Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Longtime boyfriend has change of heart, but it may be too late
Non-mover: I've been a terrible long-term boyfriend and moved out nine months ago. We still see each other once a week, but I'm told I'm a friend (which I suppose I should be grateful for). I'm not moving on. I will marry this girl. Other than patience and bringing up the conversation once a week/month, what do I do?
Carolyn: Stop saying, "I will marry this girl," because that's not romantic; it's creepy. You own 50 percent of that decision, and not a dust speck more.
Since you're hanging around and pressuring her, the only thing I can advise is that you stop the "patience," stop bringing up the subject permanently, and extract yourself gracefully from the weekly visits. Go get your own life without her, and mean it. You weren't ready to be her one-and-only 10 months ago, apparently, so it's possible you're only ready now in response to getting kicked out.
Because of that timing, I don't think you can say for sure whether you miss her, or miss being in a relationship with her, or feel panicked at having lost the upper hand. These are vastly different things. One is about her, and who she is, and how much that means to you, and the others are about liking yourself in a particular role.
Control is an unhealthy illusion, and playing a role gets old, stale, rote. If you (the whole person) are nuts about her (the whole person), then you'll have the solid foundation for being bigger than just a role, for being there for each other as you and your lives evolve.
That's why your best move right now is to figure out who you are, and to do so without her in your life to serve as your guiding purpose. Figure out why you're stuck on her now, why you blew it before, and even why you think it's okay to say, "I will marry this girl," when it is so obviously something two people decide together or not at all.
Mother-in-law's rude comments put her in a hair-pulling bind
Love my hair! I got my hair cut recently, and I love it. I'm also seeing my mother-in-law this weekend. She hates my hair short and always takes the opportunity to say that I look terrible. Can I use the "wow" response to her mean comments? I don't think I can pull off a "That's such a rude statement" or have the heart for an "I love it and hope you'll learn to like it."
Carolyn: Sure, "wow" works, but because her criticism is so egregious and because she's in your life for the long haul, my vote is for dealing with her straight on. "I love it and hope you'll learn to like it. But if you never do, please at least consider my feelings before you speak."
Really, do people ever regret standing up for themselves in situations like this, even if it doesn't solve the immediate problem?
Anonymous: Re: Hair: You could try "Would you like me to leave so you don't have to look at it?" (It works well meek and apologetic with big innocent eyes, if you can carry it off.)
Carolyn: I like it, but only as a followup to the definitive standing of ground.