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Another Mistake in Our Relationship,
The Cheater's Friend, and
The Older Woman
Dear Mrs. Web,
My boyfriendís mother and I have had a poor relationship due to many reasons. I was patching things up after my pregnancy, not to mention the drinking episode with her underage daughter. I was back in her good graces after the abortion.
A few evenings ago, my boyfriend and I had a silly fight on the porch of his motherís house. It was dusk and I walked off the porch and down the driveway swearing at him as I walked away. I did not realize that his mother and grandmother were parked at the far end of the driveway.
They thought I was cussing them out. They are very angry and refuse to even see me. I donít want to apologize; I didnít do anything wrong. They are treating me badly again because they choose to believe the worst about me. How can I get back into their good graces?
It seems as though you have a history with them, of really making a muddle of things. So it is only normal for them to expect the worst.
The only thing I have seen work in these situations is abject, humble apologies. With flowers. And good chocolates. A real crawl. If everyoneís heart is able to forgo the lid of anger and coldness, relationships can work again.
However, in your shoes, I would treat this woman with a bit of distance.
I am a friend of a man who is married who announced last week that his wife is expecting their first child. I have never met his wife. He has had at least one extramarital affair, with a 16-year-old girl, which is over now. He told me all about this affair as it happened and it made me very uncomfortable. Yesterday he told me he has solicited a woman over the Internet, and is paying her plane fare for a secret sexual rendezvous.!
I got very angry and reminded him that he had a pregnant wife at home. "I seem to have lost my conscience," he admitted. I tried to convince him to cancel this new woman, but he is adamant. He kept making flimsy excuses: "I must live sometime. I'm making up for lost moments. My wife will never know."
I do not condone adultery and I think what he is doing is despicable,
especially when his wife has a baby due. He said I am the only person
who knows. Is there anything I can do? Would I be justified in writing
an anonymous note to his wife telling her about her husband's
infidelity? He once said that if his wife ever found out she'd probably
kick him out of the house. I am beginning to believe he deserves it.
First thing I would do in your shoes is to close your moral boundaries a bit and dump this "friend." He is a moral zero.
I do not believe in anonymous letters. I think they are not to be trusted. Too many people use them to hurt people. In your shoes my thoughts would be: if you believe that his stories are true and it would be right to do, sit down with his wife and tell her your concerns. His wife and baby are at risk for the sexually transmitted diseases this bounder drags home as well as lawsuits and criminal actions if he continues to have sexual encounters with underage girls.
Keep away from him, he is, in the immortal words of my grandmother, a crumb.
Dear Mrs. Web,
My girlfriend and I have been going out for three months. She is a lot older than I am. I am actually not allowed to date and my parents just discovered our relationship. They are trying to break us up.
They blame her because she is older. They are saying that she is making me disobey them. They refuse to let us be friends or even to let me talk to her anymore. I really like her and neither of us want to break up. What do you think I should do?
I happen to believe that a true mark of maturity is the ability to accept limits, as well as honesty. Purchase and read I Kissed Dating Good Bye. It is on my website bookshelf. .
Who Should Pay?
Can I Move? and
I am a 16-year-old guy and I am dating a 19-year-old girl. I am wondering if there is any legal problem with our age difference. What is the oldest age I could date legally?
Are you planning to make the hearts beat faster at the Betterdays Rest Home, son?
I donít think any state would have a problem with a 16 year old dating an older woman. The problems occur if the adult has any sort of sexual contact with the minor.
So you shouldnít have any problemÖoh, you are? In that case, each state has different rules about sexual contact with a minor. You will need to call your local police, the state attorney generalís office or look through the state penal code.
Before you do that though, sign up at your high school for a good active sport like soccer, basketball, or track. You sound like you need a good, tiring sports workout six or seven times a week.
Dear Mrs. Web,
I am a grandmother raising our 17-year-old granddaughter. She is dating a nice young man, but she is expected to pay her share of the costs when she goes out with him. I feel that the young man should foot the bill when he asks a young woman out. His parents think I am crazy. Am I?
I much prefer courtship to dating.
When dating is an issue though, I do agree that the traditional ways have their charms. However, we do not live in a traditional world. Many couples go Dutch on casual dates such as movies or sports events. Long-time couples sometimes each pay their own way to otherwise unattainably expensive events they wish to share together.
On the other hand, I would not want my daughters footing the bill for their dateís entertainment and food costs. Women can provide picnics and outings of a creative nature that do not make them bear obvious costs. My dear, we both are getting old!
Dear Mrs. Web,
I am a divorced mother of a 6-year-old daughter. My ex and I have been apart for approximately 4 years. During our separation, he went to court and had it ordered that I could not move from this state with our daughter. I do have sole custody of my daughter.
Now, I have plans on remarrying. My fiancť is a lawyer who is planning to accept a job offer in another state.
What are my chances? I am willing to negotiate visitation so that my daughterís father can spend quality time during her summer vacation and spring break. Please advise!
Your lawyer will be able to tell you how the courts in your state look upon this issue. I would imagine that your former husband has an enormous say in whether his daughter leaves the area.
If he has been at all involved in her life, it would be terribly unfair to rip her Dad away from her. Perhaps, in this case, your fiancť would be able to find work somewhere in the area, if necessary. She comes first.
Dear Mrs. Web,
Can a girl become pregnant even if she had her underwear on? Please answer, I am 15, and this is very important.
Yes, she could get pregnant but it is not likely. Whenever young and healthy people mate, or try to mate, their bodies are designed to make a baby, and will try to do so.
If you are having these sorts of situations in your life, at age 15, your biggest problem, is not a possible pregnancy. Your biggest problem is how you value yourself and others.
Rights and Authority,
How Long Between Marriages? and
Dear Mrs. Web,
I am a high school teacher who loves his job, even those moments when young people can be emotionally extreme. One frustrating phrase that comes my way with maddening regularity from my students is their protest that either a teacher or their parents have no "right" to make demands on them, or that they, the students, have the "right" to act in essentially any way they choose.
Could you offer any advice to teachers and parents who have to respond to this argument so often? Thank you for your time and your refreshing column,
Thank you for your kind words. I am trying to provide a different perspective for my readers than the currently received wisdom.
I am afraid I am a bit tough-minded about this issue. I cannot separate rights from the words "privilege" and "responsibility." Young people have certain true rights to expect and require from their caretakers: three hots, and a cot, safety, a minimal education as required by the state, and basic healthcare. Just about everything else is a privilege. Moreover, privileges are earned by showing responsibility, and have responsibilities attached to them.
We live in a culture soaked in the word "rights." From the Bill of Rights, to patient rights, to the right to die, to the right to own some bauble, or to be offensive, the word has been twisted to increasingly meet the needs of the unreasonable.
So my response to a youngster who is demanding something in the name of his or her rights is to really name what is going on and remove the word and all its self-righteousness from the discussion. I would say: "The word "rights" is a smokescreen. Actually this isnít about rights; this is about you wanting your own way. You donít want to respect my authority in this matter. Now we have this out in the open we will discuss why you can/canít have this privilege and its responsibilities."
It is the responsibility of the adults in childrenís lives to help the children understand what authority is and how it benefits them. Authority, well-applied, provides the limits children need. We have too many quasi-adults running around who hate the responsibility, weight, and difficulties authority entails. So they duck this responsibility, play buds with the kids, and then wonder why the children blow them off. There is a certain, to use a popular expression from the last election cycle, "gravitas" needed when dealing with children as their caregiver, parent, guide and protector.
I do not in any way mean harsh, authoritarian means of intimidation or manipulation. Instead, I mean that although pleasant and warm, one should be authoritative, and directive when necessary. Underneath it all, children should know that an adult will take the important issues to the mat with them, and will win.
Dear Mrs. Web,
What is the socially acceptable waiting period to become engaged after divorce?
I donít think there is a magic number, but one would hope that one waits long enough for children, if there are any, to become acclimated to divorce before bringing in the new model. Divorce is difficult for children; remarriage is difficult for children. Give them some breathing room.
When children are not at issue, I would think some down time between spouses might be edifying. It also gives the extended family time to adjust. In your shoes, I would wait between 6 months and a year. Particularly if there is a trophy in the wings.
Dear Mrs. Web,
My boyfriend broke up with me about 6 months ago and is involved with someone else. I still have feelings for him and canít seem to get over it.
Every guy that I have dated has always broken up with me first. I don't know what I am doing wrong. Recently, I canít seem to make it to a second date. What am I doing wrong?
Letís begin with the boyfriend. You are having a difficult time shaking the boyfriend from your heart. That is normal. When we let someone into our heart and soul the way a boyfriend or girlfriend is permitted, we experience pain and loss. We are not television characters, we have many more dimensions, and when we play with our emotions, we get hurt.
That is why I favor courtship over dating. I think it is an emotionally safer path for relationships and the best way to find oneís life-mate.
Next, dating is about shopping. Most people think it is a venue to grow relationships. That is not true because it is such an artificial situation.
You are not unusual, I hear many women and some men tell me they have a difficulty maintaining a dating relationship.
Get out of the meat market and read I Kissed Dating Goodbye and other books about courtship.
Freeloading Family, and
Should I Tell Her?
Dear Mrs. Web,
Is a divorced women known as a "Mrs?"
My grandmother used to call divorced women "grass widows." I just love the phrase. The official formal social title of a married woman is Mrs. John Smith. With a divorcťe, if she keeps her former husbandís surname, she becomes Mrs. Mary Smith.
Dear Mrs. Web,
I have been married for 3 years. My mother and sister-in-law have been causing us some problems. They both donít take responsibility for their lives and rely on us for financial bailouts. My mother-in-law lives in a Las Vegas hotel and is always waiting for some big deal to transpire, which never does. She has no real work and can barely feed herself.
My sister in law is equally irresponsible. She says she has an evening job but there never seems to be any income. She has lost her three children to the state because of neglect. They are now with their father.
We don't really have it to give. We have our own debt to pay off and our first child will be due soon. It would be one thing if they were ill or in some way, unable to work. They just refuse to join the real world.
If they need money or a place to live they come here and make us feel obligated to help them. I canít see this ever ending. Are we obligated to help them financially or provide them with housing? How can we stop them from hounding us for cash? What should we do??
Where is your husband on this issue? Is he having a hard time turning down his family? Do you both need to stand together firmly? You are not to face his family, or even do most of the talking. It is his family and he is responsible for protecting his marriage and children from their demands.
The only way to stop being a doormat is to get up off the floor. A polite "Gee, Iím sorry, we canít help you," from him or the both of you is appropriate. No discussion, case closed. Repeat it as often as needed until the begging/anger/words of entitlement stop. They will probably will go away mad. Everybody gets mad when the cash cow runs dry. Once you stop giving money out, you will discover how much real commitment these two have to you.
You are obligated to respect and honor your parents and family, not to feed and shelter freeloaders. So, you are obligated to give them directions to the local welfare office, and the local homeless shelter, (and even a ride to the offices) but not the keys to your familyís finances.
Dear Mrs. Web,
My best friend has been dating this guy for about three years. At the very beginning of their relationship, he and I spent an evening together. We almost ended up in bed but we both realized in time that it wasn't the right thing to do.
I never told my friend about this little moment, and now they are happy and in love. They are planning their wedding for this autumn. I feel that this past event is keeping me from being completely open with her. It was a long time ago and I don't even know if it would really matter to her now, but I can't stop thinking about it.
I don't want to ruin her relationship or our friendship. Should I tell her?
No, of course it would still matter to her. You and the boyfriend almost made a mistake, but you didnít. This is both your burden and your responsibility. I donít know why you want to dump it on her. It would be unkind. Friendship is not about blowing up peopleís relationships.
Let me give you one piece of information: friendship is not about being completely open. Friendship includes the flexibility of tact, warmth, and discretion.
I donít know why you are still carrying this issue around. Quit worshiping and worrying it and let it roll off your shoulders. Moreover, continue to behave yourself around her beloved. Dance at their wedding with a clear conscience. You both did the right thing.
No Big Deal...Or Was It?
Dear Mrs Web,
I am 15 and I need your advice. A boy I have known for a few years, he has just been a friend, and I got together at my house the other day. He is cute and we had been flirting.
Well, we ended up talking in my room. We were talking about sex and he told me he wasnít a virgin and I told him I was. I told him I really wanted to have sex. He said he had a condom and if I wanted to, he would. I was a little hesitant, but I thought it was a good idea. I was tired of waiting, I donít believe in waiting until marriage and I donít think sex is wrong. So, we did it. It was uncomfortable. I made him stop after a while and he got dressed and left. The whole thing took about five minutes.
I told my best friend what happened and it spread through the school like a fire. A few of my girlfriends think I did the wrong thing, one even told me that she thinks less of me now that I have had sex with someone I was not involved with. The boy and I are just friends; wellÖthings are different between us now. It seems like I am going through a lot of stress about something that just wasnít a big deal and I am confused.
Mrs. Web, I had no feelings about it. I was curious to find out what it was like and I had the chance to so I took it. I don't want to regret it because I don't like to regret things.
I don't know how I should feel. I didnít think it was a real big thing, and I wish that everyone would just forget about it. It seems like no one is going to let me live it down. Can you please help me...give me any advice you have on what to do...? About the boy...about my friends...about my feelings...my morals...anything. Thank you for listening...
We have different values, you and I, so you will need to bear with me. Unlike you, I think what you went through was momentous, not a mere biology experiment.
You put yourself in a sexual situation with a young man who was not your beloved, betrothed or husband. You opened your body to him out of curiosity and a sense of "let's get it over with" which is a reflection of the beliefs you have gained from the common culture through the media. It sounds like you went into the sexual act while emotionally numb and continue to feel numb about it. How sad. Sharing your body is an intimate and private moment reserved for the beloved, the person who accepts and loves all of you.
I consider sex as a physical manifestation of sharing the heart. I am sorry you were with a young man who did not value your body and heart enough to walk away.
You have told your friends and now it is school gossip. Sex between two who are beloved is an intimate and private subject, not something to be opened to the scrutiny of friends. We live in a time where sex is discussed casually in the media and people model casual sex on television. However, the magazines and television shows are all orchestrated public relation manipulations and scriptwriter fantasies. None of it is based on the reality of human emotions.
It seems as if your emotional numbing has made you not able to understand the big deal of mechanically rubbing you genitals with someone. In one sense, you are right, when looked at in such a narrow perspective, it is just genital rubbing. However, when your heart, soul, and body are involved instead of being cut off, it is momentous. Your friends are reacting to the momentous whole.
Your friends are gossiping. The best thing you can do is to ignore it and move on. You now have some insight into the importance that your friends attach to sex outside of committed relationship. You broke the norm. You are going to have to work a bit to regain your footing with your friends.
Both you and the young man used each other. Because of the intimacy involved, your relationship, although it may not ever go forward, cannot go backwards. It is forever changed.
This is all about your moral perspective, how you value yourself and others, and how you want to treat others and be treated in the future. Given your experience and your friends' reactions you will need to decide whether you want to link your heart emotions and your sexuality together in your life or keep them split apart.
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