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  1. Kids & Family

Tell Me About It: New romance haunted by past relationship

Carolyn Hax is away. In her absence, we are offering columns from her archive.

A few months out of a several-year relationship — and not very far into the healing and moving on part — I met a great guy. We've been seeing each other, but he questions how ready I am for a new relationship, and obviously wants my thoughts to be on him, not the last guy.

However, I lived with the last guy, and so there are things I do not notice, like household items, that seem to bug him a lot. Is there something I can do to assure him?


A: He chose someone who is just months out of living with a serious boyfriend. He can't make that go away. Any effort you make to appear unencumbered will produce just that — appearances.

Please stop assuring him you're ready. For starters, you probably aren't. And, this new relationship will either survive on its own merits, or it won't. You can't assure him of something you don't even know yet.

Contact experts before accusing an abuser

Q: What would you say is the appropriate amount of certainty required before calling Child Protective Services on someone? I am about 40 percent convinced my sister-in-law is abusing my nephews, but I don't want to hurt her in some irreversible way over such a low percentage of certainty.


A: I encourage anyone in your position — meaning, with grounds to suspect child abuse, but lacking confidence in your assessment of the situation — to call the Childhelp hotline (1-800-4-A-CHILD). Childhelp is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting children from abuse, and its trained staff can help you identify what to look for and when to get the authorities involved.