Remarkably high standards: Carolyn Hax Live (Friday, February 21)

Feb 21, 2014

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 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.

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Hax Philes discussions

Oh hi! Nice to see you.

A round of applause for Jess, for so ably running the asylum last Friday. clapclapclapclapclapclapclap

Among my dad's constellation of mental health issues, the most neglected problem is his food addiction. He makes little attempt to control his food intake, and is now diabetic and takes insulin injections. I don't think he'll see 60, and certainly not with all his limbs intact. For the most part I leave him alone about it, because he is stubborn and has an intense need to be right. But when he comes to my house (one state over) and we send him food for the road, or some of our excessive leftovers, he always asks for dessert to go with it. I don't have any qualms with sending him meal-type foods, because I can't control his portions of things he needs to eat anyway. But for desserts, the correct portion for him is ZERO. Is there a way I can politely refuse to give him dessert, both for the road and generally? I feel bad depriving my step-mom and younger brother just for his sake, but he can't be trusted not to eat it once it's at their house. Am I right to say no, or should I mind my own business?

So if we're conservative, we can estimate that he has dessert every day--365 desserts a year. Someone who doesn't attempt to control his food intake probably has two desserts a day, for 730 desserts a year.

Split the difference just to make it all sound more scientific and we're talking in the neighborhood of 550 desserts a year.

Your anguished and principled stand would drop that number to 549.

I understand that anguish, completely, and sympathize with your basic need not to be the one handing him the poison he's using to kill himself. And if you decide that need is paramount, then I suggest you be exactly that honest about it when he asks you for dessert: "Dad, I know I can't control what you eat, but I draw the line at handing you the poison you're using to kill yourself."

If you decide that need is not paramount, and you'd rather approach this as a pragmatist--i.e., he's an adult and you're not going to change him--then put that 550th dessert in perspective as you pack it up.  

BTW--you're not "depriving" your stepmother and younger brother of anything meaningful if you opt for Door No. 1. That's a red herring. 

Hello, I'm the person who asked about the proposal contest a few weeks ago. I proposed and she said yes, but we skipped the contest, there wasn't enough time to enter. The thing now is I still have to tell my family, which I'm less excited about. I'm planning on calling home tonight and am hoping that it won't go too badly. Is there any advice that can be given?

Not really, not unless I know why "go too badly" is even on the table. Care to elaborate? Thanks--and congratulations.

Dear Hax, Love your chats! I'm writing because I disagree with the advice you gave that said, "Learn which you value more, the person or the place." I disagree. I have spent the last 6 years of my relationship making it work in a place I don't want to be for my boyfriend. A few months ago, he broke up with me. I am now stuck in a place I hate in a job I don't like because I THOUGHT I valued the person more than the place. In the future, I think better advice would be to value the place, because people in your life are fleeting. I think this is the only time I felt that you got it wrong.

Oh boy I'm wrong a lot more than that.

But I don't think so here. I mean, your one experience is The Last Word?

Don't form an entire worldview out of a single derailed relationship. And definitely don't grind it into a lens through which you view every person, every relationship, and every decision you make from within a relationship. That's just unfair, and myopic. It's one piece of information in a library of experiential knowledge; use it accordingly.

 

 

This seems easy: just don't make a dessert. You probably wouldn't if you weren't having company, right? Seems bizarre to make a dessert and then get angsty when he eats the dessert, which you made.

Oh duh, thanks.

Help! Friend A is getting married. I know that friend B is not going to be invited. Friend B does not, and thinks an invitation is coming. This is going to cause chaos and I think I will probably wind up stuck in the middle. What do I do?

Why chaos? I can see hurt feelings, but A and B can be adult about it, presumably, and if they can't, then loyalty to one or the other might be misplaced. 

As for what you do, my first instinct is to advise that you do nothing, unless B is buying plane tickets or otherwise making plans that could become expensive to undo.

Second instinct: If you're close to B, then you just speak up--but, again, then I'm not sure where the chaos comes in, unless ...

Third instinct: ... unless A is ostensibly close to B, in which case, if you'r close to A, you need to be the friend who says WT[H]? about the exclusion. 

Ugh.

But, really, if you're not particularly close to A or B, then you just bite your tongue and duck. That's the time-honored way to stay out of middles of all kinds.

Maybe the OP would like to educate themselves on diabetic diets so he/she can truly help dad. When I sat down to learn about my dad's condition, I learned that sugar isn't just a strict no-no. What is most important is eating a very consistent number of carbs (a specify number from your dad's doctor) throughout the day. On the day my dad wants dessert, he figures it into his carb count and sees where it will fit as one of his snacks or alters his meal to be less carbs to accommodate it. Either way, if you come from an educated place, you are better able to communicate with your dad on what is best for him.

This works only if the person with diabetes is both planning and sticking to said plan, but there's no down side to being educated. Thanks. 

OP here. I've been a fan recently of the principled stand, although I recognize it's more for my sake than dad's. The reason I most often hold back is that I'm afraid of doing *more* damage to a person dealing with just about every kind of problem a person can have (physical, psychological, financial, marital, etc.). Can the principled stand be useful for showing I care, or am I introducing yet another problem?

Given this, the just-don't-make-or-serve-dessert plan makes even more sense. Or, combine that advice with the get-educated advice and prepare things that are appropriate to serve to someone with diabetes. 

In other words, show you care through choices that allow you to bypass altogether the choice between meddling vs. enabling. 

I have been with a wonderful, kind 50-year-old professional man for 2+ years. He moved in with my daughters and I a few months ago, and I now realize that he has an obsessive gum chewing habit. He chews every waking moment, unless he's eating or being intimate. His mouth will be open unless I say something to him. Now even seeing him chew with his mouth closed is a huge turnoff. I've brought it up at least four times now, but the best resultbis he chews with a closed mouth for a while. My most recent comment was that if I walked around with my finger in my nose constantly, wouldn't he tell me. He said yes, but an hour later I had to stare across the tennis court at his open-mouthed chomping. Help! I'm nearly completely repulsed at this point.

If you're to the point where it's you or the gum--as it apparently is--then just say so.

Carolyn--sometimes I read your column and it strikes me that you hold romantic relationships to a remarkably high standard--standards that it almost seems like almost no one could meet. I'm in my mid-thirties and have never had a relationship without some of the "red flags" you've described. I'm beginning to panic about never meeting anyone (I'm in therapy for that). Do I really just keep waiting for a relationship without any red flags? At some point, doesn't that become unrealistic?

What are the red flags you've run across personally? How have things turned out? Are there common denominators?

My lone standard for relationships, romantic and platonic, is that you both feel safe enough together to be your honest selves. That to me defines a close and healthy bond (which doesn't rule out having things you don't like about each other, or enduring periods where you annoy the hell out of each other). These relationships will look different for different people, just because we all have different ideas of safety and comfort.

Certainly you're going to have relationships that don't meet that standard, tons of them, from acquaintances to colleagues to romances that fizzle, and that's part of the landscape. It's just not a good idea to force these less-than relationships to serve beyond their capacity just because you have good reasons for wanting more out of them.

Something else to keep in mind: I don't set aside all this column and chat time to pick apart happy couples. People write to me to decribe relationships that -aren't- working, so the people who meet my "remarkably high standard" aren't all that rare; they just don't turn up here too often.

I should say, AS often.

I'm always so interested in these types of situations. I'm not placing blame, just genuinely curious - was the extent (and style?) of his gum chewing more tolerable before and he started chewing gum more often and more unattractively after he moved in? Did he chew gum "every waking moment" before he moved in and it just didn't bother you?

I wondered that, too. OP, you there?

Dear Carolyn, My husband and I have been married for 4 years, we both work, and we are excited to start a family soon. My husband loves his career and it is probably the biggest element of his identity. I like my job, but now that we are planning for children, I am finding that I would really like to be able to stay home for a few years. My husband has made it clear that he doesn't like this idea. We have a few friends who have moved to this lifestyle (single income, mom staying home with the baby) and he has admitted he does not have much respect for it. He has begun to see our female friends who stay home with their kids as "one-dimensional." He also seems to think the stay-at-home parent does not contribute equally to the household. As he pointed out when we recently visited another couple over the weekend, "[husband] is just as involved with the kids as [wife] is, so why does [wife] get to call parenting her career while [husband] has to go to an office 5 days a week?" So, what do I do if this is really something important to me? I have no intention of leaving my husband, but I am feeling helpless about the prospect of convincing him this is a good idea. I don't agree with his criticisms of stay-at-home parents, but I worry that whatever we experience when we have kids will validate his opinion. This feels very no-win to me. What do you think?

"[husband] is just as involved with the kids as [wife] is, so why does [wife] get to call parenting her career while [husband] has to go to an office 5 days a week?"

I find your husband's view flat-out offensive. I have no horse in this race, either--my husband was a stay-at-home dad for our kids' first 3.5 years, and we also used some day care at the time (three kids under 2, we called in the cavalry), and we also have both worked full time since our youngest was 2, so I'm in a good position not to feel defensive about any one choice. 

Kids who are home full-time with parents have some advantages. Kids who go to (high-quality) day care have some advantages. Not all at-home parents are the same, nor are all day cares, nor are all kids. You find the combination that works for your home, your budget, your personalities, your talents, your careers, and your kids' natures, and if there are two parents involved, most of all you -back each other- in your choices. And you keep an open mind to any changing needs that present themselves, since chidren and families are dynamic, not fixed. And ideally, over time, you develop the sense not to judge how other people run their families, unless it's plainly hurting the kids.

Someone who spends 40-plus hours per week at an office is NOT "just as involved with the kids." [Husband] is not less of a parent than [wife], but less involved, absolutely. If these were partners in a business venture and one partner worked 40-plus hours less per week on the business, he'd have no trouble declaring that partner "less involved." But there's no ax to grind in that example, is there.

There's also the judging of worth to flag here. Why isn't it his finding an identity in his work that makes him "one-dimensional," vs. parents, who arguably have to come up with a different kind of expertise about six times a day when home with kids? Again--I think it depends on the people. There are drop-dead boring at-home parents and drop-dead boring office drones. Whatever. Duh. Why is he so invested in being right about a (heh) one-dimensional view?

And I find it particularly galling that he'd make a declaration about another family's mechanics after a -weekend visit.- How smug can he get.

I realize you want my advice and not my opinion of your husband, but to advise you without all the disclosure would be dishonest. I think you need to call him out on every bit of closed mindedness he just displayed. Or, read him my answer, declare me a biase, judgmental jerk and start a conversation of substance about what you want and feel and believe and whether there's any room in his opinion for other ideas. 

(BTW--often all it takes for an at-work parent to appreciate an at-home parent is for at-work parent to be on duty alone for consecutive days. But I don't advise counting on that and forging ahead with your plan to have kids and stay home--this is just an information-only notation.)

(BTW2--contributions to family are also dynamic, so the value of someone at home and/or at work also changes over time. A choice that carries the whole show when the kids are X years old can be essentially coasting when they're Y years old. That balance, too, is dynamic and needs tweaking over the years--as in, two people committed to and respectful of each other, the marriage and the family.)

 

 

Sorry that took forever. I kept going back in to add things. 

Thanks for taking my question. One of the red flags I've seen a few times is partners not really confronting their own issues head on (for example, mental illness, even if relatively mild). Some of your columns have seemed to suggest that being with a partner who doesn't face up to his or her own issues is a recipe for a more difficult life than necessary--which makes sense to me. But that's a standard above and beyond "being able to be your honest self," no?

Not really. Your honest self includes your flaws--in fact, it's especially important with flaws. If you're not to a point where you can admit your frailties, then, bingo: "a more difficult life than necessary." So many miseries trace back to a partner's unwillingness to admit fault. It's annoying here and there, but over decades it's Sisyphean.

For many people, getting to the point where you can tick off your less-than-charming traits is merely a matter of time. Proof of this is in the recurring themes around reunions: The later ones (20th and on) are often a revelation, because people are over trying to present themselves as perfect. So, it's not so much an unrealistic standard I'm advising but unrealistic patience, to wait till you and your prospective partner are over yourselves enough to be full and humble participants in a marriage. That in turn will allow you to see each other for who you are, vs the fronts you're trying to maintain, and also to drop your dukes and do what's necessary to get along--like seek treatment for that relatively mild mental illness that's making things tough for everyone at home. 

 

Not that it excuses the husband's dismissiveness, but I have the feeling that what he's *really* reacting to is his wife's efforts to shift their 'contract' from one where they are partners, to one where he's the so-called 'provider'. If he feels scared, pressured or overwhelmed by that, though, he obviously needs to say so, rather than going on a spree of unsolicited Public Service Announcements bashing Stay-at-Home-Parents.

That's possible, yes, and yes, if true he needs to admit it.

I would argue, though, that it's not so much shifting the contract as enforcing it fully. To be a partner in marriage is to accept that change is inevitable over the course of a lifetime. 

The first four... years... I attended this chat, I was in a bad relationship. With pretty much every red flag Hax points to. Now I'm in a great relationship. There are no red flags. My standards aren't high - you could really just sum them up as "I deserve better than a dillweed."

Cross-stitch that, somebody, please.

Thank you Carolyn for that wonderful answer! You hit every point that rubbed me wrong from OP's husband. One thing I would add for OP is child care is so expensive. Whether it is at a day care facility, in home day care, having a nanny, au pair, etc. I sometimes feel that I am only working full time to pay for my child care cost. You could present that to him when you sit down and talk.

Yes, but as more information, vs. an argument for one choice or another.  The cost-benefit analysis is simple only if the work is strictly for money (vs. career track, temperament, example for children, etc), and strictly for now (vs. social security, potential future earnings, etc).

My girlfriends seem to fall into two camps - (1) those that will only enter into a romantic relationship if it's "right", don't actively seek one out and focus on spending their time doing things they enjoy, and (2) those that want to be in a relationship and are actively seeking one (and also have hobbies/interests they enjoy in and of themselves). Both approaches are fine in my mind, but it's important to want a happy relationship rather than just a relationship, which I think requires acceptance of the possibility that you won't find one, or that it may take longer than one would like. And being able to be happy without one.

I do think "actively seeking" disposes one to look past some things or rationalize them away--but that's only a problem if the expectations of marriage don't reflect that compromise. The classic example is of arranged marriages, where people in them report higher satisfaction with them, and also bring to these marriages a full buy-in to the idea that it won't be perfect. 

My little cousin is isexually active. When she spends time with me we talk about the importance of protection. I've asked her if she is on or plans to go on birth control (bc). She says he mom dodges the topic and gives her a list of reasons why it is a bad idea. I offhandedly told her that she doesn't need her mom she can get them herself. I wanted to swallow the words once they came out because her mother trusts me and I wouldn't want jeopardize our relationship if she caught her with bc against her wishes. I'm just not sure how to handle this situation. Do I talk to her mother, if so what do I say? Or do I just let it go and continue to keep tabs on my cousin as I have been?

What?!

What's more important, perserving your relationship with the mother or helping your "little cousin" not conceive an unwanted child? 

Talk to the mother, absolutely. Say you're going to bring Little Cousin to a clinic. Yes, it might cost you dearly in your relationship with the mother, but if we're tracing responsibility for that to anyone, it starts with the mother's complete abdication of responsibility for her sexually active daughter.  

Hi! I missed the chat for V-Day, and search is failing me. Any chance of getting a link to the transcript? Thanks!

At the risk of seeming self-promoting: http://live.washingtonpost.com/carolyn-hax-live-140214.html

Then let me promote! Here.

One thing that I think non-parents often don't realize, and you raise this in your response, is raising a child and childcare is a constantly evolving process for everyone involved. What makes sense one month, won't make sense the next for a whole host of reasons. Maybe she needs to get husband to keep a more open mind, and ask him just to be ready to have the constant conversation about what makes sense for the family. I was a SAHM for a year when my kids were little and hated it. Fast forward a couple years, I stayed home for a year and had a blast, and although it had big financial impact and my husband often felt overwhelmed by the responsibility of supporting the family, neither of us would trade the experience for the world. The more the couple realizes that nothing is constant in the world of parenting (hello nanny who quit on a random Tuesday anyone??), the less pressure she will feel to resolve the issue right now.

Yes, ongoing conversation, subject to reopening at any time ("constant" would wear me out). But that has to be paired with a belief in the importance of -not judging-! And not assuming one's own way is the ONLY right way. If that part isn't in place, then no amount of talking and re-talking will help. 

There's never a guarantee a relationship will work out, even with the best intentions from both parties. When I moved for my boyfriend (now husband) I knew that I loved the place I was leaving behind, knew I make new friends slowly and knew this would slow down my career. I told myself going in that I'd have to own this decision even if we didn't go the distance. If you can't face that option -don't move. Also, if I had made him responsible for my happiness the first year after I moved, the relationship wouldn't have made it. He knew it was a big sacrifice for me and was grateful I had made it, but it was my decision. (Appologies for any spelling mistakes, typing this with baby in one arm. Sometimes things do work out.)

So much good stuff here, thanks.

Dear Carolyn: I've been having some personal issues at home affect me tremendously (e.g. marriage on the brink of divorce, kids not doing well in school, house crumbling around us, totally broke). I have been VERY depressed and have finally realized that it is too much for me to bear. I have looked up a therapist online and think I found one (just haven't gotten up the nerve to make the appointment). The problem is my job--I have been seriously slacking off. I usually just come to work and surf the internet. I get my assignments done just not with the speed and (probably) accuracy that I used to. I just cannot concentrate. I think my supervisor has noticed but she hasn't said anything to me. I've always prided myself on being a good worker (got a raise and promotion after 2 years). Should I meet with my supervisor to let her know what's going on? How in depth do I go when I tell what problems I'm having personally? (She is not someone I am particularly close to.) Is it even appropriate to tell her, or should I just get back to doing good work? Our annual review is in April and I need a good one. FWIW I dislike this job and am actively looking for a new one so I'd like to leave here with some good recommendations.

I'm so sorry you're in a hole. Please call to make the appointment--right now. Let me know you have. I'll wait.

Hi Carolyn, is it okay to work your butt off during high school and college, get a great job, make good enough money, and then just coast off that? I'm happy, but I feel a little lazy, too. I'm not motivated to make any more money since I'm comfortable, and the way my company is set up, there's nowhere to be promoted. My MO has always been to push myself like crazy and now that I don't have to anymore, it feels like I'm cheating somehow. I realize this is a bit of a philosophical as opposed to practical problem, but would love your input. Thanks! And happy hockey watching :)

I'd respond to the hockey but won't be a spoiler to the DVR crowd.

Why not turn your motivation toward something outside of work? I'd like to be agnostic on coasting, but people seem to do much better with a passion. It doesn't have to be a passion for work, though; culturally I think we're more sold on that than is good for us anyway. It also doesn't have to be an instant decision, an, "I love to do X!" followed by signing up for X this weekend. If anything, achievers need a little time to figure out what internal things drive them, as opposed to all those years of external goals. So give yourself that time, look around, see where your interests, talents and free hours align.  

Your cousin talks to you because she can't talk to her mom! It's hard for kids and parents to discuss sexuality but we have to go there. If my daughter ever decides she just can't talk to me, I hope and pray she will talk to one of her aunts or older cousins. Please take Carolyn's advice - you know she's right.

Great point about the someone else to talk to, thanks.

Hi Carolyn, Thanks for taking my question. This morning on my way to work I came to an intersection in which a woman had been a victim of a hit and run a couple of hours earlier. The police had cordoned off the intersection and had covered the woman with a tarp. Her boots were still visible and I haven't been able to get them out of my head. I'm not sure why, but I've been deeply disturbed by this sight; I only saw the body for a few seconds. I can't concentrate at work; I just keep hitting refresh on my browser to see if they've identified the woman. The woman was crossing at an intersection I cross frequently and it has always made me nervous. Not sure if there's a question except, is this a normal reaction?

Normal, yes--I'm sorry. What a terrible thing to witness. 

She should contact her HR department for information on their Employee Assistance Program. Many times they have a 800 number available to call that can schedule you with a counselor in your area; some programs will pay for the first 2 - 4 counseling sessions. I did it years ago when I had a coworker that was driving me crazy and was extremely manipulative. I had to learn tools to recognize what was going on; and defuse my response. I got 4 free visits; and it was so worth it. She does not need to talk to her supervisor at this stage; just contact HR and go from there. She needs to protect her job and address the depression.

An enthusiastic second to the EAP suggestion. Its quality does depend on the quality of the providers in the network, but the 800 number, the free initial sessions and the preselected list of caregivers do take a huge amount of stress out of the process.

Plus, if you still need help beyond the free session(s), that therapist is a good resource for other names. 

You may want to wait to talk with your boss until after a few meetings with the therapist. Also, if you can step up your work game now, do so. In a work situation, I think it's easier to talk about a rough spot when you already have evidence to indicate that you're back (or coming back) to your normal levels of productivity. Also: good luck with everything and please hang in there.

More good stuff, thanks.

I'm hoping this is just an endearing way of mentioning her not-too-much younger than 18 cousin. Obviously any sexually active person not wishing to get pregnant should be taking precautions, but I feel a lot different about it if the cousin is 16 versus 12. I also don't think it's clear the mom knows the cousin is having sex. I talked to my mom about it and got on birth control years before I became sexually active. That doesn't mean LW shouldn't talk to the mom, but it does mean it would need to be handled with a bit more grace than outing her cousin, who has trusted him/her.

Yes, correct--I thought it was clear that the mother knew, but if she doesn't know or if it's unclear, then discretion is a must.

I am 35 and have been in a relationship with my current boyfriend (who is 31) for the past year and a half. We have lived together for a year, and although we love each other a great deal, he is not ready to make a commitment to marry. I feel as though I have limited time available if I want to have children, but I do feel comfortable waiting a few more years. Recently, a job opportunity has come up in another city and I have considered moving. My boyfriend has decided that he isn't ready to make the commitment to move to another city with me, even though his career is in flux and he would like to find a different job. If he isn't willing to commit to moving, is it worth continuing the relationship at all? He is obviously not ready to start a family, and also has some hesitation regarding our long-term compatibility and would like more time to come to a decision. (It's worth noting that we've dated previously once before for 6 months, but had to end it due to long distance while he was in the Peace Corps.) It breaks my heart to think of being without him, but how long can I wait for him to be ready? Is his indecision a decision of its own?

Maybe this is one of those cases where I have impossible standards, but I think a year and a half at this age is plenty to tell a person whether he just wants to be with you or not. 

My advice is to make the decision on the job/move based solely on the merits, for you and your career, of the job/move. If you opt for the move and your boyfriend later decides he was wrong to let you go, then he can always move to join you--that is, if you agree that getting back together is a good thing.

Stay put for your own reasons, sure. But "wait"? No. Not unless you're so sure about him (and so confident in his reasons for hesitating) that it makes perfect sense for you to give him more time. 

I used to think the same thing about myself. Now I think of it as a CHOICE I made about my quality of life and work-life balance. I leave the office every day at 5pm, and don't give it another thought until the next day at 8am. That leaves me time for what I find fulfilling and important - spending time with husband and dog, going out with friends, taking on a regular volunteer commitment, doing sports. When I finally let go of my old expectations for myself, being comfortable and happy is alot more fun that always trying to achieve that next illusive thing.

Hear, hear.

I love my life, generally speaking. I have a high-paying job that is secure and that I can do well in, I have 3 little ones I love to death, I have a great husband. But my passion? I guess my passion is keeping all the balls in the air. Is that enough? It feels like it is, most days, but now that I see you answer to coasting, I wonder.

Raising the littles sounds like more than enough to check the "passion" box. It may not feel like one, but to me "passion" is the thing you push aside other things to get to, and devote great mental energy to doing well. 

You say this intersection has always made you nervous. Is it dangerous. Can you channel some of that energy into getting that intersection to be safer?

Certainly a letter to the local authority is in order--and can help with the sense of powerlessness. Thanks. 

Just a thought from my experience if it helps. My wife and I had numerous conversations when my son was born about her staying at home vs. going back to work. It's a lot of stress for both parents. My wife in the beginning was like "this might be what I have to do, so figure out how to make it work", which put a lot of pressure on me to figure out how to maintain our lifestyle with only one income. I pointed out this wasn't any more fair than me demanding she keep working, the light bulb went on and she realized it. That's why honest conversation is always the key. In the first two months, she was dead set on staying home, but after four months she decided to go back to work after six total months at home with our son. So, as another poster said, it's an evolving landscape. P.S. the OP's husband was acting like a world-class jerk. I'm wondering if that's a problem in other areas.

And a fine thought it is, big thanks for sharing it.

I had this feeling when I had my quarter-life crisis at 25. I was a high achiever all through school and got a job in my field-- then realized I hated it. I had wanted to be a famous journalist like Barbara Walters, but then I realized that, wait, no, I *didn't* want that. I wanted a 9-5 where I made enough money to live well and then I wanted to do all the things I loved in my off-time. I'm happy to report that 8 years later, it's worked out perfectly. I have a pretty cool job that allows me time to do all the other things I want to do-- bake, explore my city, read, take classes that interest me, see concerts and comedians, etc. etc. I look at people who spend all their waking hours at their jobs and yes, while it would be nice to walk into work with a new designer handbag every other day, I'd rather carry my old one out the door at 5 p.m. and not take any work home in it.

I like this, 'cept for the implication that the "all their waking hours" people are in it for the handbags. There can be good reasons, too, and life-changing or -saving outcomes--so I hope I read into it wrong.  

 

 

I turned on the oven to pre-heat and then came to lie down on my bed. My dog came to join me and is now sleeping sweetly across my lap. I'm happy reading your chat on my iPad. Do I have to get up to turn off the oven?

It's fine to wait till you have to go to the bathroom. 

I really dislike the notion that people, especially women, who want to be in a relationship should not "actively seek" a relationship and instead just let the right man find her. What's wrong with doing everything you can to find a compatible partner? You don't look for a job by waiting for fate to tap you on the shoulder. You dust off your resume, scour postings, and interview. Why is relationship-seeking any different? Why is a woman seeking a partner "desperate" while an active job seeker is a "go-getter"?

Relationship-seeking is completely different because a committed life partnership is not a job. Not even close. 

But that's beside the point: No one here is saying the things you're saying we're saying. What's up?

3:09--that will have to be a rhetorical question. Thanks everyone, bye, have a great weekend, type to you here next week. 

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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 New England with her husband and their three boys.

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