Life Hax: My dating life is a Taylor Swift song. Help!

by DGO Web Administrator

A few years ago, my husband passed away young. I just started dating a great guy; he got divorced about the same time I became a widow.It’s pretty obvious one of his close friends has a major thing for him. She texts him constantly. When we are all hanging out, she is really clingy and uses a lot of inside jokes. She is separated with two young kids and it’s pretty clear she thought she was going to be with my boyfriend.He handles this really well, talks to her but doesn’t lead her on, is totally transparent the entire time. I’m not worried about him cheating. I’m just tired of the dynamic in the group. Everybody else just ignores her and thinks this will run its course. I would much rather address it.I told my boyfriend I want to pull her aside and ask her to cool it around him because it makes me uncomfortable. He said it’s totally up to me if I want to do that, he would support me, but is on record that he thinks giving it more attention is a bad idea. What do you think? Tired of the Dynamic

Yeah … no. Bad idea. Presumably she clings to him because she believes he’ll eventually come around to her – when he finally realizes she’s the right one for him.

The moment you step into that vision of hers as the person actively trying to keep her away – to keep him from the life with her that is his destiny – then you will only confirm for her that you’re nothing but the huge mistake he’s making instead of dating her. (Yes, this is a Taylor Swift song.)

Even if that’s an exaggerated or unfair interpretation of the way she feels, the absolute last thing you want is for her to see YOU as the reason they’re not dating. HE’S the reason they’re not dating, because he isn’t interested in her, and that message needs to be as clear as possible.

If indeed he “handles this really well,” then you should take your own word for it and let it play out. I do think if the clinging continues, though, then at some point (soon?) he will have to crank the truth to a volume she can hear and say outright, discreetly, he’s not interested – for her sake, not yours, to spare her the mounting humiliation.

Since your motives compromise you, admit that upfront when you suggest he might need a Plan B.

I am very concerned about my adult son and his relationship with his second wife.Bear with me – I know he’s an adult! But: His first marriage failed, more to do with her, but he wasn’t blameless. Now he’s married to a fabulous woman, and there are two adorable babies as well.So I see him doing the same kinds of things as before, and wife No. 2 has shared with me her growing frustration. They’ve done some couple’s counseling, but it’s erratic. He promises to do things differently but then doesn’t follow through. His wife has bent over backward to come up with solutions around their issues – she is really trying.I see her frustration increasing a lot; I don’t know how much more time she’s willing to put into this.I KNOW this isn’t my marriage, I KNOW they are adults, but would it be completely terrible if I had a private talk with my son and pointed out how close he is to losing everything? Or should I just butt out and be there to pick up the pieces when things fall apart?Worried Mom

Parents have outsize power, so they must be mindful of that and know their place, especially since it changes over the course of their children’s lives.

Their place when children are grown is not to avoid using that power altogether, though – not necessarily. It’s to use it judiciously and unselfishly.

If you were to speak up here, it would not be because you want your son to do X or Y to please you. It would be purely for him: to wake him up to the soon-to-be runaway train of his wife’s frustration, and to the consequences of his not cooperating fully in calming things down.

As always when meddling like this, you get to use your power clearly, compassionately, where it really counts, and only once. “It’s your life, but it’s also our shared history, so humor me. Your wife is trying to get your attention and close to losing her patience. She has said as much, but I’d seen it myself.

“If she does lose it, then you lose everything.

“It would be on my conscience if that happened because you didn’t see it coming. So, I’m speaking up. But now it’s up to you.”

Then you butt out – and hope there’s no more falling apart to clean up.

My son has always loved baseball and now that he’s grown he coaches his son’s baseball team. This past summer my grandson got hit in the head with a ball and was knocked unconscious, and he didn’t play for the rest of the season. I assumed he was done playing baseball, but my son told me last week that my grandson will be playing again next summer.I told my son I’m appalled he’d expose his son to another injury like that, and my son ignored my opinion. I also called my daughter-in-law to try to get her to talk some sense into my son and she also pretty much ignored me.I know most of the time you tell parents to butt out of things like this but isn’t there an exception when we’re talking about a grandchild’s physical health? I just can’t believe my son and his wife – who are usually good parents – would let their son continue to play a sport after he’s already been badly hurt playing it.Appalled

If it were my son, and if he loved the sport enough to want to keep playing it, then I would let him play it. (Full disclosure: My kids play ice hockey, soccer and baseball.)

A serious head injury warrants a serious consideration of the risks, of course, and if it were one of the sports that involved repetitive head impact, then I could see wanting to step in as a grandparent to say, “Wait, are you sure?!” But while baseball has its dangers like any sport involving a high-speed projectile, a head injury is more of a fluke than a certainty and so I’d feel better leaving it entirely to parents to decide.

One caveat: If the boy is playing only/mostly because his daddy is smitten with baseball, then that supersedes a lot of what I just wrote. If that’s true AND the boy isn’t good at baseball and a lack of skill/coordination is why he got beaned, then that wipes it all out.

It still doesn’t supersede the parent’s prerogative, though. It just means a grandparent gets to say, once: “If the boy wants this, then I understand, but if it’s more about your wanting it for him, then I hope you’ll reconsider. A kid who isn’t all-in is more likely to get hurt again.”

“Good parents,” by the way, wouldn’t try to relive their favorite childhood sport vicariously through their child – so if they are in fact good parents as you say, then maybe it’s time to take the “usually” modifier away and trust their judgment on this.

Carolyn Hax is a syndicated advice columnist for The Washington Post. She started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. Email her at [email protected].


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