Distance yourself from the negative people in your life
Q: First, I got sober when I was 21 and have been sober over 17 years. Active in AA, still go to meetings, etc.
Almost five years ago, when I separated from my now ex-husband, he informed me that I would have a "black mark" against dating because I am a single mom.
I have dated some, but now I'm not sure how to handle mentioning that I don't drink for good reason, or the greatest present I ever got, my son.
Some people say I should not mention either immediately — I should let the guy get to know me first. However, if he is going to decide that he doesn't want either of these in a girlfriend, then I don't want to waste his time or mine. I think I should be straightforward when it comes up in conversation. What do you think?
A: I think someone who has worked as hard as you have at life — reading between the lines here — deserves to surround herself with good people who are supportive of her two excellent causes.
An ex-husband who rubs motherhood in your face as a "black mark," and current advisers who see denial of your real self as your only shot at dating? These are not people who support your two excellent causes. These are underminers.
Yes, you're right, you're a sober mama, so you gain nothing by presenting yourself as anyone other than a sober mama.
The issue is deeper, though. I don't mean to read more into your lines than they warrant, but if you have a history of trusting the wrong people, then that's what deserves your attention.
As a sober mama, you have zero margin for error when it comes to being with jerks. You simply can't afford it. So be straightforward without apology, but also fierce. People are either good for you and your son, or they're gone.
You're under no obligation to accept wedding invitation
Q: I have received two invitations in the last few months to weddings held within two weeks of the invite. As a general rule, I think people worry too much about how wedding invitations reflect on the friendship. But the late invite creates an awkward decision. Do I accept the last-minute invite to the event that I know people have been planning for months? I've done this, and it makes me feel like a second-tier friend. Or do I decline due to the late invitation? I've also done this, and it feels petty.
Am I making too much out of this? I'm a single guy and the friends in question are guys I went to grad school with, and talk with 4 or 5 times a year.
A: With grad-school friends marrying themselves off in droves, you're probably this close to forgetting you ever used to care about this stuff. Check out an average-age-of-first-marriage graph, and you can calculate almost to the year how much time you have left in heavy wedding-guest rotation.
In the meantime, it may help just to tweak your mind-set toward feeling good either way vs. bad: If it sounds like a good time, then go. If it doesn't, then don't. None of us can ever really know how badly we're wanted, anyway; might as well follow your bliss.