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May 18, 2001



Neighbor War, I Love Her But..., His Cheating



Dear Mrs Web,

I asked my neighbor to please mow her grass; it was way too long. She said she didn't have to mow grass within 2 feet of the property line. I told her that wasn’t true and that I would call the city code enforcers.

Later that day, four policemen showed up at my door with a complaint signed by her. It said that our 8-year-old son had kicked her car door. This was an outright lie but the police didn't believe our denials and wrote up a report saying my son was involved in criminal mischief. 

We have had problems with this woman for 13 years. What recourse do we have with a woman who exaggerates and lies? Please help us deal with this terrible neighbor.

When you threaten an unpleasant person, you usually get a load of unpleasantness back. When you have a difficult neighbor, don’t go asking for more trouble by telling her what to do and then threatening her with public enforcers.

The best thing you can do with this unpleasant neighbor is to ignore her and give her a wide berth. There are people you only greet politely. No other conversation should take place. If her property is in code violations, call it in if you wish, but don’t start power plays with her. It sounds like she is willing to ace you every single time.



Dear Mrs. Web,

I am recently separated from my husband. We are still very good friends- just not compatible. During the marriage and after the separation, I had an online relationship with an former colleague of mine who I have known for about 3 years. We flirted quite a bit and it escalated to an affair (we got together only after I separated from my husband).

He is 6 years younger than me, and has a live-in girlfriend. I don't know anything about their relationship other than she has wanted to marry him. He is uncertain about his commitment to her..

We were involved for 2 months. After much anguish, I ended the relationship. The sneaking around, combined with the guilt, and his reluctance to end his other relationship caused me a lot of pain. I told him that if he were free, we could restart our relationship. Am I doing the right thing, I thought he cared for me?

Yes, I think you did the right thing by ending your affair with this man. I am sure you are hurt, but time will heal you pain. Dear Mrs Web has huge reservations about men or women who cheat on their beloved. It shows poor character, and a profound disrespect for the beloved.

No wonder you ended your marriage with your good friend and husband, you did not keep your heart safely in the marriage, but instead it was flirting with this bounder!!



Dear Mrs. Web, 

I fell in love with my girlfriend in the eighth grade. Her family moved away but we stayed in contact and saw each other at holidays.  After high school we drifted apart for two years. When we finally reconnected we were both engaged to others but we both immediately broke our engagements to restart a relationship together.  

We began arranging our lives so we could be together.  All this time apart we talked on the telephone at least once a day, planning to be with each other.  I had finished college and had begun working my way up at a good firm. She received her associate’s degree in engineering and was accepted to an engineering school nearby. 

At last, we could be together for longer than a weekend every 6 months! When she moved up, the first month it was great – everything we had both hoped. As soon as her classes started, we began having problems. 

I understand that engineering school would be challenging, especially this program which is considered one of the most elite in the country. However, I feel I just don’t count in her life anymore. She has acquired new friends, works really hard, and ignores me, or just drags me along.

When I confronted her about how left out and disconnected I feel she said that I didn’t really know her and that we couldn’t be together now because it was too stressful for her, along with school.

We broke up, sort of.  We still talk about twice a month, but now there is tension between us. Last time I saw her, I told her that I couldn't see her or talk to her any more because it hurt too much. She broke down, cried and told me that she wanted me in her life, that she loved me, and that she never meant to hurt me. I love her so much, that life is unbearable without her in it. 

I'm confused and frustrated because I have started establishing my professional life and she's just beginning hers.  I keep thinking that if I hold on until she graduates in a few years that everything will be great and then we can go about our lives, but at the same time I've been promoted twice and if there is another one, I'll be out of state. I'm exactly where I want to be in life, the only problem is I know who I want to spend the rest of my life with but, she is "unavailable."

It sounds like you want more than she can give. She is under an extreme amount of stress and doesn’t have much left over.

You have two choices. Break up or commit to each other fully. Commitment also recognizes that members have times in their lives where one gives and the other receives. Commitment means it is no longer my career and your career, but our careers our plans, our future. 

Do you love her enough to marry her, give up a promotion until she is out of school, and be Mr. Engineering Student for a while? After graduation, will she be able to follow you in your promotion? Do you both have the ability to help fulfill each other’s needs and backburner your own wants when necessary for your marriage commitment? Visit my Topics to Discuss Before Marriage at to explore this issue more fully.

If you decide wedding bells, send me an invitation for my collection!!



May 17, 2001

Fan Mail, 

Accept Me, and 

Miss Him and Mad.



Dear Mrs. Web,

I read your response to the question about corporal punishment! I loved your answer! It's one of the best I have ever read on the subject. You have such infinite wisdom! Keep up the great work. You are really helping many people.

Wow! I sure needed that. Thank you.



Dear Mrs. Web,

I am currently in a situation that many women may find themselves in at one time or another. I am 23 years old and my boyfriend is 21. We began living together in college, when my mother was in a sense 'footing part of the bill' for my living expenses. I found a wonderful and great paying job soon after he moved in. I eventually had to tell my mother that he was living with me and she was very upset. The rest of my family ostracized me, too.

My mother almost took my car away; it was in her name. She demanded my car keys, and her house keys. She ended up letting me keep the car. She said I had dishonored, and disgraced her and the whole family again sided with her.

My boyfriend and I are planning to marry soon. My mother dislikes him. She won’t be a Christian about it and forget the past. I know I'm not perfect and she may not agree with my life choices, However, I feel like she is my mother and should love me anyway, as I love her. My boyfriend’s family treats me much better than my own family.

Right now, she thinks he has moved out and he is upset that I am 'hiding' him from her. The family still treats me as if I was 12 years old. How do I repair my relationship with my family, especially my mother? I am afraid our past and current problems will carry over into our marriage.

You are absolutely right, your past and current behaviors will affect you relationship with your family now and for years to come. A marriage to this man would be difficult for the family to accept. You are in the the difficult place of having broken your family norms.  It is sad to have your life and future family compromised in this way.

You broke your family’s rules, their moral and ethical beliefs. You lied about living with your boyfriend, and are still lying about it. You complain because your mother almost took her car back. Now you whine for Christian charity, unlimited love, and unconditional acceptance.  

Dear Mrs Web thinks it is time you grew up. Part of growing up is realizing when you step out of your family’s values and beliefs, you will be held apart. People hold such standards as a way of measuring behaviors and in order to live in accordance with their beliefs and worldviews. 

If you choose to break those boundaries, you have no right to stand outside of them whining for unconditional acceptance.  You are not the "center of the universe, " requiring everyone to change to accept your values.  Being an adult you make your choices and you live with the consequences.

You mother has told you her values. You want something you cannot get from her, acceptance of your life, which she considers immoral. Think of something that you might consider immoral, for example: using cute puppies for target practice.  Would you like to be told you needed to accept this immorality because a family member participated regularly in it?

I think what bothers me most about your letter is that you are still lying about playing house with your boyfriend. It shows a weakness of character and selfishness. You want it both ways. You could, if you wanted to discard your family for his, but I can assure you that an in-law is just an in-law.

In your shoes, I would get my boyfriend out of the apartment or face your family honestly about it.  you have your boundaries and values, and they are different from your mother's.  Reach out and tell your mother how sad you were that your choices hurt her.  

  It allows you to continue to be the woman you choose to be but also acknowledges the chasm you have jumped. It would be a way to mend at least a part of the relationship.



Dear Mrs. Web, 

My boyfriend has his own business and is working hard. He has little free time these days and we don’t get a chance to enjoy some of our usual activities. Recently, I handled my disappointment poorly. We ended up in an argument.

He asked if I missed him and I said: "No, but I need to start having more fun."  He did agree with me but I am sure I hurt his feelings. I said this because I was disappointed because I felt that if he really wanted to be with me, he would have made the time.  I had not seen him for almost a week. 

Please help to handle this.

Why don’t you tell him that you overreacted because you were feeling disappointed because you were not seeing him, it had been a long time, and how important he is in your life. Talk together about how you both can balance work and play so you both get what you need and want.



May 16, 2001


Mall Invitation, A Big Commitment, and Not Enough Returns



Dear Mrs. Web,

I was coming out of the mall with my girlfriend over the weekend. When we got to my car, there was a note on the windshield. My first thought was that someone had hit the car and was leaving behind drivers license information. 

Instead, it was a note leaving behind a name and a telephone number. It said that if I was interested in sexual release (although not in those exact words), I should call.  I thought it was the work of someone playing a random, practical joke. Or, it could have been an enterprising, businesswoman, looking for work. On the other hand, it could have been one of my dumber "friends" trying to be funny.

My greatest concern was that my girlfriend might think there was something to this note or suspect me of this sort of behavior, or being involved with another girl. This bothers me. What do you think? 

I think if it was a joke it was a poor one. If it was a business offer, it was not effective. It may have been embarrassing for you or your girlfriend. Life throws us the unexpected. We deal with it. We communicate to keep the lines clear.



Dear Mrs. Web,

I am divorced mother of 4 beautiful children 5 to 14 years old. I had a three-year relationship with a divorced man with 4 children of his own but he backed off because he was overwhelmed with the thought of 8 children and the responsibility of raising them all. The breakup hurt a lot, but, I have bounced back.

Recently, I met a nice man, divorced, no children. We had a few dates and things were going well  - until I mentioned my four children. He backed away from our relationship and placed me in the good friend category. I realize it is going to be difficult to find a man who wants to be a father to 4 children, but I am only 34 and I want someone special in my life.

Should I give up on the idea of having a man in my life at this time and wait until I'm 40 when the kids are older, or should I continue to look? I've heard that there is someone special for everyone, but I'm beginning to believe that is a fairy story.

There are few men or women who want to take on other people’s children, especially four of them. They are out there but they are rare birds. I think you are correct that the issue will hinder some relationships. Women with children are at a disadvantage in the dating/marriage market.

At the same time, big-hearted men and women take on big responsibilities in stepparent roles every day. People who do it well and give it their best. People who go the extra step in commitment. Stepfathers who are delighted in a ready-made family. In my life, the men I have seen willing to readily take on multiple children have been men from large families, and widowers with children of their own. Not that I am suggesting that you scan the obituaries for possible husbands. It is just an observation.

You are a young woman with many responsibilities. I have four children about your children's ages. It is exhausting work to rise them well. Without a husband it would be lonely and at times isolating. I can understand your wish for a mate.

In your shoes, I would leave my heart open to the possibility of a husband. I would make sure my children are protected from any dating or relationships I have.  Keep the men you do see out of their lives.  Remember, they come first with any choices you make.   Children should not be subjected to a parent's love-interest; they don’t have the understanding and filters to manage it.



Dear Mrs. Web,

I always give a lot to my relationships, my husband, family members, and friends. I am starting to resent this because I don’t get much back. I hardly ever get what I really want.  What should I do?

Everyone should have boundaries. Relationships are like tennis, you volley, and you get a volley back. Sometimes you volley two or three times, but there should equal generosity in the returns.

When you lose your boundaries, you get forgotten, put-upon, and used. Even well meaning people tend to push boundaries as far as possible. I also think that some people let themselves be mistreated or have their needs ignored because of poor boundaries. When they are poorly treated or taken for granted they work even harder to be noticed by the beloved. One should always ask for what one wants. No one reads minds.

There are people and times you won’t get an obvious return, of course: babies, children and teens, the elderly and severely disabled. In these cases, your responsibility towards them is primary and the returns come in different forms.



May 15, 2001


Car or Travel, 


Without Marriage, 

His Buddy Doesn't Like Me, and Will I Ever Trust Again??



Dear Mrs. Web, 

I don't know whether I have made a mistake. I recently purchased an expensive new car and have three years of stiff payments ahead. The car is the only thing stopping me from traveling internationally for a few months. I have always yearned to do this.

Some people tell me that this is the only time in my life I would be able to have an expensive car, because I still live with my parents. Others say that I should have traveled first. I will be 21 in the autumn. I am confused. What would you have done, bought the car or traveled?

You can grunt out the three years or you can sell the car and travel. In your shoes I would travel.  I didn't travel very much when I was young.  Now that I am older than dust, it is one of my profound regrets.  

Marriage, family, children, ill parents, and a sundry of other older adult responsibilities creep up quickly. You can always purchase another car.


Dear Mrs. Web,

I met a guy in December and we immediately hit it off. We both go to college and work.  We never did much together except hang out.

Three months into the relationship he took me to the Caribbean on spring break. Everything in our relationship was perfect and the vacation was perfect too. It gave us time to do things together.

A few days after we returned he broke up with me. He said had had initial doubts about our relationship, which diminished over time. They returned after our trip. We have not seen each other in over two months. I think he has these doubts because he got scared in the relationship. I am so confused. I want to know if there is a way to make him open up and work this out.

I think the young man has made it clear that he doesn’t want to be involved anymore. You have apparently concocted an entire fantasy that he is somehow afraid of the relationship with you. I see no evidence of this. 

In some circles, one would say you had the honeymoon without the wedding. I think he tried out your relationship and changed his mind. I am sorry. It is difficult to physically and emotionally open yourself to someone and have him walk away.  It hurts.

Try the Dear Mrs. Web Bookshelf for books about dating and courtship. A deeper look at the choices made in a relationship and their long-term consequences might help you here.



Dear Mrs. Web,

My boyfriend has a friend who doesn’t like me. He consumes a lot of my boyfriend’s time and whenever he has a party or event, I am not included in the invitation. He recently had a fundraiser and did not include me. My boyfriend went alone, and although he didn’t lie to me about going, he didn’t tell the whole truth either.

I think he didn't tell me about the fundraiser because he knew it would cause an argument. I told him that it hurts me more when he lies to me, than the fact that I am not invited. What should I do?

I think you did just fine. Your boyfriend sounds like he stuck between that rock and hard place we hear so much about. Eventually, if your relationship becomes committed through betrothal or marriage, he will need to make a decision about your boundaries as a couple around this man.  Remember, in marriage the beloved comes first.



Dear Mrs. Web,

I am trying to figure out how to trust again or even if it is worth the trouble. I am 37 years old, single again for the past 2 years after 11 years of a relationship and marriage.

We never fought, but did have our problems, like everyone does. Unexpectedly she slapped me with a divorce. My life was shattered.

Now, two years later I still have major trust issues. My ex-wife, on the other hand, found someone else, and has even left him for a third man!

I don't know how to move on, I am out of love with her, but I'm not sure if I am capable of love again. Any advice?

Trusting someone is a choice. Anger, bitterness, and grief, all cloud the choice we have to move on and have a life that is open to relationship, love, and commitment.

One of the best ways I have found for opening the paths to my heart is to spend time looking at what happened in my past relationship, and discover my responsibility for its failure. Then I am able to clearly map out the ways I can avoid such pitfalls in the future. For example, perhaps you both would have been more successful with a few good arguments to clear the air. In this instance, looking at your current communication skills, your comfort with anger etc… may be valuable for you.

Once I was able to own up my responsibility and learn and choose different behaviors I no longer looked at my self as someone who could not trust because I was an active participant in relationships and my future. I could choose to trust because I knew that I was more knowledgeable….   Is it foolproof?  No.  Frankly, sir, life is a series of risks.

Remember, we put ourselves in our own boxes sometimes.




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