Ask Amy: It takes a good friend to find a good date

February 23, 2013

DEAR AMY: I’m a 27-year-old black woman in graduate school. I have never been in any serious relationship, and am wondering if you have any advice on how to change this.

I’m attracted to men of different races, but find it difficult to make connections to many black men. My family is from Africa, and I was raised in the suburbs (read: surrounded by white people).

Black men sometimes don’t think I’m “black enough,” since I didn’t grow up in a black community and have different experiences being first-generation American. Men from other races don’t seem particularly drawn to me, and at this point I’m not really sure what to do.

I’m introverted and don’t open up very easily, although I’ve been actively trying to change this. I’ve also tried online dating on two very reputable dating Web sites, with no dates resulting from either.

I like myself and am trying to be my most authentic self, but am frustrated that no one special has ever come into my life. If you have any tips on how to change this, I would be very grateful. -- Chronically Single

DEAR SINGLE: You are thoughtfully analyzing this issue, which is a great start. And at the risk of oversimplifying, I think you could start by confiding in a good female friend, who might be able to give you some pointers that emphasize your best traits.

Maybe you should try a shorter (or longer or funnier or quirkier) “me statement.” But before you go full on into online dating, I would suggest taking advantage of the resources at the college, which you say has a diverse student population. Certainly you should embrace your background as a first-generation American as an asset that gives you interesting perspectives and intriguing narratives to use in conversation. Have you considered seeking out a social organization for fellow Africans, or other social organizations?

Join organizations that will take you outside your comfort zone. Use social settings to practice proactive flirting, interacting and being open to people from all sorts of backgrounds.

DEAR AMY: I have always valued family. My son married a young lady who treats us with very little respect. She has never cooked us a meal or purchased a gift for us. We try to see our grandchildren once a week. We travel an hour each way to stay for an hour or so.

They usually tell us to come over at 4 p.m. on Sunday and never invite us for dinner. Our son has made us dinner on the occasions she is gone.

I have also been told not to call or text her. She is a stay-at-home mom but all communication goes through my son. My son is a wonderful husband and father. He told me that he walks on eggshells. I know if I say anything she could restrict us further. Any advice? -- Grieving MIL

DEAR GRIEVING: If your son says he feels he is “walking on eggshells,” this is a sign that he might be in an abusive marriage. Abusers isolate their partners and restrict access to them. Abusers keep everyone (including children and their grandparents) off-kilter.

At this point, you and your husband should do everything you can to keep the door open. Keep going to the house and maintain contact with your son and the children as often as you can. Continue to emotionally support your son, and if you feel he is frightened (or if the situation seems to be deteriorating), you should urge him to see a lawyer.

DEAR AMY: I loved the letter from “Joan.” She wanted to take some money she was being given for her 50th birthday and spend it traveling to India.

I was a tour manager for over a decade, taking older people on trips all over the world. I cannot tell you how often I had people tell me they had saved their entire lives to travel, and then one of the spouses had passed away or was unable to physically make the trip to see and do all the things that had been dreamed about.

I took that vicarious lesson to heart. -- Tour Guide

DEAR GUIDE: The only readers advising against this trip were people who had never traveled. Thank you.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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