Pity the pearls: Carolyn Hax Live (Friday, February 28)

Feb 28, 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.

Carolyn's Recent Columns

Past Carolyn Hax Discussions

Way Past Carolyn Hax Live Discussions

Hax Philes discussions

Hi everybody.

...for giving her the clap at the beginning of last week's chat. Now she has to figure out if/when to tell her other colleagues about getting the clap from you. You really should be more responsible, Ms. Hax.

Oh? And how about you, with the outing and shaming?

I had been with someone for a little while, maybe six months, when in response to a comment of mine he said "That comes up a lot - you don't want to scare me off, you're afraid I'm going to run screaming. Can we unpack that a little? What's going on there?" And it caused me to do a lot of thinking about how we, girls and young women, are conditioned to think of ourselves and approach relationships. The received wisdom (granted, from popular culture, which is not exactly a reliable narrator EVER) is: When he leaves you - and he will - it will be because of something you did. What kind of message is that?! We deserve to expect better, and nice guys (note: not Nice Guys TM; I mean genuinely good people) deserve more credit than to have us assume that they're going to break our hearts because That's What They Do.

Yes, the whole "keep a man" conceit, which is indeed vile. It's a close neighbor of the "why buy the cow" howler that I've been howling about for years. (And yet still have intoned to me, without irony, by readers responding to my columns.)

To be sure, cultural norms find a way to box in both men and women alike, but you've hit one that's particularly corrosive to the image of women, both self- and public. Thanks.

I was wondering why it was such a struggle to read questions today when I realized I didn't have my glasses on.

Just sharing this to reassure you that your problems are in good hands.

Hi Carolyn. I've written and re-written this entry. I can't stop compulsively eating at work (where a lot of unhealthy snacks are free) and at home. Eating makes me happy (though fleetingly so). I have no self-control when it comes to putting food in my mouth, especially anything involving carbs and sugar. The worst/best part? Last year I made a major career change and my new path is off to a fantastic start. I use my great work situation as an excuse to let my guard down when it comes to my eating habits. Though, if I'm being completely honest, I'm just effing tired of constantly thinking about my weight and my eating (as I've done since puberty). Eating provides quick bursts of happiness. Whenever I try to amend my diet (not even to restrict calories, just to restrict empty calories), I feel terrible! Maybe not physically but certainly mentally. Saying no to snacks is like forcing myself to suffer. I know that sounds irrational but that's how my brain interprets it. I don't even know what I'm asking you here. I guess: how do I stop using my professional success as an excuse to not pay attention to my shi**y diet and the fact that my weight has spiraled out of control. Literally every time I put something in my mouth, in an effort to avoid self-hate I just think "who cares if I'm fat, I'm a hard worker and that's what matters in life!"

I suspect you'd benefit greatly from a program that draws on group support--Overeaters Anonymous and Weight Watchers are two but certainly not the only options. Having someone to help you feel less alone, root for you and take your call when you're feeling tempted or lousy would be an important piece that you seem to be missing. You do, after all, have the awareness of the problem and presumably the nutritional knowledge to make better choices--now it's just a matter of willpower and rewiring your rewards system, and both are causes that a good support network can advance.

Even though I have a great job where I earn more than I need, I still love to give handmade gifts with the considerable skills that I have. One gift I particularly enjoy giving is a crocheted baby blanket. The recipients are almost always overjoyed to receive this gift. I've even had a few overly enthusiastic friends/relatives make it known that they would love such a gift if/when they have kids. However, I the last time I gave one of these as a gift, I overheard a relative of the mom-to-be, who knows my line of work, call me cheap because I only gave "one measly blanket and a few trinkets" when I "could have afforded to buy something more useful off the registry". I was rather flabbergasted. I put a lot of love and love into these gifts. I thought that is what counted. Is this what most people think when I give that standard gift, but they are too polite to voice it or was this person off base?

I see this person as an outlying idiot (I'll let everyone else be "too polite"), but I'll throw it to the nuterati. 

I speak only for myself, obviously, but I see a handmade gift as not only more valuable given the devaluing of "stuff" in the big-box era, but also as a potential heirloom. I saved very little from my kids' baby years, but everything made for them by hand has been boxed up to be handed down to them when they're grown.


Just wanted to point out that next week is an awareness week for eating disorders. While anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa get most of the media attention, binge eating disorder has recently been classified as an eating disorder in the DSM-V. I'd encourage the poster to seek professional help and not simply a date if her eating is compulsive, as she states.

Seconded, thanks.

Actively Pursuing Relationships v. Letting Things Happen Naturally. CH, you seem like a big advocate for the latter, which I agree is the ideal. But surely there is a happy medium between desperately seeking someone, anyone and leaving it all up to fate. You smacked down the comparison to job-hunting, which I agree is not a perfect one, but I think that poster had a point -- what's wrong with actively looking for a partner? Historically I've taken the "it'll happen when you least expect it" advice very much to heart, and frankly, I'm pretty lonely.

Thanks for reopening the topic.

I chose my words very carefully last week: I think actively looking comes with a risk of rationalizing--and I don't mean it's just applicable to dating. Anytime you focus in on one thing that you're looking for, you're more likely to decide on something that's less than you hoped for than to keep waiting for the right thing. To give a less charged example than dating, let's say you're shopping for a black jacket for work. Or an apartment. Whatever. 

If you undertake that search with no sense of urgency, then, sure, you can try on 20 black jackets or walk through 20 apartments and you'll still be able to say, "Nah--nothing's quite right, I'll try again next week." And you'll be able to see 20 apartments next week and try on 20 jackets all over again and walk away empty handed of nothing makes you think, "Wow."

But if you show up already fed up to ^ here with your roommates and being (to your mind) too old to be stuck in a glorified dorm, or if you're So Sick of everything in your closet and you hate shopping or if you're mad at yourself for going up a size or etc., then you're in a state of mind that leaves you vulnerable to saying "yes" to something that isn't exactly what you wanted.

I don't think anyone is immune to this. I do think--back to last week--that if you're mindful of this risk, and/or if your expectations aren't overly romanticized, then there's nothing wrong with actively looking. There's no such thing as life without risk, we just need to assume risks that make sense with our personalities and histories. Someone who is susceptible to impulsive, need-filling decisions s/he later regrets is not a great candidate for active looking, but someone who is patient and self-aware is.


There's also the in-between that hasn't even come up: Active circulating, vs active looking or passive waiting. It's putting yourself deliberately in places where you're likely to meet people who share your interests--even if it's just a way to form friendships that will expand your opportunities to meet potential mates. That can solve both problems at once, the waiting-for-your-life-to-drop-in-your-lap problem and the I've-made-up-my-mind-to-marry-and-s/he'll-suffice problem. But, again, it's such a personal thing that waiting, looking and circulating can all be just the right thing, depending on the person AND the person's stage of life. 

Some time ago, I decided to teach myself to crochet. One of my first projects was to make a blanket for my then-5 year old daughter. It's, well, odd. The stitches are wonky sizes, the colors don't quite match, the size is weird, and it took FOREVER for my limited skills to finish. This daughter is turning 16 in a few days. Recently, we had a big blow-out fight about, heck, I don't even remember what. Clothes, grades, boys, one of those things moms and daughters fight about. I finally ended the argument by saying that I was going for a walk and we could both just cool down. When I got back, she was sitting with a mug of cocoa, wrapped up in that blanket. She said to me "when we fight, I like curling up in this blanket and thinking about whatever we're fighting about and what we can do to get past it. This blanket...you MADE it for me. So whenever we fight, I have something to curl up in to remind me that no matter what it is, you love me enough that you MADE this. And it'll be okay, and you will always love me." Keep making and giving your blankets. It's so much more meaningful than any diaper genie could ever be, and, some day, it may be exactly what the recipient needs to get through a rough patch.

Cheez. You made me cry. Totally blindsided.

A friend of mine crocheted a gorgeous baby blanket for my granddaughter. At the shower, it turned out she got about 4-5 hand-made blankets, all gorgeous. The saddest thing, however, is that current wisdom is "no blankets for baby" and I don't think any of them have been used. Certainly I have never seen my friend's blanket in use. I wish I could have it back.

Yikes. I used them for the stroller, not the crib, fwiw. Thanks for weighing in.

Sorry guys, slight technical difficulties. Hang tight.

Although if the responses that just came in are any indication, you're all too busy crying over the blanket story to have noticed.

Sorry everybody, my broadband just fainted. Seems to be back up now, so, where was I ...

Hi Carolyn. Last friday, you said this during the chat: "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)." Is there a reason you singled out romantic and platonic but not familial? Seems like the same standard would apply. My latests observations/musings about family (my own and others) is that the #1 reason so much dysfunction tends to persist is because people believe "sharing blood" minimizes or even dismisses the very important work (like committing to seeing and accepting relatives as they are as opposed to what you want them to be) required to actually make those relationships functional and loving. And i don't see that "work" as a negative thing...just a thing. I'd welcome your thoughts on this.

No, there's no reason to exclude familial. I was just listing relationships of choice, but relationships of birth fall under the same standard of health, thanks.

Don't worry about the outlying idiot, with one exception. If you happen to know that the mother-to-be is financially strapped AND you can afford it AND your relationship is close enough, please consider giving some of the more expensive, necessary items as gifts (car seats, diapers, a week of meal service, etc.). You are not obligated and the crocheted baby blanket is a treasure, of course. And if you want to do that, you don't have to do it at a shower, either.

Works for me, thanks.

The problem with the job-seeking analogy is that most people NEED a job in order to function in society. But you don't NEED a relationship. And while you may take a crappy job just to pay the bills and be unhappy, it's a choice between being unhappy in your job and being destitute and starving. When you get into a relationship because you feel you NEED one, you're unlikely to be happy, even if you meet a good match, because there's just too much unnecessary pressure. I think the issue here is that there is a difference between "actively seeking a relationship" and "putting yourself out there." You can put up an online dating profile (for example) with the mindset of increasing your pool of options, rather than with the mindset of "OMG, must get significant other, any significant other!" I guess the difference is expecting a relationship to fill a hole in your life, which may be artificially generated, versus seeing if there's someone out there who could add to your already good life.

Well said, thanks.

Hi Carolyn, I'm recently engaged after dating my ladyfriend for a few years. It's exciting and overwhelming and most days I feel I'm happy, or at least I should be. But I'm writing because I sent a woman (not my fiancee) flowers for Valentine's Day. She works in my office complex and we've become friendly through months of elevator run-ins, shared lunches and walks to the metro. I keep telling myself what I'm doing is friendly and not inappropriate, but I don't think I believe me any more than you probably do. For background, there was some pre-engagement infidelity on my part that my fiancee doesn't know about, but I believed that was out of my system and I was prepared for marriage. So my two questions are why am I doing this, and what is the right thing to tell my fiancee? Help me, please, before I really screw things up.

Why are you engaged--why this woman, why now? (And don't say "I love her," because that's meaningless without detail.)

What do you think marriage will do for you that the past years of dating haven't?

What do you get out of your interactions with the office-complex person?

The pre-engagement infidelity--how many times did you cheat, was it with more than one person, did you know the person(s)?

How do you define "prepared for marriage"?

If your fiancee had written this letter that she "should be" happy and is getting infidelity out of her system and buying a Valentine's Day gift for a guy in her office complex, what would you want me to advise her to do?

You have about 90 min to answer these in time for me to answer you in the chat.

Short answer, the "or at least I should be" [happy] + the very recent straying = you don't want to marry this person and you just don't want to face that, but I'd rather give you a more useful answer.

Dear Carolyn, Longtime disciple of your column and chats. Thanks for your clear-eyed, articulate wisdom! So, the story: My boyfriend of 2 years and I are pregnant with our first baby. This was unplanned, and we had both certainly intended to wait till marriage. But we're excited to be welcoming a baby boy in May. Custom in my boyfriend's family is to name the firstborn son after his father. My boyfriend himself is 4th to share the name with his paternal ancestors, and the name is beautiful, timeless and handsome, and I would love to give it to our son as a tie to his father. However, because we are not married, my boyfriend's parents have asked him NOT to use the name on this baby, but to reserve it for a baby born in wedlock. Yes, this is absolutely as outrageous as it sounds. The reason they state is that until we get married, they can't be sure my son will be a permanent part of their lives (they have the impression that the mother always wins out in custody battles).  In fairness, they are not insisting, just stating their strong preference as to how things should go.  We will probably get married someday...I'd like it to be soon after the baby is born, he's got a slightly more relaxed timeline. I still want to use the name, and feel it would be a great honor to my son to have it, but the fact that one of his namesakes doesn't approve kind of negates the honor. So, your clear-eyed wisdom? What would you do in this situation?

Do what's best for the baby. It's so much easier to decide things with that intention than it is to sort out what's right and wrong for you, for the dad, for his parents, for society, for the ancestors, for all else invested.

So, picture yourself explaining to your young son--toddler by then, probably--where he got his name. Which story do you want to tell him?


Up until now, my husband and I have made around the same amount of money. Soon, he will most likely be making more than three times as much as me. While this is great for us overall, I am a little worried about it will affect the dynamic of our relationship, particularly since my lesser paying job is a freelance/work from home type thing. Any tips for finding the balance between picking up the slack as he transitions into a more demanding role and not accidentally turning into a housewife?

What you're asking is actually a time question, not a money question. If you both keep putting equivalent time toward the greater good of the marriage--which includes childrearing if there are kids, earning money, doing household chores, talking to and listening to each other, enjoying shared experiences, maintaining ties with friends and family--then there's no reason your marriage dynamic should change as a result of his raise. It's strictly a matter of adjusting the division of labor to account for his more demanding job; you're taking over his share of the laundry because he's now at work 10 more hours a week, not because he's suddenly a more important person than you are. Keep your eye on that. Also, deal with conflicts as they come up vs. letting them metastasize into resentments. 

Carolyn-- My boyfriend and I have been together for two years. We don't live together. He and I have very different visions of time together in a relationship--in my previous serious relationships, I always spent 6-7 nights per week with my significant other, and he prefers to spend 3 or 4. To compound matters, he doesn't like to plan his time in advance, and I do. As a result, every week, when we talk about the coming week, I vascillate between not wanting to push him too hard to schedule things (given that he hates that) and feeling like if we don't schedule, I will spend even less time with him than I already do (and I already feel like I don't spend enough time with him). The whole process makes me feel weirdly insecure; I don't want to feel at his beck and call, but if I just go ahead and make my own plans, I DEFINITELY won't spend a lot of time with him. Any advice on how to navigate this?

Make your own plans. Maybe I'm reading more gloom into this than is really there, but if I were in your place, and if making my own plans meant not seeing my boyfriend much, and if my boyfriend weren't disappointed enough by my absence to be inspired to make an effort to see me (be it to make plans himself or stop whining about it when I did), then I'd be wondering why this boyfriend was my boyfriend.

I mean--you want someone who's happy to see you walk into the room, right? Who, when he's off doing his own thing without you for the third or fourth time that week, thinks, "I wish Girlfriend were here"?

I realize people have varying needs for closeness, but to meet the as-of-last-week official Hax standard of a relationship that doesn't suck, those needs should match well enough that whether you'll see each other this week is not an ongoing source of stress, conflict or insecurity.  

I started a new job two weeks ago and am not liking it so far. My old position is still available, and I know my former boss would be thrilled to have me back. I don't want to give myself short shrift with something that could turn out to be good. On the other hand; I don't like it here. How should I decide what to do. (Because I think it matters: part of the reason I left my old job was because management there was dysfunctional, and the day I started my new job, a management change was announced).

This is a better question for a career expert,* since a major concern here is hurting yourself professionally--but as an anti-misery don't-call-me-expert, going back to the old job is a no-brainer.

*Karla, you here?

If you give this son another name, what happens when you and your boyfriend marry and then have another son? Does that boy get the family name and (presumably) the honor, affection, etc. from your in-laws that they denied son #1? It's almost like labeling the child (pardon me) "b*****d" for life. If using the family name for the first son would cause too much strife, one solution might be to not use the family name at all, for any of your children. Or use a feminized version of it for your first daughter (assuming she is born after you're married).

I agree on the label issue. (Solution! Name him Simon Bar Sinister.)

I strongly disagree on the daughter idea. They either use it for this son or not at all. And I think they have to use it for the son if they meet these two citeria:

1. both parents like the name

2. both parents like the tradition. 

If they don't both answer "yes" to both, then problem solved and the name tradition becomes another family member's problem. 


Your future in-laws are way off base. What if you two were married and got divorced later--would they insist that the child's name be changed? Your boyfriend will ALWAYS be this child's father, no matter whether you and he marry or not. So on this subject, put them on the "pay me no attention" list, and name your son whatever you and your boyfriend want.

Way. I pity the pearls, all that aggressive clutching. Thanks.

Thanks, now I cried.....and guys aren't supposed to cry at work.

You own your cry, work dude. Got your back.

I don't know anything about your situation, but one thing I learned changing jobs earlier this year was that the transition is SO MUCH HARDER than you think it's going to be. To go from knowing everyone and everything and being really effective to knowing nothing and feeling like you can't contribute is upsetting. So make sure you're factoring that in. Things to think about that can help you decide whether to stick it out: Do you see the light at the end of the tunnel? Is this new job better for your career growth or provide better long term opportunities? Are there positions you could potentially transition to at new company that would be better for you? The answers to those types of questions will help you figure out if this is short term upheaval misery (short term can be multiple months, btw! I'm at 7 and just starting to see the light) or long term indicator of the wrong decision.

Right on all counts, tx

Hi, Carolyn. I have been at my job for less than a year. This department is very tight-knit, and everyone is very nice. One of my coworkers is in her (guessing here) late 50s/early 60s. Her dad recently passed away, and we've talked a lot since I started here about his Alzheimers and her struggles to care for him. Recently (before he passed away) I've started to get concerned that she may be displaying early signs of Alzheimers. She's having trouble remembering how to do things that she's been doing for a decade; she seems very flighty; and sometimes she just looks at me with a blank look on her face while I'm talking to her. I've tried to slow down - I know I talk too fast sometimes - but it doesn't seem to help. I don't know whether my knowledge of her father's Alzheimers is affecting my perception of her, whether she's always been flighty and I just didn't know about it because I'm new, or whether the struggle to care for her father in his last days was just taking her attention away from work and making her seem more flighty/forgetful. I don't know if I should do anything about my concerns, either - she has a large family (although she was the only one of her siblings to shoulder the burden of making decisions about their father) and many coworkers here who have known her a lot longer than I have - wouldn't they have noticed a cognitive change in her before me, someone who has known her a short period of time? Thanks for any advice you can give. I am hesitant to say anything to our mutual supervisor since it could influence how he views her work. Should I just give it some time and see if she seems less "off" down the road, when the ordeal of caring for her father and now grieving for him is passed?

Grief can make people forgetful, too. Plus, you're new. I'd leave it alone unless and until you have something major to report (at which point you talk to HR). There are a bucnh of good lists out there to help people in your position distinguish between normal forgetfulness and Alzheimer's symptoms. Here's one (link).

I am a 19 year old freshman in college. I have decided to lose my virginity soon, obviously in a safe way while using protection. My question is, is ok to not tell the guy I'm a virgin? It's come up before and it seems to bother guys, either because it won't be a good experience because I'm inexperienced or because I guess they think I'll get "clingy" to the guy who "takes" my virginity. I also hate the idea of someone knowing that they were my first, I (irrationally, I know) feel like it gives them power over me. I don't have a partner right now, but I'm sort of want to get this over with in a sort of one-night-stand kind of way. Thank you!

You don't have to tell, but you don't have to "get this over with," either. In a way, both waiting and one-night-standing it give your virginity more power than you seem to want it to have. Both make it into an entity that Must Be Dealt With. If instead you just go about your life and it happens when it happens, then I think it'll occupy a place in your psyche that sits better with you. Just a hunch. 

I'm a bisexual woman who has a huge crush on her best friend. She's seeing someone and has been for a very long time. But she constantly complains about this guy and really doesn't seem to like him very much. It's all how he's lazy, little kind of glassbowlish things he's done that don't sound so kind to my friend (but aren't massive Red Flags A-Flappin', either), etc. My honest sense is that it's inertia: it's a long-term relationship, no one's planning on leaving, it's not too bad, that's better than the unknown. Etc. You've probably guessed my problem: the part of me that won't stop yelling YOU SHOULD DATE ME INSTEAD. I know she's also bi, so a little part of me is convinced that someday she'll hear how much complaining she does about Guy and fall into my arms. How can I remind myself that real life is not This Winter's Hilarious Gay Romcom?

By saying out loud, "I can't listen to you complain about this guy, in part because it sounds as if you don't even like him anymore and you're staying only out of inertia, and in part because -I- want to date you." If real is what you want, then that's one way to get it. You just have to be ready to be (a) rejected and, if so, (b) brave enough to wait out any awkward phase while the friendship resets.

Hey Karla--just got your answer, thanks. Would you please email me, too, so I can confirm it's you?

BTW, I think the management changed at the OLD job--is that correct, OP?

I thought my ears were burning--but don't call me an "expert," either! This answer might be colored by my personal preference not to retread old ground--but has anything changed about the old job that would make it more bearable? If the dysfunctional management is still in place, what--if anything--would be different now to mitigate that factor? Are you thoroughly miserable now, or just "don't like" what you're doing and nervous about the change in management? I'd ride out the new management change a bit longer just to see how it shakes out and if there's a place for you in the new order. Two weeks isn't quite long enough for the chaos to have settled. You know, it can't hurt to pick up the recent job search again, just in case. But I'm in favor of moving forward, or sideways, rather than back. Especially after such a short time away. Give 'em time to really miss you. In a way, this sounds like adjusting to a new relationship after a recent breakup, except that we've established dating and job searching are two different beasts. And speaking of relationships... back to you, CH!

The Karla, and not a sly impersonator. Thanks muchles.

This is why we need to know at which company the management change occurred (and thus where to send the hand-crocheted congratulatory blankie). 

I feel like it's the sort of thing you should tell someone. The first time you have sex isn't guaranteed to feel good. I'm sure it might, but for many people, it just feels weird or it even hurts. If you're not enjoying yourself because it doesn't feel good, that's going to cause the guy to be confused/concerned/insulted and it seems better to let them know going into it. If the person you want to have sex with doesn't want to have sex with you simply because you're a virgin, then they weren't a good candidate in the first place.

Thanks for the counterpoint.

Dear Carolyn, I hate writing a question that makes me sound like a jealous wife, but...here goes. The first time I heard of my husband's good friend "Daphne" was when we were sending out our wedding invitations and he added her to the list. He said she was his best friend, which seemed very weird to me since I had never heard of her in 2+ years of dating. She sent me a shower gift (very surprising) and traveled 200 miles to come to our wedding, where she did, indeed, behave like a very old friend of my husband's. She was warm and nice to me. After the wedding was over and everyone went home, I never heard Daphne's name mentioned again, till about a week ago (one year later). My husband mentioned something she had said, and I asked when they'd talked and he said that not only have they been in contact via phone and email all along, but she also comes to town "regularly" and he meets her for lunch! My issue is not that he has a female friend, or even that he has a friendship I'm not included in. It's that I feel like he's been lying, which does, indeed, feel weirder because Daphne is female. Where do I go from here? I'd really like to avoid an unnecessary confrontation about something that might be totally innocent, but maybe one is due.

"Jealous wife"?! The things we do to avoid fitting some bad chick stereotype.

Yes, he has been lying by omission for a year, and that doesn't make Daphne a threat to your marriage--it makes your husband's dishonesty and/or cowardice a threat to your marriage. Did he think it would sound weird to mention she was in town and they were having lunch, so he avoided it? Did it occur to him at some point that by avoiding it he had now dug a huge hole of many lunches that he'd have to explain his way out of it somehow? Did he decide to drop it casually into conversation thinking maybe you'd just let it go?

My forehead just cowered with anticipatory dread.

Where you "go from here" is to say, "I don't know why I didn't just say this a week ago, but why the heck did you not say anything about Daphne all this time? My issue is not that you have a female friend, or even that you have a friendship I'm not included in. It's that I feel like you've been lying." (You said that part very well, btw.)

Good luck.


I am with a fantastic man. Best relationship I've ever been in. It happens he is 15 years older than me - pushing 60. I have no problem with our age difference, except I do worry about down the road. I resent it when he doesn't exercise or if he eats ice cream. He is by no means an unhealthy guy, but I have what may be an unhealthy expectation that he "owes it to me" to be super-duper healthy. Am I unreasonable and selfish? If it isn't entirely unreasonable, how can I prod without being a horrible nag?

He owes it to you to be his honest self as you date. You owe it to him not to get in his face about his ice cream habits. You either accept him as-is or you're not ready for this. There's no magic passkey that makes it okay for you to "prod" a fellow adult about his habits.

Not for nuthin, but you could get hit by a bus and need him to be your caregiver.

Yes, that's correct: The management that I was trying to get away from changed at the old job, shortly after I arrived at the new job. And to answer another poster's good points: the new job is perceived as more "prestigious," and I took it because I thought it would help me develop skills that the old job wouldn't. It's the kind of job where everyone I know tells me, "Whoa, how did you swing New Job?" and implies I should be head over heels for it. So I know I should feel lucky to be here, but I wonder if I let everyone else's Wow-ing convince me that this was a job I should definitely take, when maybe it's not a good fit for my personality.

Karla followed up with a contingency answer for this case:

"keep my answer, but with the caveat that even if management at the old place has changed, it doesn't mean the new job is bad. Maybe start talks with the old manager just to see what really has changed, but bide your time and don't rush back."

Right. The changes also don't mean the old job is now good. 

Given that new job might offer more, consider sticking around long enough for its prestige benefits to accrue, in the meantime allowing yourself time to fit in. One way to look at it: If you go back to Old now, New won't have you back in a year--or ever, no doubt--but if you stick with New, there's a good chance that after a year of prestige immersion, Old will still want you back. 



I'm in the middle! I got sucked in! Where are my boundaries!

I just also want to add that most us weren't having sex in high school. No, really! If you "just want to get it over with" because you think 19 is way too old to stil be a virgin, I promise you most of us showed up at college a virgin and believe it or not-a lot of us even left that way. Honestly, sex is a big deal, virginity isn't.

Interesting way to put it. Thinking about it ....

yep, I agree. Thanks.


Jess reports there was far more passion stirred up by the crochet question than the virginity question. I know crochet famously does this to people, but still. 

How about using the additional income to farm out some of the chores that he can't do. I make 3x what my husband does and have to travel for work and some nights. We have a list of people to do some odd jobs so that he isn't over burden--he also works forty hours. He has to cover childcare when I travel and I keep a list of babysitters for us for those times when he might need extra help (and don't blink twice about paying for it). I try to keep in mind how I would feel if I was the one to pick up the extra work. Just because I am earning more doesn't mean that he should have to pick up more work. I equate more money as an opportunity for both of us to have a little better life (e.g. house cleaner, extra babysitter, and so forth).

Can't argue with that, thanks. Probably helps someone who needs the work, too. 

Sorry, got caught up reading comments, looking for Mr. Sent Flowers to a Woman Not My Fiancee. Will make it up to you by posting a bunch. Comments, not naughtyflowers. 

What a refreshing take on this. I'm pregnant with a first son and the tradition is to name the first name after the father. It's also a classy, timeless, handsome name and yet I feel as though I'm being forced to use it and have lost my choice at naming my child what I want and going through the process of choosing a name. Husband would be REALLY disappointed if we didn't use the name, but is sadly open to other choices if I feel that strongly. This entry put it all in perspective for me. Imagine if his family didn't want me using a family name just because? That's heartbreaking! So thank you, you inadvertently helped another follower with an issue without answering their question! Plus, there's always middle names for me to get excited about choosing!

Right--make sure the middle name is first-name worthy, or makes good initials like "PJ," in case your son decides the family name is a family albatross.

Glad to be accidentally useful.

Similar situation to the OP: I was 20, a junior, and wanted to get the first time out of the way so the unknown. Started dating a nice guy, talked about it, had sex in Week 2. We dated for 6 months. Advice to the OP: your idea makes total sense to me. But consider choosing as a partner someone who cares about you, not a random hookup. I didn't believe the Nice Guy was going to be a long-term relationship, but I knew him well enough to believe that he was going to be sensitive and kind about my inexperience. And not brag to his friends.

Thanks. Another thing to consider--the hookup might be temporary but the memory will be permanent. I say this not to re-invest virginity with significance we just declared wasn't there, but instead to place it in the context of all choices we have to live with. 

I mean, ok, yes, it can be, but our culture puts SO much onto sex. We sexualize everything and then make people feel guilty for having it or feel they need to "save their purity". Women are "blamed" for being raped, for being sluts, for being sexual beings, men are told they must see it as a conquest. We are so screwed up over this in the US. It is just a natural thing that, yes, women can and should enjoy, too. The more with freight it with nonsense, while simultaneously not teaching children about birth control and how their bodies work, the more unplanned pregnancies and unfulfulling sex lives. When it feels natural, just do it, but yes, be protected.

You make valid points. I still think sex is a big deal, but not for most of the reasons our culture makes a big, stupid, conflicting and often ugly deal out of it. If that makes sense. "When it feels natural" is actually a deceptively high standard, I believe in a good way. 

Shows OP exactly how much emphasis she should put on hers.

This, on the other hand, might get a response.

Okay. Enoughsies. Thanks everyone, have a great weekend and I'll type to you here next week. We'll kick one or two of today's burning questions to Philes soon. Also, don't forget to submit nominations for the chat title, especially since I've been forgetting lately to solicit them. Buh bye.


In This Chat
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.

Carolyn's Columns
Past Chats
Way Past ChatsHax Philes Discussions
Recent Chats
  • Next: