Ask Amy: Goldilocks leaves behind a few strands

January 26

DEAR AMY: I have been engaged for almost a year. My fiance works out of town and we travel back and forth to visit each other.

On my most recent visit I found strange stuff in the house. All of my clothes were hidden in the house and the clothes on hangers were badly creased and looked like they had been stashed somewhere and then moved back into the closet.

The bed pillows were strongly scented of perfumed hair oil and I discovered strands from a woman’s hair weave (definitely not mine) when I was sweeping the house.

When I confronted him about everything I had found he denied that anything was going on, but I don’t have closure about it. I feel like I have been betrayed and lied to.

I have been thinking of inviting him to take a lie detector test so that I can have closure on this matter. Please let me know what I should do. -- Fearful

DEAR FEARFUL: You imply that there is some uncertainty here that you think a polygraph could clear up (it wouldn’t). You don’t need a polygraph (or a team of forensic experts) to establish that your guy has been entertaining someone other than you at home.

You’ve found abundant physical evidence. In your pumped-up version of “The Three Bears,” Goldilocks has been sleeping in your bed, leaving at least some of her locks behind. Your guy will deny this like his life depends on it. You could waggle a hair weave in front of his face and he would somehow convince you that it belongs to you.

You need to figure out what comes next. I suggest you take a break from this relationship while he figures out how to establish his innocence, innocent intentions, and/or provide guarantees about his future behavior, without the use and expense of a lie detector. At the very least, let the polygraph be his (not your) idea. Then he can worry about closure, while you are living your life.

DEAR AMY: When accepting a dinner invitation, what would be the polite way to say, “Please don’t serve salmon” or some other dish that one is either loath to eat or is allergic to? Oftentimes the inviter doesn’t ask anything about one’s likes and/or dislikes and so one is left in the dark.

When issuing an invitation myself, I try to inquire about likes, dislikes or allergies, but most people seem to be a bit oblivious to this simple question. Any help would be appreciated. -- Diner

DEAR DINER: Nowadays it seems many people parade their food sensitivities and/or preferences with the same swagger I once used to swan around in my Jackson Browne T-shirt. Regardless, there is no polite way to say, “Please don’t serve salmon. I loathe it.”

A thoughtful host might ask you in advance about any food issues. Food allergies can be stated in advance; preferences (“I don’t like salmon”) should not. If you are not given the opportunity, you should “suffer” through whatever meal you are served, unless consuming it would make you physically ill. Being a good guest translates to appreciating the hospitality, even if you don’t like the food.

DEAR AMY: I am writing with regard to “Conflicted,” who wanted his wife to take a lie detector test so he could confirm whether she had been unfaithful to him. You addressed the consequences to the letter writer, his wife and their relationship. But this left the misimpression that any time someone doubts another person’s word, the matter can be conclusively resolved by submitting to a polygraph test. It is definitely not that simple.

I am a lawyer with a lot of experience representing individuals who have taken lie detector tests as part of the process of getting a security clearance. The polygraph cannot tell if someone is lying. It is just a machine that measures breathing, sweating and heart rate. The Supreme Court held that its results are not admissible in court.

There are many false positives and many false negatives. The test is most useful as a complex back-and-forth orchestrated by a skilled examiner. -- Elizabeth in D.C.

DEAR ELIZABETH: Thank you for clarifying.

Amy’s column appears seven days a week at www.washingtonpost.com/advice. Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2014 by the Chicago Tribune

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