The Washington Post

Breaking an addiction to outcomes: Carolyn Hax Live (Friday, April 18)

Apr 18, 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

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Hax Philes discussions

Hi everybody.

Carolyn, Thanks for your column today and your advice to butt out.....that actually goes for ANY pregnancy that is not your own! I recommend that all expectant parents, parents hoping to expect, and anyone else, read the book "Expecting Better" by Emily Oster. She does an excellent, data driven analysis of all the do's and don't we are given during pregnancy. Whether or not you choose to drink alcohol, eat pasteurized cheese and Turkey sandwiches, or garden during pregnancy, she provides the information and data on which to base these decisions. Cheers, A Faithful Reader!

Thanks for the recommendation. It's the first I've heard of the book and so can't vouch for it, but the premise says it's a badly needed book. Those do's and don'ts  are crazy-making, especially since some of them are wives tales and almost all of them come with the penalty of public glaring if you choose to ignore them. 

Hi Carolyn, So, I had a wonderful boyfriend until a few days ago. He was so wonderful that I wanted to marry him. For the past year, instead of sending the message that I adored him and therefore wanted to marry him, I accidentally sent the message that I wanted to get married, full stop, and what the heck was taking him so long anyway? This might be the biggest mistake I've ever made, and I didn't fully realize I was making it till he told me I was pressuring him too much and asked me for a break (with minimal contact) to work through his feelings about the relationship. As I've now had a few days alone with my thoughts, I'm all too aware of how much I was pressuring him and am actually surprised he didn't pull away sooner. I'm doing the best I can to honor the no-contact request (only two slip-ups and no more anticipated at this point), and I otherwise plan to wait out the month, do some thinking of my own, and hopefully get back together with a renewed appreciation for what a wonderful man I had. Am I expecting too much here? Is his asking for a break just the first step to inevitably breaking up for good, or do people ever come out on the other side still loving and appreciating each other? I'm really hurting here, and would regret it deeply if I pushed him away when I really intended to send the message that I loved him and wanted to keep him around.

I can't possibly know what he intends, so I can't ease your suspense for you. I'm sorry.

I can counsel you, though, against "expecting" anything. It's your preoccupation with outcome over process that put you in this place to begin with, so use this time to break yourself of that habit. It's a hard one to break, I get it, especially when you are so close to a vision of what you want--but look at it from his persepctive for a moment. Do you want to be the fulfillment of someone's vision, or do you want to be you? In many ways, many of them subtle, they are mutually exclusive. When the life you envision is what you're after, then your mind is constantly filtering information based on how it does and doesn't fit the vision. That opens you up to a couple of problems, including frustration with a guy for deviating from your vision when what he's doing would be just fine if you weren't under self-imposed pressure to follow a script. Again, youo're living the consequences of that problem right now. And, you also run the risk of just not seeing facets of him that don't fit your vision. It is never a good idea to bet against the power of our own minds, and when you're invested in seeing a man in a certain way, it's not only possible but very common to mentally white out aspects of his character, emotional makeup, lifestyle, or whatever else doesn't fit. But those things don't just go away; they're there all along, and eventually they will break through your vision to be reckoned with. Often that reckoning comes years into a relationship that would have taken a different course if you had seen these traits for what they were from the beginning. 

You seem to be in the post-epiphany phase where you recognize your error and are ready to take a less forceful course, but I'm not sure you recognize the full implications of what you were doing. You don't need just to back off on the marriage pressure; you need to let yourself see your BF fully, based only on the understanding that wanting to marry him so badly automatically closed you off to certain types of information. Spend the rest of this month considering what that information was, and whether it changes anything.

Dear Carolyn, I wanted to comment on Monday's column. Many of the 'nuts felt it really isn't their business if their teenage daughter is having sex. If this girl is in high school and living at home, her parents are still legally responsible for her (remember the recent case of a 19 year old girl who had a relationship with a 14 year old girl?). It IS their business. Second, I was surprised by your response to the LW's comment that she wouldn't want to be the last to know. I can tell you that if your spouse is cheating on you, and everyone else knows and even covers for him/her, it is tremendously humiliating and destructive. I have never known anyone to say, golly, I was so happy not knowing - I wish we could go back, s/he can cheat all s/he wants and I'll just chug along happily oblivious. I think the parents ought to know.

But you're misrepresenting (grossly) what I said. 

I said it's important to ask yourself -why- you'd be upset about being the last to know. In your example, there are two possibilities for the "why": because you'd be humilated, or because your not knowing would mean that half the town was closer to your spouse than you were.

It's the second, right, that's the real reason you'd be upset? And so the issue of being the last to know is not the problem, but a symptom of a problem. Therefore, having someone from the outside tell you about your spouse takes care of the symptom but leaves the underlying ailment intact.

In the letter, the underlying ailment is the rift between the teenage girl and her parents. A chaperone handles the situation according to the guidelines given the chaperones beforehand, and a friend handles the situation by caring about the rift, not the telling or not telling. 

I stand by my answer.

And, I think culturally we impose ourselves way too much on our teenagers' sexuality, with a false sense of control driving it. They are going to be out of our sight for extended periods of time--and need to be--which means all we can do is teach them age appropriately and well throughout their lives, and nurture the relationship toward becoming the people they (can, and want to) talk to when making these decisions. That means laying off the Absolute Pronouncements except in the few areas where they must be laid down, and supporting our kids in responsible choices knowing they are the ones choosing, not us. Even when technically they are still to young to appreciate the full consequences of their choices, they're choosing. We have to live with that reality and respond as parents accordingly.

Hello Carolyn, My boyfriend of several years and I have decided to get married. We are not formally engaged, but will be shortly (he's picking out a ring as I type!). Several months ago my father mentioned to me that he expects my boyfriend to ask his permission to marry me before my boyfriend actually proposes. My issue is this: I disagree. My parents divorced when I was very young, I was estranged from my dad for the majority of my childhood/teen years and my mom raised me by herself. I reconnected with my father a few years ago and our relation is fine, but my mom gets the credit for raising me to be the woman my boyfriend wants to marry. I know my father will be upset if he isn't consulted before we get engaged. Should I just ask my boyfriend to ask my father as a formality and to keep the peace? Is "asking parents for permission" still a thing? To complicate the situation further, I know my mom will be upset if my dad is asked and she isn't. Help!

You agreed to get married, so you're already engaged. 

If it's important to you for your parents to be involved, then ask your fiance to ask your parents for their blessing. Not permission, blessing. It's a way to offer inclusion without trading your autonomy for it.

If it's not important to you for your parents to be involved, then announce your engagement and deal with your father's disappointment if and when it happens. For example, "Dad, I realize this was important to you, but it was important to Fiance and me for just the two of us to make this decision together." I.e.: Identify your principles, live by them, and stand by your choices.

Hi Carolyn - I am in the midst of night school, full time work, attempting to renovate a new house, and then of course be a reasonable wife, friend and daughter. I basically look around and see my awful, glaring shortcomings in all aspects of my life since I am spread so thin. I feel like all I do is say no to people, but then apparently not enough, because I am behind on my reading and finals and the house is a wreck since I haven't done my (tiny) part of the chores in weeks. In any case, do you have any tips for cultivating kindness for myself during this time? The anger I am putting on myself sometimes feels worse than the actual reality of what I am facing.

1. Set a realistic schedule.

2. Include down time in that schedule--even if it's just "Permission to ignore laundry at 11 p.m. and watch TV instead when I finish everything for the day." Include a date with your spouse, too. 

3. Talk to your spouse about said schedule before you implement it. Spouse might surprise you by suggesting you lighten it even further, but if all you accomplish is to make visible the limits on your time, then that's a victory. Also look, together, for things you can outsource. Even where money is an issue, you can often find things on your to-do list that are so time-consuming that doing them ultimately costs you more (in lost wage-earning time) than paying someone to knock it out.

4. Live by the schedule as a gift to yourself. It might seem soulless in writing, but allowing the schedule to determine your actions will take many high-stakes, high-guilt decisions out of your day on a daily basis. That in turn will lessen your operating stress level, which in turn will make you more productive. 


I'm not just the typer-outer of this philosophy, I'm also a client; I've managed a career of self-supervised work on deadlines in a houseful of small (and then not-so-small) kids by creating a rigid, reality-based schedule and then sticking to it. 

My wife cheated on me during our first year of marriage. It's only been six months since the affair, so emotions are still raw. I wasn't considering a divorce until she confessed that she's cheated on several boyfriends before me. To be exact, she cheated on four of five of her previous boyfriends (she only dated the fifth boyfriend for a few months, so perhaps she didn't have time to cheat on him). She says it's never about love, just the sex. She's happy with our sex life, but she gets a thrill from the chase and from being with someone for the first time that can't compare to anything from a long-term relationship. I'm pretty sure I already know the answer, but is there any way this can change? We're in therapy, but so far we've only explored why it's so exciting for her. She even told me afterward that she sometimes becomes aroused during the counseling sessions just thinking and talking about her past affairs. Are my only two options divorce or to accept that she'll be sleeping with multiple men throughout our marriage?

Unless and until she wants to change, those are in fact your two options. I'm sorry. 

Couples counseling is not the place for her to address this, if indeed she wants to change; individual counseling is. From your brief description, though, it sounds as if she likes herself this way. 

How do you break up with someone for no particularly good reason? I don't hate him, he has no horrendous flaws, he is generally a nice guy - I just don't want to be with him any more, and since we don't have kids or live together or own a pet it doesn't seem worth the hassle of trying to fix it that hard. He says he will change, and doesn't believe me when I say there isn't anything in particular. At this point I am tempted to just cut him loose - but since we have friends in common and live in a small town it is hard to do. Plus, I DO care about him and I wish I just had something to tell him that he could accept.

I'm sorry he's not taking no for an answer--in part because he's making it harder for himself, and in part because (if you're repesenting it accurately here) he's being disrespectful. The "doesn't believe me" is grounds for  a breakup unto itself. You care about him but you're not feeling it--end of story, because his changing who he is doesn't serve as the solution to any problem presented here. State that as clearly as you can, one more time, then say you'll gladly see him around socially but not as his date. End of discussion.

Please, do what is best for YOU! This is your engagement, your marriage, your life. Blessings (yes, blessings, not permission) can be asked for IF you think they will add to your joy and not create pain and chaos. Either way, you're an adult who gets to make her own choices. On another note--I was in a very similar situation: estranged from my (very controlling) father, though still on civil speaking terms with him, while my (wonderful and loving) mother raised me and deserves the credit for the unconditional love and support she provided me with. My boyfriend knew this, and when he asked for a blessing to propose to me, he took my mom out to lunch when she visited over Christmas and asked for HER blessing. He was happy, I was happy (though it was him, not me, that wanted her blessing), and my mom was nearly in tears of joy and so so supportive.

What a nice story, thank you.

It's a thing the way big public proposals are a thing. Artificial, contrived, and indicates obsession with a fantasy rather than living one's life (see Carolyn's "you're already engaged"). To those who whine about "tradition," I give you the great Miss Manners' pointing out that such traditions were practised by those who also thought it traditional to make public the state of the bride's virginity and the groom's virility.

The other, divine Miss M. Thank you.

I think you were too hard on the mom from today's column. She mentioned her concern to her daughter once, and sent her one email with info backing up her advice. Then she stepped back and asked you what she should do. That doesn't seem overbearing to me.

Maybe it was, but maybe, too, next time she reaches for just the right way to insert herself into her adult daughter's decision-making process, she'll get a mental image of me with horns and a pitchfork and think better of it.

Hi Carolyn, thanks for taking my question! I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I'm actually the same person who wrote to you a few months ago about fighting with my boyfriend during wedding season last year (yeah, I guess everyone bu)t me saw this outcome coming). I appreciate your insight and agree that contemplating the relationship in all its realities is one good use of my time this month. I think I already know the answer to this question, but do you advise dating other people during this limbo time (or at least trying to)? I'm sure I'm not at the point where I want to get serious with someone new anytime soon, but I also worry that I'm thinking in unfair extremes--e.g., "If he doesn't marry me he doesn't care about me" at one end, "There's no one in the world as perfect for me as he is" at the other. By the way, if you're starting to wonder how old I am--29. I know these high-drama questions aren't reading as particularly mature.

I think you need to put down the mans and back away slowly. Spend this month--maybe even ask for more time at the end of it, if your BF returns ready to try again--just on and with you, whoever that is.

When you wake up in the morning, what do YOU want out of this day? When you are hungry, what do YOU want to eat? When you are upset, how do YOU want to handle it? If it weren't about getting or keeping a man's attention, what would YOU want to wear? If you weren't on a date or with friends, what would YOU want to watch? If you're alone in the car, what do YOU want to listen to? If you were traveling alone, where would YOU want to go? If you had to budget your money, how would YOU set your priorities? If you were to take on a volunteer gig to give your newly spare time some shape and purpose, what cause would YOU choose? If marriage were not in the cards for you, where and how would YOU want to live?

Finding answers to these questions will bring you to a more peaceful place, as well as a more purposeful one--and by that I mean internally purposeful, instead of driven in a way that depends on someone else to make your goals possible, as marriage does.

That more peaceful person will have better relationships of all kinds, not just romantic.

Just the fact that you owned up to being the past LW, knowing it exposes you to the told-you-so army, suggests you're ready to do this kind of thinking and to give yourself the kind of constructive criticism that will open your eyes. Good stuff, and brave.

(Sorry it took me a little extra time, but here's the orginal question in the chat (link) and in the column ... er, it's scheduled to run Monday in a column.)

I have always been a gregarious person with a wide variety of friends, and I have always been politically-minded. This would seem like a contradiction, except I'm pretty good at having conversations other people want to have, which means a lot of my friendships over the years have never involved political discussion. Until Facebook. The nature of Facebook is that all my friends and family see everything I post, political or not, so friends who have previously been ignorant, or at least indifferent to my views, have been inundated with this "new" side of me. So I have had some attrition of acquaintances as a result over the years, but wasn't particularly worried, since my closest friends have always known this about me. But now, these old friends seem to be retreating. I saw a post this morning by a friend thanking our mutual friends for a great night on the town for her birthday. Nobody invited me. I have tried to dial down my political posts on FB, but I cannot stop talking about things I care about, and that I have always cared about. I don't want to live in an echo chamber of people who agree with me, which is what seems to be happening. I would quit FB altogether, but as a SAHM in a neighborhood of parents who work out of the home, I (in my gregarious way) need adult interaction! Ack!

"I cannot stop talking about things I care about"? Yes, you can. It's a choice, and that means you can make a different one.

Should you, or do you want to? That's up to you, but it seems to me you have all the pieces in front of you, and now you just need to decide how to arrange them: Keep posting political things knowing it will likely cost you some friends, or stop posting political things because you value these friendships more than you do these opportunities to share your opinions. 

As you weigh the two possibilities, I suggest you assess honestly what you accomplish with each choice. What does time with these friends add to your life? Are you having fun, forging alliances, helping the community and being helped by it, teaching your kids by example, ...? Likewise, what does posting things accomplish--are you advancing your causes, changing minds, drawing out informed disagreement from people you respect on the other side of an issue ...? 

It's just like anything else, requiring honesty with oneself and a cost-benefit analysis.


There is, by the way, a middle avenue, where you cultivate a set of friends from various points on the political spectrum who appreciate political discussion on social media, and who aren't just going to inhabit your echo chamber or disagree with you and scratch you off the dinner list. You can create a group of these friends and post only for their eyes. 


About five years ago, two years into a relationship with my boyfriend, I told him that I wanted us to move in together, and eventually get married. He slammed on the breaks (out of shock, I think) and said he wasn't ready. But I still liked him and enjoyed my time with him, so I went ahead and lived the life I wanted - I bought a house, got a dog, enjoyed having him as my boyfriend, and decided that until I didn't enjoy that anymore, I had no reason to dump him. About a year later, he asked if he could move in with me. I was delighted and said yes, and we've been married now for a year. But if he hadn't asked, in that year? Or if I decided I wanted someone else, on my time frame? Maybe we would have broken up. But I'd still have my awesome house that I own, and my awesome little dog. I'm glad my husband is in my life, but I'm also glad I didn't subsume myself in the despair of him "not being ready."

Perfectly on point, thank you.

Thanks again, and again, I agree. Just because I feel the need to self-defend a tiny bit--I'm actually a pretty well-rounded, self-reliant, non-boy-crazy person, albeit one sensitive to pressure about hitting life milestones. I do know myself and my priorities pretty well, and you're dead-on right that it's frustrating that unlike education, career, homeowning, etc., the marriage thing is a goal that's mostly outside my control. That's something I just haven't been able to wrap my brain around, since it seems to happen relatively easily for lots of people.

Fair enough, but that vulnerability is a gaping one. What happens for other people, easily or not or whatever, IS NOT RELEVANT. It's just not. 

Oh my goodness--I wasn't going to post this because it's a thank-you and I generally treat those as private, but it's so directly on point on the milestone-hitting issue that I'm going to post it anyway.  ↓ Here ↓  

Hi Carolyn. About 8 or so years ago, I wrote you that I was a couple years out of a long-term relationship, after which the guy moved on very quickly and married someone else. At the time I was in my 30's, and my question to you was how do I shake the feeling that there was something terribly wrong with me and that I was doomed to singlehood for infinity. Your response: "If there's something terribly wrong with anyone, I'd say it's with someone who believes that all true love is found ever so conveniently, between the ages of 18 and 35, and (with exceptions that are in the clear minority) between two unattached people who form a compatible breeding pair. I mean really -- the tenacity of fairy tales is mind blowing. We find passion, for a person or hobby or career or calling, whenever we find it, if ever, and the trick both before an after these discoveries is to take whatever we have and don't have and try to live with some kind of grace. On that count, my guess is you're doing great." I saved your advice and thought of it frequently. I had a few bumps in the road -- with relationships, family, and life -- since then, but I tried to find passion in other things and live life with grace. And, a couple of years ago (in my 40's), I was lucky enough to meet the guy who is now my incredible husband. So, I just wanted to thank you for your advice those years ago - you really do make a difference in your readers' lives. Thanks. :)

(Thank you, too, and congratulations.)

Hey Carolyn! Thanks in advance if you end up taking my question. I've been with my girlfriend for almost a year. This is my first serious romantic relationship, and I love her very much. In the beginning, I did a terrible job at managing the fact that she had been in relationships with other people. I was jealous and it showed. I thought that I had it under control, when an ex-GF of hers moved back into town. During a low moment, I went through her phone and found out that she's not sure whether her feelings for her ex are strictly platonic, and that she had lied about spending time with her. We talked it through (I confessed my snooping) and she shared that she had been wondering but that there was nothing between them but friendship. Since then, her friendship with her ex has been a source of stress for us. I asked for honesty about the time she spends with her, and that worked for a bit, but after I got upset because she spent a long evening with her, she went back seeing her occasionally with out telling me. I have a fairly good sense of when she's keeping stuff from me, and called her out on it a couple of times. She states that when she tells me they're hanging out its stressful for her. I feel that I'd rather she didn't spend much time with this ex, but if she does, that she definitely shouldn't omit that information. I don't know how to resolve this with her, without us hurting one another. Any advice would be appreciated.

Knowing I can speak only to you, since she didn't write to me, here are the two necessary parts of the bargain between you:

She: stops hiding her relationship with this ex.

You: stop getting upset when she tells you she has seen the ex.

If you can't stop getting upset, then you need at least to stop showing it until you can get it under control. That's the only way your relationship with your GF is going to work, because you can't give yourselves to each other fully if you're always worried about whether someone else is going to intrude or lure your GF away. You need to believe that as long as she is with you, she is choosing you--and that if she chooses someone else, she will let you know and you will break up.

Part 2 of this is accepting that this might happen, in any relationship, and you will survive it and heal and someday love again. As long as you've set yourself up to believe that the Worst Thing That Could Ever Happen is for your lover to find someone else, you will always burn a good deal of energy worrying. That's a side of lousy that will not only hamper your enjoyment of the love, but also limit its depth. Repeat to yourself as needed: Most relationships end. And the heart ...

Sigh. I realize I quote Woody Allen at my peril, but this line in "Hannah and Her Sisters" has not just stayed with me, but guided me since the moment I first heard it: "The heart is a very, very resilient little muscle. It really is."

Hi Carolyn! Long time column/chat addict here. I have a dilemma I would like another opinion on. I like to dress up in cute, slightly sexy oufits for my dates with my boyfriend, and I really enjoy playing with fashion and feeling hot/stylish when I do. The problem is that sometimes he *loves* the outfit, but asks me to cover up more or change out of it before we go out. He cites two reasons: he doesn't like the idea of other guys eyeing me or hitting on me in front of him, and he would find it distracting in an embarrassing way (can't get up from behind the table just now, wait a minute while I think about politicians or something...). I have usually agreed to change or keep my jacket on because of the second reason, but I'm seriously uncomfortable with the first. I'm disappointed when I can't actually wear an outfit I put together specifically for date night, and I am very uncomfortable giving my boyfriend a say in what I wear- ever. But then again, I also want him to enjoy himself on the date, and it doesn't cost me that much to just change clothes. What should I do? Thanks, Arlington Fashionista

This might be good for Philes, because I will admit openly to being a hard-liner on this topic: My body is my body, and nobody gets to decide that it's for his eyes only. I think his attitude betrays a sense of ownership that is, for me, a deal-breaker.

Full (er) disclosure, I didn't always think that but I do now, and wish I had come to this self-knowledge sooner than I did.

 (Reason 2, well, what can I say.)

Jess, would you pls throw this steak to the dog pack question to the nutterati? Thanks.

Sorry everyone. Slight technical issues. Hang tight!

"...a lot of my friendships over the years have never involved political discussion." "...I cannot stop talking about things I care about, and that I have always cared about. " Seems like before Facebook, you *could* stop talking about those things. I realize Facebook is really close to being a diary, but it's not. If writing down your opinions makes you feel better, you should just keep a diary. But if you're really excited to have this newfound way to express your views and the reason you didn't express them before is that you didn't have the right avenue, then you need to accept that you're going to lose people over it.

Yes--a different way to slice it, thanks. If you see Facebook as an extension of your friendships, then you shouldn't say on FB what you wouldn't say in a conversation with your friends. And if you see it as a platform for political speech, then maybe you shouldn't have your social-but-don't-talk-politics friends as your friends. 

Here is the Hax Philes post on Arlington Fashionista's question. She asked, "Too much skin or too pushy boyfriend?" Help her out and discuss.

Why do people do that?? Carolyn, do you have any insight into this behavior? I just do not understand how people can go from wanting to marry someone to going through with that and then so quickly break the vows they took! Can we throw all the people who behave this way into a room together so they have only each other to be with? Please?

I do understand, actually, and I think you probably can, too, if you walk ... over here ... and look at it from this angle:

I heard recently on NPR (and if I had an hour I would dig it out ... but I don't ... anyone?) a counterpoint to the idea that we're all born innocent. What the guy said amounted to this: We're actually born feral, and our parents and society train us out of that, and civilize us to be "good," vs the opposite, which is much more widely accepted (that babies are innocent and then people turn bad as they grow up). Then he posited that the scariest/most violent/most dangerous person is a 2-year-old who has made it to adulthood without having the impulses of a 2-year-old civilized out of him.

I like this. Makes so much sense to me.

And, it explains this person cheating in a brand new marriage: Think of her as an immature, not-fully-raised/civilized, still-somewhat-feral human: She wants what she wants and she goes and gets it. She gets the warmth and stability of love and a home, not to mention the societal acceptance of checking the marriage box, and in addition she gets the illicit thrill of sex outside her marriage. She's a toddler in an adult body, wanting what she wants without full appreciation for or empathy for what her preferences cost someone else. 

Even before I heard Mr. NPR man make that observation, I had found it useful to see some people's choices through the lens of human as feral creature, particularly those who are immature thanks to age or dysfunctional childhood. I also don't say this from a place of sitting in judgment, since I've recognized some of my own choices as fitting that description. I just think sometimes we give ourselves and others credit for being fully civilized--especially when trying to read the meaning in people's actions--when often there's a lot of animal talking.

I dated my BF for years before we got around to the marriage chats. I still saw marriage as a "goal" all of my friends had met, that I (a slight over-acheiver) hadn't. It was a panicky, uncomfortable couple of years that my BF and I navigated carefully. After awhile, I started seeing it differently - not a goal, just a more permanent form of our current relationship. I started looking at him differently: no rose colored glasses, no knight in shining armor, no perfect-for-me facade. I realized I had to evaluate him, very seriously, as a life partner. I did, we got married, best decision WE ever made together. But you have to stop treating this as a goal/checkbox/destination. The person who bought the house, got the dog, and dated the BF while it still made her happy is the one talking the most sense here.

If it had been a cat, fuhgeddaboudit.

Jess, why can't I see the Hax Files discussions? I click on the links and see the question, but not any of the chatter from the nuts. Thanks.

I don't know? The discussion is happening in the comments section. I can see 9 comments there right now. If you don't see any comments, email me - - and I can try to help.

Is it possible to go from living with someone to not living with them anymore but still dating? I'm staring this in the face as something that feels like my only option right now, but does it ever work or is it just like the "let's take a break" generally always preceding a break up?

Same answer as the taking-a-month-off-over-marriage-pressure answer: It works if it works and it doesn't if it doesn't. Or, your mileage may vary. Or, past performance does not necessarily predict future results. You get what you get and you don't get upset.

Really. You do what you think is right based on the circumstances you're in, and you see where it takes you. This is most definitely a theme chat on breaking an addiction to outcomes and living with what you have.



Just wanted to present the other side: I recently got off of Facebook in part because I was so annoyed by other peoples' posts. Yes, your particular political views may be important to you, but it's possible some of your Facebook friends felt like you were pushing your views on them, or possibly even demeaning their views. Even when the "culprits" were people who I knew well off of Facebook, it still irked me and made me want to interact with them less.

You do see a side of someone that you don't see in person. And that's worth thinking about for everyone using social media, for any purpose: Imagine a person you know. Any person, but mix it up--a family member, then a close-close friend, then a pleasant acquaintance. Now imagine saying this thing you're about to post out loud to that person's face. Would you do it?

That's from This American Life; the recent Bad Baby episode:

Yes! Exactly. Thank you.

If you want to openly express your political opinions but want to avoid alientating your friends who do not agree/feel comfortable with those expressions, make a blog. Those that want to read and discuss the politics can do so, those that don't can keep on keepin' on as they always did when they were just friends and not FB ones.

Elegant solution, thanks.

As a woman who is finally seeing the light after buying a house, moving into that house, dealing with postpartum depression and some serious postpartum physical issues, working full time, and taking care of my husband and baby, I know where you are right now and it sucks. Leaving the laundry for another day, ordering in a pizza and going to sleep at 7:30 pm is going to feel like giving up, but it's not. It is necessary for survival. You have to survive. Get into that frame of mind, and you will find yourself being kind to yourself. And learn how to say "no" - I am horrible at that, and it always comes back to bite me.

There are definitely corners we can cut, and even need to cut to conserve energy for the things that matter.

Says the person single-handedly supporting a local pizza joint.


That's it for today. Thanks everyone, have a great weekend, and type to you here next week. I'll try to have the tech issue resolved by then. This is my first chat with a whole new (and allegedly much faster) computer setup, and obviously something isn't working as it should. Bleh.

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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 She lives in New England with her husband and their three boys.

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