Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Figure out woman's past to be a part of her future
Q: I'm dating a woman who is beautiful, accomplished and smart as a whip. So why can I not get past the fact that she's been married three times?
A: What's the rush to get past it? Her marriages aren't her whole story, but they're an important (and probably fascinating) set of chapters in her story. If you care about her and are trying on the idea of a future with her, then you need to read the chapters carefully and figure out what they say.
Girlfriend's taking may highlight reasons you should be leaving
Q: My girlfriend has borrowed my car several times over the past month (she's moving) and has not once refilled the gas tank. This should be a softball ("Hey, please refill the gas tank next time you use the car"), but in context a tough one for me because most of the problems we've had in our relationship have been due to my instinct toward bean-counting. She stopped keeping track of who paid for what years ago, and has expressed offense when I ask to be paid back for things. What's a graceful way to skirt this, or should I just let it go?
A: "She stopped keeping track"? That can mean she gives generously and without regard for balance... or takes copiously without regard for balance. If it's the former, then forget the gas tank — and give some careful thought to why you're still bean-counting despite her generosity. If instead she has been blithe about taking your money while offering up very little of her own — and she attacks you anytime you so much as sigh in frustration over it — then you need to accept that your girlfriend is a taker. And a manipulative one, since her "expressed offense" has you questioning — and censoring — yourself when your doubts about her behavior flare up. If this is the scenario that rings a bell, then get out, and eat the gas money as a small price to pay for enlightenment.
Encourage your son to explore opportunities that interest him
Q: My son wants to go to New York University. We live in Florida. He hasn't traveled much, has never been to New York, and isn't very independent. We are concerned he will make an expensive wrong choice. He's considering two Florida universities, but feels like the students will be too conservative for him. I am dreading a showdown if we say no or a debacle if he goes. Help.
A: Way to have faith in the lad.
Time to bring him to visit New York, no? And, to encourage his independence, regardless of setting?
You sound to me — and so probably sound to him — as if you just want him in Florida and will argue whatever is necessary to accomplish this. That's a sure way to make a kid gaze longingly at your worst-case scenario.
Back off, please, and encourage him to take the initiative, to explore what interests him. The more you use your parental influence, the less you have for later; think carefully before spending any on this.