Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Internet mouse waits around for chivalrous cat to make move
Washington: I joined an online dating site on a lark to get over a really sad breakup. Eventually I met "Mark," who truly seems great, and we have been e-mailing back and forth . . . for a little over a month. I've thrown him every possible hint that he should go ahead and ASK ME OUT ALREADY, but he's not pulling the trigger.
The reason I'm not doing it for him is twofold: First, I like for the guy to take charge, and second, Mark's profile specifically says he's into chivalry and loves to surprise women with thoughtful plans. What should I say to move things along that doesn't sound confrontational?
Carolyn: A month? This isn't going anywhere.
But here's the hedge answer anyway: What you're doing — holding back because you think that's what he wants, and so will make him like you more — is exactly the kind of self-censoring I advise against. Be yourself, say what you want to say, ask what you want to ask. If he can't handle it, then he's not the guy.
You say you want the guy to take charge, okay, and if that's more natural to you, then don't explicitly ask him out yourself. But don't use your preference for the mouse role as justification to sit around waiting for the cat. Instead, mentally cross this cat off your list unless and until he asks you out, and turn your attention to other, more promising social opportunities.
And make sure that if Mark does come through, you make your plans as if you're meeting a stranger, because that's still what he is to you.
Dream job has high cost to parent with young kids
Dream, meet reality: I just took my dream job. It feels funny to call it that, because it's not especially glamorous, but it pays extremely well and puts me in contact with a lot of great mentors and colleagues.
But I am completely burned out, and this dream job keeps me away from my 3- and 8-year-olds an unacceptable amount of the time. Every day, as I drag myself home, I fantasize about quitting, but I know the job won't be around anymore when my kids are older. What should I do?
Carolyn: No, this job probably won't be there when your kids are older. But your kids will be moving on, too, and there won't be more of them, while there will be other jobs.
In other words, your thinking on the job vs. family balance is incomplete. If you're going to try to weigh "now" against "later," use complete pictures of both. Obviously there will be some unknowns, but if you combine those unknowns with current certainties and future likelihoods, you'll probably have more than enough information to support a rational decision.
That rational decision has to include your feelings about your kids, because those are real and certain.
I think it's also important, as you figure this all out, to make sure you aren't ruling out options without exploring them fully, like going part-time, telecommuting, etc. "Great mentors and colleagues" no doubt will have ideas, too.