Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Don't let wishful thinking leave you feeling used
Q: Been seeing this same guy going on two years. He says he is a homebody and doesn't like to go out — but he will come to my home late at night, while never inviting me to his. He never shows his feelings, only in the bed. Should I continue to see him? Not to mention I see him only once a month. I tell him all the time that I care for him, and he never responds.
Confused and Feeling Dumb
Carolyn: You feel that way for an excellent reason. And if you enjoy feeling dumb, then, yes, you should continue to see him.
But if you don't like that "I'm an idiot" sensation — or its frequent companion sensation, the one of sitting home waiting to be someone's booty call — then take heart. Everyone does at least one mind-bendingly stupid thing when tempted by the promise of love.
And, too, redemption is readily available. All you have to do is stop falling for the lines your smarter self would find risible, and start tuning out the voice that tells you to seek immediate gratification that leaves you feeling bad.
Re: Feeling dumb:
Anonymous: Anybody besides me think the boyfriend is married? "Homebody" never invites her over, "I see him only once a month" at her place, only for sex.
Carolyn: I think everybody, including the letter-writer. It's a reminder to never underestimate the power of wishful thinking.
Don't be afraid to defend Dad from Mom's slander
Q: When my mother turned 60 she told my father she never wanted to have sex again, and if he did he should find someone else. Three years later, when he took her up on the offer, she declared herself betrayed and hurt. He begged her to go to counseling, but she refused. She pocketed the household expense money for three months, then moved out, telling everyone he cheated on her.
Dad is left friendless, broke and fairly miserable. As kids we're left completely confused. Do we listen silently when acquaintances bash Dad? Do we share the details of their sex life with the world? When Mom trots out her wronged-wife routine, do we offer sympathy? She told us herself about giving him permission, but now says, "He should have known I didn't mean it." I wish she'd just divorced him three years ago.
A: When acquaintances bash Dad, please don't give your tacit confirmation of your mom's slander. Instead, stand up for him. If you say, "It's a more complicated story than it appears, and we stand by our dad," then you're telling the truth without giving up one detail of their sex lives.
And, seriously, sympathy for your mom? Really? You don't have to set fire to your relationship with her, but you also don't have to torch your integrity to pander to her.
You're in the rare position of knowing she betrayed your dad, and not vice versa. So, you say, "Mom — please." You know, in the conversation-ending way that tells her you won't abide her lying to injure your dad.