I follow AAP guidelines which currently recommend that children be rear facing until they reach the max weight designated by the seat manufacturer. On that same token, children should remain in a five-point harness until they reach the max weight for their forward-facing seat. Many kids are in elementary school before they are really big enough to use a booster seat and shoulder belt. I know several people who think you're "supposed" to turn children forward facing on their first birthday or transfer them to a booster seat when they turn four. I don't go around being judgmental or making comments to people who have done these things but they feel justified in asking me why I didn't. I don't know quite how to respond without in some way saying "Um, well you're doing it wrong." There are a lot of parenting choices where "right" is subjective but I am not aware of any debate among experts on this topic. On this same subject, how can I diplomatically explain that my petite four year old is only allowed to ride in a five point harness when she's with her aunt and uncle? Their younger child is using a booster seat in violation of our state car seat laws and I don't want to insult them but I also refuse to endanger my child to keep the peace.
A.
Carolyn Hax :

Remember, these practices and recommendations have evolved a lot over the years, from no restraints at all 40 years ago to LATCHing, rear-facing and five-point harnessing. The "right" thing you're doing now can be different from what someone know to be "right" a mere handful of years ago. So, I think it's more productive to approach it with that in mind, as opposed to taking the "I am not aware of any debate among experts on this topic" tack.

For example, you can respond to people's questions with: "Yeah, car seat rules are a constantly moving target. I use the AAP guidelines." Any further pressure can be dispatched with a rhetorical, "We all have to do what we think is best, right?"

As for riding with the aunt and uncle, hold your gound with, "It's about weight and height, not age, and so Pookie can't use a booster yet." And if you get crap, a firm, "Humor me, please," can go a long way.

 

 

– February 08, 2013 2:40 PM
Q.

Carolyn Hax :

This was going to be a new Q and A, but I didn't like the answer I was typing and chucked it. Starting over from scratch now ... sorry about that.

Q.

Texting despair..

I don't understand the entire texting thing. As a woman in her mid-30s, I'm getting very frustrated with guys that can't pick up the phone and call for a date, and instead want to do going-nowhere text relays for a week after meeting me. Your thoughts on this? Am I unrealistic to expect a phone call in these modern times.. or is this a sign the guy really isn't interested or just insecure? Can you do a public service announcement to guys out there to call please?
A.
Carolyn Hax :

Nope. Well, I can, but I won't. I don't agree that there's a "right" way, or that texting is a blanket "insecure" way, to communicate. (Oft abused, yes, but ...)

When you meet guys and exchange numbers, point out that you prefer calling to texting. Some will ignore you; they will be the guys you probably don't want to date. Some will either agree with you or be willing to accommodate you; they will be the guys you probably do want to date.

So much more productive than a PSA.

– February 08, 2013 2:55 PM
Q.

No Known Baby Daddy...

I am planning on having a baby through artificial insemination. I am not gay, I just haven't met the right guy, or actually I met all the wrong ones, and I am getting older. I am very anxious about how to tell people if I do get pregnant. This was never the ideal plan, but I am comfortable with it. I don't feel like going into detail with people. Is it ok to "lie" and say it just happened? I mean those close to me know I'm not seeing anyone and will be stunned if it successful as to how it happened. This is the part of the process that terrifies me most...sad I know, but it really bothers me how to handle it. Thanks.
A.
Carolyn Hax :

Close friend(s), you tell, if you want to be able to talk about your frustrations with someone.

Everyone else, you give the incredulous look justly deserved by anyone with the nerve to ask people how their babies were conceived. 

You are going to need to come up with an answer for your child at some point, so consider browsing a bit at the Single Mothers By Choice site (link). No need to reinvent the wheel here. 

– February 08, 2013 3:01 PM
Q.

Jim and Dave

OP here. I appreciate your response, and I'm sure you're right--but assuming I do want to stay in the relationship, do you agree with me that it's reasonable to want a few nights a week with no drop-ins? Also, I wonder whether the rules are any different since we are not married and hence my rights are more those of a roommate vs. wife. If I promise to check out rentals, will you please offer a tiny bit more guidance for the interim?
A.
Carolyn Hax :

Oh all right. 

First, the rules are -not- different with or without marriage, because this is about your consideration of each other's needs, and that would apply if you were 50 years' married or just good friends and roommates.

Next, his current defense cuts both ways: "I shouldn't have to give up my friends just because we live together" turns around nicely to, "Okay. And I shouldn't have to give up my quiet time just because we live together. Right? So doesn't it make sense that we both have to give a little, out of respect for each other?"

If he's a tool about it even after you put it that way, then: http://www.washingtonpost.com/rentals

– February 08, 2013 3:13 PM
Q.

Re: Harassing Sister

Say, "I would much rather be metaphorically dead to you than ever let my young children in a car with an impaired driver and risk that they end up actually dead. You are choosing to take this risk. I do not." End of conversation.
A.
Carolyn Hax :

And, end of chat. Bye all, thanks for stopping by, OH RIGHT and there has been a schedule change for next week: I am chatting Thursday sted Friday. Yes, Thursday is Feb. 14. In honor of that, it will be ... an anti-Valentine's Day chat! Or, if you're sick of the hating, it can be an anti-anti-Valentine's Day chat! Or, if you couldn't care less about Valentine's Day, it will be just another chat! In short, it is anything you want it to be, except it won't be on Friday. Nor will there be cash giveaways. Or a quiz. 

 

– February 08, 2013 3:17 PM
Q.

Re: No known baby daddy

Carolyn, if someone is rude enough to ask "how this happened," - wouldn't OP be in her privilege to say something such as, "Really, you dont' know how babies are made?" or "Sometimes the stork does drop one off" or something equally cheeky? Come on people, how low can rudeness go? Even if you're a close friend and know that OP isn't with someone, so what? Figure it out yourself. Nowadays, there are lots of ways that a SF could have a child.
A.
Carolyn Hax :

"Sperm and egg" then. That does cover it all, right? At least for now?

– February 08, 2013 3:19 PM
Q.

Car Seat Judgment

Just make sure you are making a clear distinction between recommendations and the actual laws where you live. Every field trip for our school turned into an argument about laws that do not exist in our state. And be willing to live with the legal minimum in an emergency. If Bobby is 9 and weighs 59 1/2 pounds, Granny can pick him up from school once without the booster.
A.
Carolyn Hax :

Yes, the laws and their variations do add a fun twist to this--as well as a way to end the conversation, you're right, thanks. 

– February 08, 2013 3:20 PM
Q.

texting

arggh. this is why women (and, as a woman, I can say this) make me crazy sometimes. If he texts you, and you are communicating, why not just return a text with a call instead of a text? phones work both ways, and being active is so much better than stewing or getting all passive aggressive. I did this once, and he didn't answer, so I left a vm, and he texted back a little later. it amused me more than anything, but things didn't work out for reasons otehr than text vs. phone call communication preferences.
A.
Carolyn Hax :

Your answer makes more sense than my answer, even though I'm not sure even women can roll their eyes at all women. Thanks.

– February 08, 2013 3:22 PM
Q.

re jim and dave

Being "a tool about it" includes going along with it, while painting you as the shrewish mean-mommy girlfriend who won't let him have his guy fun. (Watch a few beer commercials and you'll see what I mean.)
A.
Carolyn Hax :

Yes, seen them. Thanks.

– February 08, 2013 3:24 PM
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