Carolyn Hax Live: 'Their feeling worse *is* the teacher'

Apr 19, 2019

Advice columnist Carolyn Hax will be online to take your 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.

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Hello, everybody. Anything going on this week? (News nerd humor.)

Hi Carolyn, In five years of marriage, my husband and I agree that we were happiest during a 6-month period we spent living apart while I did a fellowship in another city. We talked on the phone every night, we got the quiet time we both thrive on, and the quality time we spent together became special again (instead of routine and sometimes boring/disappointing). And so we have decided that when our current lease expires, we are going to move into two separate apartments. We have both been looking forward to shaking things up a bit in this way, are excited about our respective new neighborhoods, and feel great about defining OUR marriage OUR way. can imagine the negativity we have received from the people around us, who don't understand this plan at all. And maybe I am just letting this doubt infect me unnecessarily, but suddenly I am beginning to question whether we're crazy for thinking we can make a marriage work in two separate abodes. And imagining that my husband's enthusiasm is just because he's secretly laying groundwork to start an affair. (I don't think so, but...?) And worrying that the naysayers are right: this is just the first step toward inevitable divorce. The move is August 1. ARE we crazy to think this will work? Or is it just crazy to allow these outside voices to challenge our plans?

What's crazy to me is the idea that one version of coupled life is going to work for everybody.

Maybe this will be the beginning of the new happiest phase of your marriage. Maybe that will be true because you love together but live apart; maybe that will be true because you start to see you aren't well suited. Who knows. I think it's great that you're talking, you're thinking creatively, you're trying something new.

As for allowing outside voices to challenge your plans: Some of that I think is smart. People can see things we can't, whether they're close to us or distant and random enough to be objective.

However, at a certain point, you will have heard everything that had a chance to be useful, and you need to move on. For that I suggest just letting people know you're at that point, plainly. A phrase that just popped into my mind: "I'm fine with being strange, but I'm tired of people telling me I'm strange."

Dear Carolyn, I became friends (mildly) with my brother's girlfriend "Lauren" during the ~3 years they dated. And so I was saddened (again, mildly) when my brother ended the relationship earlier this year. I actually reached out at one point to tell her I would miss her and wished her well. Unfortunately, I think that may have been the wrong decision. She has since stayed in touch at the same rate as before, which until recently I was okay with. However, I now have reason to believe she is trying to use our connection to find a way back to being in contact with my brother, who has shut down communication channels as part of the moving-on process. For instance, she asked if she could join the Easter dinner I'm hosting this weekend, knowing my brother will be there. (I flailed around a little and finally told her we had decided to move it to another relative's house, which I know was pretty weenieish of me.) As far as I know, there is no seriously bad blood between these two, but I don't want to put my brother in an uncomfortable position. His reaction when I told him about Easter was to roll his eyes and offer to talk to her if I felt uncomfortable about it. But as part of an effort to be less weenieish overall, I want to handle it myself. What do you suggest?

A quick, "Ooh, that's not a good idea," would have conveyed all you needed to say. Probably will the next time, too, if there is one.

And if my thinking that means I live in a world where no one ever misses a social cue, here's the missed-cue follow up:

"I'm glad we're friends, but I also believe my brother has a right to family gatherings without his ex-girlfriend there."

Maybe that's not the nicest sequence of words ever strung together, but it's also such a "duh" that you get a little more license to be blunt.

I hope it turns out that Lauren likes you for you. If it's any consolation, she can have them and not even admit to herself that she does.


Four years ago, long before I started dating my current girlfriend, “Amy”, I was sleeping with a married woman, “Ellie” I knew from work. It was a crummy thing to do, I was at a low point in my life after my divorce, and as soon as I came out of my depression, I broke it off. I’ve never told Amy any of this since it puts me in a pretty bad light, especially since Ellie is 12 years younger than me. Besides it was all in the past and had nothing to do with Amy. This week I found out that Ellie will be taking a job in Amy’s group (we all work at the same company) and Amy will be Ellie’s manager. Should I trust Ellie to keep her mouth shut or do I need to confess to Amy about this old relationship? Amy has a picture of us in her office and I have a pretty unusual name so if she mentions me, Ellie will figure out we’re dating. Ellie was pretty bitter when I broke up with her but about 2 years ago when Ellie finally got divorced we met for coffee to hash things out and she said she understood but never wanted to see me again. I was happy to oblige and have managed to avoid her ever since.

Okay, chat people, what do you say are the chances this doesn't come out? I'm thinking 0 percent, and OP needs to tell Amy. I invite HR-type perspectives, too, since this is a workplace.

Teddy, remind me to tally this at the end before I go.

And, OP: Please use this as a hard education in the importance of sharing stuff like this with people you date seriously. The "Besides it was all in the past and had nothing to do with Amy" logic is very tempting, but the stuff in our pasts is about who we are, and who you are has everything to do with Amy for as long as you two are together, and arguably beyond if you're together for any significant time. What you did, why you did it, how you got out of it, and what you learned from it are all key influences on and reflections of your character.

Not only that, but how a current or future Amy responds to your story is a key influence on and reflection of *her*  character. Forget the specifics of will-she-or-won't-she-dump-me-for-this. Don't you want to know how someone responds to human frailty? To painful truth-telling? To the concept of emotional growth? People at low points do things they can't believe they just did. It may make messes, but over time it also makes for some more empathetic humans, so don't be afraid to be one yourself and look for that empathy in others.

Taking this stuff on upfront can seem too daunting, but if it ever does, then remind yourself of how busted you are right now, and how much harder everything got because you didn't just deal with it when you and Amy started to get serious. I don't mean this as a told-you-so, but a don't-ever-forget-so. 




Hi Carolyn, my father is having a legal issue (not criminal) and has been asking for my help. I'm a lawyer with young children. I'm sure others manage to help family in this way, but I've found it extremely stressful. He doesn't always tell me the whole situation, is disorganised, sometimes takes my advice (and sometimes doesn't) and any call turns into a half hour rant about the merits of his case. Added to that the fact that he doesn't respect the boundaries I put in place around my time at work or with my children - eg if something is due on Friday and I say in advance that I can't help on Thursday, he will inevitably send it to me on Thursday afternoon, knowing that I would never refuse him help. I'm becoming resentful and frustrated with him, and it's showing. Any advice on how to deal with this would be appreciated.

*You* need to respect your boundaries. If he sends you something on Thursday afternoon, then you need to set it aside until the time you said you would do it. If he starts to rant, then you interrupt him after X minutes (decide beforehand what your boundary is) and tell him you have to go.

The "knowing that I would never refuse" is on you, not him, 100 percent.

If you can't see that and fix it, then you need to find him a new attorney.


Hi Carolyn, I am pregnant and (obviously!) my body is going through a lot of changes; the earliest noteworthy change has been the significant growth of my previously very small chest. As it has grown 2+ sizes, my husband has become noticeably more interested in sex, which certainly isn't a bad thing! However, we have gotten into a few tiffs about this since a previous frequent argument in our relationship was about mismatch of libido (mine MUCH greater than his) and my feeling that his increased interest indicates that his prior low libido was primarily a lack of attraction. He thinks I'm being ridiculous - men are designed to find more smushiness attractive - and reiterates that he HAD gently mentioned previously that he wouldn't mind if I put some weight on my skinny frame, so now that I have done that with pregnancy this was an inevitable turn of events. He encouraged me to write to you to settle this once and for all - are my hormones making me ridiculous, or does it make some sense to feel a little hurt on my non-pregnant self's behalf?!

Of course you're hurt. You just learned that your husband isn't as attracted to you as you want him to be or as he obviously is capable of being. That's really painful stuff.

It might not be about anyone's choices--he might genuinely love you for who you are and want no one else, and you .. well, your body is your body--but for him now to say it's "ridiculous" that this is a lousy discovery for you, with a lousy bunch of feelings to go with it, is the famous insult to the injury.

So, please pass along my heartfelt thanks to him for thinking of sending this to me, and my suggestion that he get his head out of his [smushy dark place] and acknowledge your hurt feelings.

By the way, this might turn into a great stroke of luck for both of you. As too many postpartum moms have learned, the extra smushiness often stays for good, and not every man gets the memo about what he's designed to like.

I have a recently diagnosed thyroid issue which had caused some weight gain. People, mostly women interestingly, have been asking me if I’m expecting. It’s so awkward. How can I respond without making us both feel worse. Bonus points if there’s a response that will trach them not to ask other women if they’re preggo without proof.

Nothing will teach them faster than a cheerful, "No, thank you, just fat."

Even if you are not, because that's not the point. The point is, their feeling worse *is* the teacher. Your cheerful delivery is the buffer for those feelings. 

I hope your health issues are resolved for you soon.


And now yet another reminder to anyone thinking of asking this question: Just, don't. Because, no, you're not the one person with the standing or panache to pull it off.

Since one of you will likely submit it, I'll sign off with this: "You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely suggests you think she's pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment." --Dave Barry


My husband and I have friends coming to visit us next month, and we were planning to take them out for two really nice dinners while they were here. My husband thought it was going to eat our discretionary spending budget for that one month, but one of the restaurants is far more expensive than he thought and it's actually going to take two months' discretionary spending. He still wants to do it because they're celebrating one of those once-in-a-lifetime milestones. For me, we're already under a lot of marital and budgetary stress from me being chronically ill and too sick to work, and the thought of basically not being able to spend money to go out to eat or do fun things together is killing me because I feel like we need to be able to do those sorts of things together to sustain our marriage. What to do?

Skip the way-more-expensive restaurant and find one that brings the cost down to the one-month-budget threshold. 

Or I should say, decide, together, to choose a different restaurant. 

Seriously. These things can take on Big Meaning when you're too close to them, and it can feel like Restaurant A is the bearer of all symbols of all things, but the bigger meaning is just sharing with friends. And you can do that at Restaurant B. Or by cooking for them at home! You don't need to suffer double to show you care. 

If he's fixated on Restaurant A, though, and no sensible alternatives gain traction, then it actually might make more sense to drop it and be broke than to keep litigating it. Marital and budgetary stress both are difficult, and one always makes the other feel worse, but if this is a one-off, then it makes sense to pamper the marriage even at one month's expense.

I loved playing dress up as a kid. I loved it. I am neither shallow nor stupid. My love of princess dresses got me a PHD and has lead me to curate exhibitions at top museums world wide. Don’t crap all over the dream world of neighborhood kids and maybe they will get to live out their most beloved childhood memories in the dorkiest way possible, through higher education.

I'm impressed. And a little scared.

I think I'm suffering "liberal social consciousness burnout." My circle is pretty left-leaning (as am I). There's lots of concern for the environment, organic food, inclusiveness, and other things I think are really great. However, I've noticed a dark side to it, namely the desire to show off a reason others should be boycotting something or at least not supporting it. I'm talking about purposely commenting on someone's "I love this store!" post to point out to them that the owner of its parent company is a right-wing nutjob, or when someone asks for a plastic water bottle recommendation, commenting "well, we don't use plastic because it's bad for the oceans" etc. This week I've been thrown over the edge: I care deeply about French history and culture, and many of my friends wasted no time (the fire was literally still burning) pointing out that Notre-Dame--and the Catholic Church---doesn't need donations; instead, they are donating to the recently-burned African-American churches in the south instead. Of course that is also a worthy cause, but why is it necessary to constantly be advertising how "woke" we are all the time? I'm very sad about the Notre-Dame fire. But reading these posts made me somehow feel wrong to be so devastated (I am not religious). How can I extricate myself from the Liberal Inquisition, aside from "hiding" folks from my feed (which I've also been doing)? Signed, A Chick-fil-A-eating, Anthropologie-shopping, sad-about-Notre-Dame liberal

Is it safe to assume every left-leaning person in such left-leaning circles has read "The Sneetches"? Because that to me is the fastest way to make this point, that mindless (or excessively mindful) left, right, center and lunatic tribalism run amok isn't good for anyone except the Sylvester McMonkey McBeans, who are making a killing off us all.

Maybe a casual mention of such will get through to them--or, alternately, make you sound so strange that they leave you alone.

I'm a lawyer, and I don't do it. I'm happy to be a sounding board and sympathetic ear, and doing minor research or advice. But I don't represent them in court and wouldn't. Putting that boundary in place has served me well, and (as far as I know) not bred resentment. It's easily explained as an ethics/conflicts issue, depending on your practice area (and in my practice area it's actually true).

I have no idea if this is the right move for the couple, and no one else does either. But I do know that there are couples who have come to such arrangements - google the writer Robert B. Parker and his wife Joan, for a start, but also look around at the marriages of your friends and acquaintances - I suspect each couple does marriage and married life a bit differently, in ways that might or might seem acceptable to you and your husband. More to the point, though, each and every day we make decisions the ultimate result of which we cannot know - it takes a leap of faith to get through each and every day’s decisions, it’s just that most of the time we are sure we’re right. Embrace the excitement and the uncertainty both, you’re living your lives and no one else’s.

My aunt and uncle lived in separate houses for the vast majority of their marriage. For DECADES. It wasn't conventional but it worked for them, and I believe it's why they stayed married for as long as they did, until my aunt's death. They were unapologetic and didn't offer explanation—they just DID. They loved each other more than most any other two people I've ever known.

I was literally just typing out a version of this question, except my fiance and I have not yet gotten married and have not yet moved in together. We've been questioning whether we want to live together given how well everything works now -- if it ain't broke, don't fix it? We're so excited about the idea of getting married (and not just about the wedding, the idea of a lifelong partnership is exciting to us -- though of course, I expect our wedding will be rad, too!), but we wonder about getting these kinds of constant questions. But at least I know we're not alone in this kind of thinking!

Hi Carolyn, A few months ago, my best bud of 15 years, who is married (to a woman), came out to me as bisexual. I'm fully supportive, still best buds,'s really difficult to do couples things with them. I haven't told my wife, and won't, because I swore to secrecy. She senses something different, but hasn't probed. Yet. His wife has no idea, as he is her world. All I see down the road is heartache and betrayal and backlash when it's found out I knew all along. Gah! I've always been an advocate of authenticity, but this has thrown me for a loop. How do we navigate this new terrain? Thanks. Stuck

Go back to him and tell him you thought you would okay with carrying this secret indefinitely but you're not. Talk about the options. Tell him you will need to tell your wife eventually, and you'll hear him out on how. 

Also urge him, beg him, implore him to tell his wife. He is not "her world" if he is lying to her.

If this is indeed a coming out, vs. just giving you a secret he never intends to share with anyone, then it's more about coming to terms with something than it is about hiding. So, you can help your own unburdening cause by supporting his coming to terms.

This is not only important to do because secrets are heavy and terrible, but also because you're right that it will hurt more when people learn you knew before they did--to some degree. Again, a coming out is a little different from a secret-secret, since a coming out generally has a fully-out end point, and your knowing early--as the best bud of 15 years--is something your wife can reasonably regard as a part of that process. (His wife, not so much.)

And it can help your cause with your wife, at least, if you're able to say you spend your in-the-know time helping your friend toward the goal of his telling the truth himself.


Mini theme day: The comment I always get at least once in these situations is: Your friend couldn't keep this secret, he told you--so how can he expect you to keep it? It does speak to the heaviness well.

I was on a crowded bus once where a man made a big show of offering his seat to a woman with a belly that could have been pregnant, could have not been. She responded "Thanks, I'm not pregnant but I am starting a diet tomorrow.'

Amy and Ellie time:

One reason not to tell Amy is that Ellie doesn't need to have Amy telling everyone in the office that Ellie was cheating on her husband in the past.

You’d better believe that Amy will find out from Ellie that you dated her while she was married. So get your story out there to Amy before Ellie tells her version, which, trust me, will not be flattering to you.

LW should definitely talk to Amy about it because he owes her the truth. But honestly, I’m not sure it would ever come out otherwise. The story doesn’t paint Ellie in a good light either (since she was married at the time), so it would be a really bizarre thing to bring up to her boss at a brand new job.

Yeah, it will come out. If I was Amy though, and the OP told the whole truth (OP, please don't justify, just stick to the facts), I don't think I would be that bothered by it. Of course, everyone is different, but it seems like this could be a frank, factual conversation where everyone comes away with a little knowledge and not too many hurt feelings.

If I were Amy, I wouldn’t want to know this. This is an impossible situation for her. Once she knows, it will forever color how she views Ellie and will likely bias her.

I think "confession" at this stage--four years after the fact--is absolutely crazy. It's bound to cause hurt and it's long over. This is about boundaries. If Amy finds out and wants to talk about it, that's fine, but OP didn't do what he did by himself and Im totally mystified by why it would be good for any of the parties to "disclose" at this point. I mean, for what exactly? It's bound to make all three people feel worse.

In addition to Carolyn's advice to be a mature, honest adult and tell Amy about the previous affair before it comes out in a soap opera workplace drama, the fact that Amy will be Ellie's manager makes it imperative to do so. But I hope Amy is mature enough to handle this information properly and not let it affect her opinion of Ellie or interpret Ellie's words, actions, etc. only through this lens, which would not be fair or necessarily accurate.

I'd put it at 10%. But he needs to tell Amy no matter what, because otherwise he'll be waiting for the shoe to drop. He can start out by saying, "I should have told you this earlier," and go on to explain what he learned from the relationship after filling her in about the details. This is a scenario I hope the advice-seeker will send you an update about afterwards.

Yes, OP probably should have told Amy. BUT -- isn't there a case to be made to respect Ellie's privacy? -- they do work in the same company, after all. Ellie may not want to reveal to anyone that she had an affair while married, either, especially to a subordinate. She may not appreciate OP telling Amy about this.

LW, say nothing until the 2 women have worked together for a while, then you can reassess. Your affair 4 years ago was never openly acknowledged. You'd be putting Ellie in a terrible position by telling Amy, who is Ellie's new boss. It would really be crummy to Ellie in her new job. Would you be putting Amy at a disadvantage by withholding? Potentially, depends on the women's characters; if Ellie's over you and Amy's secure in your relationship, then no. Right now neither women connects you with the other, right? Don't doom their working relationship before it begins. Reassess in six months.

Missing from this tale is whether there are any supervisor/subordinate relationships between the letter-writer and Ellie or Amy. Or if they all work in the same group / same office. Regardless, as an HR pro, I'd advise the letter-writer check his employee handbook to see whether the company has a stated policy on fraternization / inter-office dating. Because when the inevitable comes to light - and it will - there could be fireworks. (I'd also suggest updating your resume, just in case, and considering a dating pool beyond your immediate coworkers.)

So ... the protectors of Ellie's privacy have swayed me. You're right, she really doesn't need her new boss to know this about her--and certainly if the two priorities we're choosing from are someone's livelihood and someone's (dating) relationship, then I'm choosing the livelihood.

It probably will still come out, somehow. But then OP can honestly say to Amy that he should have spoken up early on--he should have--but once it became an issue, he realized he couldn't responsibly speak up. Not without putting Ellie in a terrible spot in her new job.

Those still seem like better consequences than the alternatives, as consequences go.

Thanks, everybody, for the thoughtful comments.



Not calling out the husband's thin-shaming? Ouch. Doubling down on it with "not every man gets the memo about what he's designed to like" is double OUCH. Thin lady here with no boobs to speak of. Tired of women telling me I'm "scary-skinny" and men telling me "I love everything about you, your sense of humor, your values. We're a match made in heaven. I just can NOT be with your body. There's nothing to hold." Actually teary eyed here. I really will never be attractive just because of the DNA I was dealt. (perfectly healthy, not trying to be thin, just stuck this way)

I'm sorry. That wasn't my intent--I thought my whole answer was a call-out to his thin-shaming, that what she discovered about him was extremely hurtful to her. I clearly failed to get that across.

The memo comment was sarcasm, about the prevalence of men people (women can be the worst offenders) who fat-shame women who gain weight after having kids. 

What I'd really like is for all of us to stop commenting on bodies, period, or at least commenting as if some are universally desirable or that some are good or bad. My early adulthood coincided with the "heroin chic"/glorified anorexia years, and I fought hard not to internalize the same message you just wrote: "I really will never be attractive just because of the DNA I was dealt." It's a cultural mind-f*** and it's not true. You're as fine as I was/am, as fine as this OP is/was, and fine as anyone. That people say these awful things to you doesn't mean you're built wrong, it means they're rude.


I would be absolutely horrified if I found out my friends taking me out to dinner was causing marital strife. Seriously, good friends can have just as good a time sitting around eating hot dogs as they can at the finest restaurant in town.

My now ex husband and I considered this. There are actually articles on this lifestyle choice. I still wish we had given it a try...before things got so bad we could not fix the marital relationship. The upside is that now were a super close friends. Unfortunately we cannot go back there. Trust your instincts. Why people who love each other have to live in the same abode is beyond me. Who makes up these arbitrary rules?

Maybe separate apartments is the lead up to divorce and you don't know that. If so, what a mature, amicable way to get to that point. Do what you both think is right. It's much better than stuffing yourselves into someone else's idea of the ideal marriage/living arrangements.

Hi Carolyn, I think my husband and I are going to look into hiring an au pair to start helping out over the summer and into the next school year. While I think this will be a huge help and will answer our increasing need for more hands to help out with household and childcare tasks, I am also worried about bringing a completely new, outside person into the mix, completely changing our marital and family dynamic. Do you have any tips for pursuing this kind of help without upending everyone's life?

Au pairs are arranged through agencies, yes? So tell someone there that you'd like to talk to parents who have done this and are willing to share their experiences--preferably those who have had several different au pairs over the years. (So much of it is how well your person fits into your household. I've heard raves and rants.)

I've had people come into our home as caregivers, but not au pairs, which are a different animal--young, international, one-year assignments, etc. The veterans of these arrangements are in a much better position to tell you what (not) to do.

My husband and I have been trying for a little over a year to get pregnant after wanting to try for years before that, but waiting until the circumstances were right. I'm 33 and my body hasn't been cooperating or really regulating on its own, so we've been seeing a doctor to help us sort out what's going on and to see if a biological child is in the cards. How do people deal with the unknown? Being parents is more important to us than being biological parents so part of me just wants to move on to the paperwork already since adoption through foster care is also by no means a simple or straightforward or quick process.

We all deal with the unknown every single day, if we're honest with ourselves.

But anyway.

I'm sorry your body hasn't been cooperating. I do think, though, you answered your own question. Start the paperwork! If your body changes its mind, you'd be grateful for two children, right?

A "no" on that would be the only reason not to pursue both avenues at once. Well, money and red-tape hassles, but, those you can foresee and decide on upfront.

Good luck.

OH MY GOD - He NEEDS to tell the truth. If I found out after the fact that I was managing one of my husband's EXES -- that I was the only one who didn't fully understand the dynamic -- it would take a long time for me to trust my husband again.

Another good point--except Amy and OP aren't married. (Does that matter?)

We do not have a rule against fraternization at our company. I certainly wouldn't be openly dating Amy if there were. Ellie wasn't my admin but was the admin of a close colleague.


Okay--so, does Amy have to know Ellie was married at the time? Is this how we split the baby? You tell Amy you used to date Ellie, so no one gets lied to or outed.


In the crowded bus scenario, why not just say “no thanks”? A lot of women who are pregnant would love to be offered a seat, and scaring people out of the impulse to be generous doesn’t seem helpful.

Another lawyer here. If OP works for a law firm, she should check their policies. My firm prohibits it because of malpractice insurance issues.

Am I missing something, or is there a reason LW can't bring up the subject with Ellie first? It'd be an awkward and unwelcome email/letter/phone call, but gauging how she wants the situation to be treated seems to be the only way of addressing both the time-bomb aspect and the respect for privacy aspect.

Nope, -I- missed something. Again. 

But, also, if it comes out to Amy that he talked to Ellie beforehand but not to her, then, ugh.


Talk to Ellie, don't say much; talk to Amy, don't say much; touch up resume.

Getting close?

Oooh I would not say that he realized he couldn't speak up without putting Ellie and a terrible spot when/if it comes out...that will make it sound like he was prioritizing Ellie's well-being over Amy's. He should say it would have put both Amy and Ellie BOTH in a terrible spot, which is also true.

Right. IF he decides to shut up and duck. Thanks.

Hormones could be a primary driver of hubby's newfound amorousness. When my wife was pregnant, I was overwhelmed with feelings of love, affection, and, well, other stuff for her. Not that I didn't feel that way before, but it was much more intense during that time. Women aren't the only ones who go through changes during pregnancy.

A much happier take on this, thanks.

I don't know if you've already committed to this idea, but I can say from experience that it is NOT worth doing if you have any particular fears, founded or otherwise, about how your "marital dynamic" will fare when a young female employee joins the household. Feelings of insecurity can terribly jeopardize a good working relationship.

I would be a raver about them! Love love love our experience and agencies work with you extensively. And, if the fit is bad, they take that very seriously and will work with you on solving the problem/getting a new au pair. There are many (thousands, seriously) of blogs about this with so much advice. Google some and it’ll help so much.

I almost hate to type it, but you ARE attractive to the right person. I'm sorry people have been so rude. My sister is also super-thin to the point of dealing for decades with the anorexia comments. Her husband adores her and they've got two kids. He also loved her pregnancy boobs (they did a great paper mache of her pregnant belly and boobs that hung on the bedroom wall for years). The point is that he loves her body in all of its various forms. She mostly does, too, and focuses on what she can control (e.g. she wears clothing like a super model, looks great in everything!).

I work in HR. I believe he needs to tell her. What if Amy is hard on Ellie or what if Ellie doesn’t do a good job and Any has to write her up or even worse fire her? If Ellie realizes that LW is Amy’s boyfriend, she could unleash holy hell on both of them.

As a manager, I so agree with the poster who said "OH MY GOD - He NEEDS to tell the truth." You asked, does it matter that Amy & OP aren't married? I think, NO, it does not matter. Dynamics between boss & employee are so delicate, and if I was managing someone who was giving me a little prickliness or something else but I didn't understand why, and I later found out that it was because my boyfriend had DATED them and I didn't know, I would be horrified. OP & Amy need to be on the same side here, with the same knowledge. (Although as a boss, Amy should remain respectful of privacy and keep this knowledge to herself.)

Okay, I think we're done here. Nothing left but the popcorn.

Again, thanks.

People are allowed to have personal preferences about what they are attracted to, or not attracted to. Can we please stop classifying personal preferences as "shaming"? The pregnant LW's husband has not "skinny shamed" her just because he expressed his opinion that he likes the extra weight. He's being honest. I get why the LW is upset, but there doesn't seem to be any cruel intent here.

Spouse is sold. How do we explain the dinner plans change to our friends?

You: "Change of plan, we're going to ____."

They, possibly, but I hope not: "What happened to _____?"

You: "It's out of our reach right now."

I don't have kind thoughts toward people who would respond poorly to that.

A friend of mine once asked a woman he worked with when she was due. She angrily retorted that she wasn’t pregnant, just fat. A week later she found my friend, apologized, and said she just found out she was pregnant and was due in a matter of weeks. Friend swears this is a true story.

Well then.

That's it for today, thanks everybody for stopping by, and I apologize in advance if I meet you this weekend and you tell me your name is Amy or Ellie and I make a weird noise and run away.

Next week is kiddie conferences ("kiddie," ha, they're all officially bigger than I am now), so I'll see you here Friday after next.


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