Tell Me About It

With Carolyn Hax
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 27, 2004; 12:00 PM

Carolyn takes your questions and comments about her current advice column and any other questions you might have about the strange train we call life. Her answers may appear online or in an upcoming column.

Appearing every Wednesday and Friday in The Washington Post Style section and in Sunday Source, Tell Me About It ? offers readers advice based on the experiences of someone who's been there -- really recently. Carolyn Hax is a 30-something repatriated New Englander with a liberal arts degree and a lot of opinions and that's about it, really, when you get right down to it. Oh, and the shoes. A lot of shoes.

Editor's Note: moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.


Washington, D.C.: Regarding your answer to the question asked on Wednesday about threesomes, what would your advice be to anyone in a committed relationship who was considering a threesome now?

Carolyn Hax: Don't do it. (See Q asked Wednesday.)


Roanoke, Va.: Happy Friday!

Recently a male friend of mine said that he wished a mutual female friend of ours was his type because she's really cool. This comment made me cranky and I can't figure out why, if it's the assumption that she would like him to or the stubborn attachment to a "type." Any light?

Carolyn Hax: I'd go with (b) stubborn attachment to a "type." The other is a pretty standard implication; not every "Oh I wish he were straight" or "Too bad she's married" represents an assumption that someone would like you.


San Francisco, Calif.: I am fat and having a terrible time trying to lose weight. I know a lot about the health aspects of obesity, nutrition, strategies for losing weight... but I am having a terrible terrible time motivating myself to stick with a diet and exercise program. Do you have any advice for me?

Carolyn Hax: First, make sure you're setting goals that work well with your natural eating habits, work habits and weaknesses. E.g., if you're a loner, walk or run; if you're social, pick up a dance or exercise class; don't go on Atkins if you're a bread nut. Don't have food lying around that you binge on, and if you work near a candy machine, bring your own munchies and allow yourself a candy bar only once or twice a week. The biggest mistake people seem to make is to ask themselves to make a complete life turnaround-starting NOW--and then get frustrated when that fails.

And if even setting easy, reachable goals doesn't work, hunt around for underlying reasons that you abuse food--loneliness, stress, fatigue, depression, comfort.

And in general--treat yourself as the great cause that you are. You'll lose focus here and there in the short term, as you would with anything, but stay with it long-term and you'll likely accomplish a lot.


Chicago, Ill.:
Dear C

Have been single for a long time, partly explicable by workload and chronic illness and partly due to the fact that there just hasn't been anyone to whom I've felt attracted enough for anything more than a few casual dates -- drinks, dinner, cinema, etc.

Now I have turned 28 (shock horror) my mother wants me to go to therapy to talk about my "lack of interest in men," as apparently she's worried that I may never marry and/or give her grandchildren.

While clearly I would probably be happier if I were with someone I liked rather than alone, I don't see that there is really a problem and I am certainly not going to start getting involved with people for whom I can muster little enthusiasm so as to make my mother happy.

What can I do with a mother like this?

Carolyn Hax: Laugh. I'm sorry.


Another phone number question: It's such a relief to be able to ask this, and after reading last week's chat, this is the place! I'm a single mother, grad student, working two jobs, late 30s... as you can imagine, I'm super over-scheduled right now. Once in a while to unwind I like to go to a bar with a friend, to get a little social interaction. I'm not in a relationship -- no time realistically -- and I miss flirting a bit and having someone look at my like I might be sexy. We just go to have a good time, not to meet people for a relationship. What do I do when someone asks for my phone number? This happens too much, and as I've always enjoyed talking with the gentleman, I don't want to hurt his feelings by saying I don't want to give him my number (nor be dishonest by giving him Walmart's number, which I've heard some women do). Truthfully, I think it's possible to enjoy an evening of light conversation with many, many more people than one would want to develop something further with, and while some might be offended if that rule is applied to them particularly, I don't think that's wrong. When I give out my number, they invariably call (inverse Murphy's law, it would seem), and I'm polite, but now I'm faced with having to tell them, when everyone's sober, that no, I don't want to see them again. Which I knew in the bar. Part of it is I'm a very light drinker (two drinks every six weeks or so?) who has lived with an alcoholic and come from an alcohol-prone family, and I don't want to pursue something with someone who "frequents" the bars. Most men I meet there are regulars and while charming, their habits make them unsuitable prospects. Please advise... my nights out are a much needed and enjoyed break, but for this little problem.

Carolyn Hax: Two things here. One is the easy surface question, what to say when men ask you for your number. "I'm enjoying this conversation tonight but, I'm sorry, it's all I have to offer right now." Or whatever version of same you feel comfortable saying. Warm and polite but unyielding.

Other thing, judging these guys who "frequent" the bars? No no no. Hello, you're there too (and apparently buzzed sometimes, if I'm reading your "when everyone's sober" comment correctly). I fully respect your need to be careful with alcohol yourself and with its role in the life of anyone you intend to date. But you're just flirting to get a little attention, so further speculation on these men's value based on where you're meeting them is premature and wildly unfair.


In Chicago's shoes: Felt like I was reading my own story!; I go out every once in a while but at this point in my life (working lots, adjusting to new state, etc) I'm just not interested in dating for the sake of dating. For me, it came down to this: work/friends mean more to me right now than dating. Once I realized there's nothing wrong with not feeling it, everyone else stop bugging me about it.

Carolyn Hax: Encouraging, thanks, but you are lucky--there are plenty of people who are happy to be single but nevertheless continually badgered by people who are unhappy they're so happy to be single.


New York, N.Y.: Hi, Carolyn.

Question: Would you agree that there's still sexual gamesmanship even when both participants are adults in their 30s? I read a question in E. Jean's advice column in Glamour, when a woman moaned that she'd done what she knew was stupid -- slept with a guy on the first date and of course he didn't call her after that. It really got to me -- if they both slept together, presumably they both wanted it, and yet somehow it's her mistake, she slipped up in "the game," and she bears the blame. Why is it still incumbent upon the woman to say no?

It's driving me crazy because I just started a relationship, and am now worrying about when to say yes. How soon is too soon? For purely carnal reasons, I'd like to say yes now, but we've been dating for two weeks -- is that too soon? How do you decide these things?

Carolyn Hax: It's incumbent upon each of us, male or female, to behave according to our own beliefs. If she believes it's stupid to sleep with a guy on the first date, she shouldn't have slept with a guy on the first date. Likewise, if a guy is going to judge a woman for having sex on a first date, he should so judge himself, or say no.

Are there still double standards? Of course. There are also loser men who apply them, and loser women who apply them, and losers of both stripes who let others get away with holding them to double standards.

Which is why it comes back to: pick your beliefs, adhere to them as well as you can, expect that you'll blow it every once in a while, and, when a you do blow it and a person doesn't call you back or otherwise forgive you for it, be grateful you found out early that this person wasn't for you.

E. Jean writes for Elle, I believe.


State of Contentment: Can I simply share how I'm feeling?

I'm habitually single, haven't had sex in MONTHS, my job is crazy crazy busy, still need to lose some weight, still have debt, still wish I had the SATC type of women friends, HOWEVER, I feel better than I have in a long long time.

I have a life that I like, it keeps me busy and active, I do exercise and am interested in doing more, am meeting people through a support group, am productive at my job and am slowly getting back to paying my bills. And after months of not vacuuming (who has the time) I finally hit my carpet.

Life is good, not perfect, but good.

Thanks for listening.

Carolyn Hax: No no, thanks for writing. Perfection never happens, so I'm with you--progress is enough.

Oh, and very few people have SATC-type friends.


For San Francisco: It might help if you try to be healthier -- make better choices -- and implement them in small steps. (Baby steps, baby steps!) Make one small change per month. For example, a non-caloric drink with lunch every day instead of soda for month 1. For month two, Special K, Cheerios, or oatmeal for breakfast twice a week instead of the usual muffin. For month three, two long walks/bike rides/exercise classes/whatever, a week.

Each month, add one more healthful habit to your life. If one of these things ends up not appealing to you over the long haul, find another good habit that works for you to replace it.

You don't want a diet and exercise plan; you want a more healthful lifestyle, one that will be long term and not only help you to lose weight, but to keep it off.

Carolyn Hax: Nice ideas, thanks.


Repeat until you believe: for Chicago...

It's not my problem, it's their problem.
It's not my problem, it's their problem.
It's not my problem, it's their problem.
It's not my problem, it's their problem.
It's not my problem, it's their problem.

Carolyn Hax: Freaky--that's the soundtrack in my head.


Meds: So, Carolyn, I was wondering how you feel about telling people in your life you are taking an anti-depressant. In particular, I started seeing a new guy and I'm not sure when to tell him I am taking them, or if there is really even a need to ever tell him. If it matters, I am taking them because I am in therapy to deal with some abuse from my childhood and taking them helps keep me from being overwhelmed by the emotions that come up in therapy.

Carolyn Hax: When you get to the point that you'd feel lied to if he were withholding that same information. Not perfect, but Golden.


Washington, D.C.: Need some perspective here -- how unreasonable is it to feel let down when a husband offers to do something, unprompted, then doesn't do it?

Most recent example: Husband, from home, e-mails to ask if beef is OK for dinner, he'll take it out of the freezer. I respond that would be great. I get home, husband is asleep, beef is still in freezer, and there's nothing we can have for dinner.

He maintains that by offering to go get me "anything I want" I shouldn't be annoyed.

But I got home hungry, ready to eat (or at least start making dinner), and having to figure out what to do just really left me feeled PO'ed.

Your thoughts?

Carolyn Hax: Question is, how let down is reasonable? If he continually promises to shoulder his share of the domestic responsibilities and continually fails to come through, you have a legitimate (can't help myself) beef. That suggests a trend of passive aggressive behavior that you ought to point out and protest.

If he forgot something just this once, come off it and dial a 'za.


SATC?: Admitting my ignorance -- what does SATC stand for?

Carolyn Hax: Sex and the City. Sorry.


People in Bars: I hate this urban myth that no one who is at a bar is worthing dating - especially when perpetuated by bar-goers. For the record, I've met two great guys in bars - and I've been married to one of them for almost four years. Perfectly pleasant people socialize in bars. Thank you for allowing my rant.

Carolyn Hax: No no, thank you--less typing for me.


Washington, D.C.: "You're telling them you can see what their future looks like better than they can, because you've crossed over to the exalted other side. That's why it's patronizing."

Perfectly said. Carolyn, I wish I could carry you around with me to explain this sort of thing to people whenever it comes up.

Carolyn Hax: You might need a dolly, since I'm about 175 lbs and counting.


Washington, DC: My boyfriend has to travel occasionally for business with a woman he dated for six months about 1 1/2 yrs ago. I don't like it. Am I being immature, or is this normal? I mean I REALLY don't like it.

Carolyn Hax: Depends, I suppose, on the circumstances of those six months and particularly of the end of them. Did he dump her, or did they mutually, relievedly (that a word?) part ways? Or did she knock his socks off/rock his world/show him the meaning of love and then change her mind abruptly to start a business-trip affair with a coworker? Context is everything.

Well, everything but this: There's nothing you can do about it, so you might as well spend those travel days finding new ways not to get worked up about it. Trust would be my first suggestion.


Washington, D.C.: What does it mean when you're dating a 25 year old guy and he refers to the girl he first fell in love with way back when as his "high school sweetheart" in normal conversation? By my math, he has been out of high school for about 7-8 years. Why still refer to this girl that way? They don't talk anymore. I don't even know her name. He brings it up and refers to her like that.

Carolyn Hax: Idunno, why don't you ask? Just say it hits your ear funny and so you wonder why he uses that term. Might just be b/c if he said "Sally," you'd have no idea who he was talking about.


Washington, D.C.: Hi Carolyn,

I was dating a guy who moved to the area about a week before we started dating. We dated on and off for four or so months. It was never a defined "relationship" but I definitely had strong feelings for him (still do). Thing is, he always seemed to fit me in when he had time. I finally brought that up to him that maybe we should be just friends and at first he said okay and then changed his mind. Things continued the same and I brought it up again and we decided to be just friends. Then, the first time we hung out as "friends" we ended up hooking up. He has been clear (with his words -- this was a month ago) that he is not in a place for a relationship, but his actions (calling me -- the way we talk, and wanting to hang out) say otherwise. I don't know what to do. It is hard for me to be "just friends" and I keep hoping that he'll change his mind. Any advice?

Carolyn Hax: He won't change his mind. He will fit you in when and only when he has time. Do with this only what you think will make you happy ... actually, start with what will make you the least miserable, and then work your way toward happy. Getting jerked around while you pine helplessly for more? Taking what little you can get and learning to like it? Leaving and getting over him? Your choice.


175 pounds: Those of us who weigh 175 pounds (or more), non-pregnant, could have done without the "dolly" remark. Thanks.

Carolyn Hax: I'm sorry--certainly didn't mean to thwack anyone but myself.


re: Meds: I don't think it has to be a big deal to tell a new partner about being in therapy/on antidepressants. In my experience, times I've make a big, I-have-to-tell-you-something moment about something like that, it makes the listener think it's much freakier than it needs to be. Easier said than done, but if s/he splits over SSRI's, s/he's not worth it. I vote to let it come up naturally, e.g. "I bought pears after therapy and then went to the gym."

Also, make sure you're not just telling him/her just to get support with your issues and things. There's nothing wrong with wanting help from a partner, but be honest about your methods.

Carolyn Hax: Good points, thanks.


Bethesda, Md.: I'm in a good relationship with my girlfriend, living together and thinking, maybe, about something more. I'm active and she is more stay-at-home. I just met another girl, though, more active like me. She has a boyfriend that appears serious, and we're treating things as a friendship so far. But, I can feel a strong connection developing and I think she can, too.

There is a question here I promise: What are clues to help me distinguish between a dumb crush, and someone with whom I may actually have a better connection in the long run? And is it wrong to even think that way about a girl who already has a boyfriend, while I already have a girlfriend?

Carolyn Hax: I think the whole other-girl issue is a red herring. She is hardly the only woman on Earth who is more active like you. The question is, would you ultimately be happier going through life in a relationship as good as the one with your girlfriend, except with someone who is equally active? If the answer is yes, then time to give serious thought to how serious you are with the current girlfriend. You don't have to settle down with the first person you like.


D.C. Cube: What does it mean when a 23-year-old woman cares whether you refer to your first girlfriend as your high-school sweetheart?

My guess is a girlfriend who's a combination of high maintenance and not enough to worry about.

Carolyn Hax: Or just someone who hears the word "sweetheart" used without irony and feels her gag reflex kicking in.


Re: High School Sweetheart: I don't see anything wrong with this. I had a boyfriend in college; he was my "college boyfriend."

Would she prefer he refer to his high school sweetheart as "a girl I dated while I was in high school"? "High school sweetheart" kind of sums it up nicely.

Somehow, I suspect the language is not what bothers her so much as this guy had a sweetheart before her... which seems a little silly for a mid-20s person to object to.

Carolyn Hax: ... But if it's the latter, I agree with you both.


Alexandria, Va.: Blame Game:

Just have to comment. I am a woman and most of my friends are male (which is why I am single)

A male friend of mine told me something I've never forgot-It may not be fair, but here it is.

If a woman sleeps with you on her first date considering there's only so much you can learn from someone in that period of time, how often does she do this?

And regardless of how good it was or how nice she is, the guy is not going to call.

like I said, not fair but it's the way it is.

Single for Life (and loving it, regardless of what my friends say) ick.

Carolyn Hax: Liz, that's an understatement.


Alexandria, you're friends with a posse of jerks.


Re: Washington, D.C.: When you said "you might need a dolly," I for some reason thought of a talking Carolyn Hax doll, like the talking Ann Coulter doll. Just the way my sick mind works?

Carolyn Hax: There's a talking Ann Coulter doll? Talk about sick.


Wife with "trampy" past: Wowie Carolyn, I'm surprised you said the guy should leave his wife if he can't accept her past. I wouldn't have been surprised at your advice if these were boyfriend/girlfriend, but isn't there some unwritten rule that friends and advice columnists never advise leaving one's spouse unless abuse is involved? Care to elaborate on your thinking?

Trust me, no one loves it more than me that you try to offer advice other than the standard "get counseling," but that definitely seems like the preferable option for this guy if he can't get over his wife's past. He needs to get to the bottom of why he feels threatened by something that happened his wife did before they were together.

Carolyn Hax: I put myself in the wife's shoes, and imagined what it would be like living with a guy who was never ever going to let me forget something I did in college, and saw unequivocally that I would rather be alone than with him. Not so surprising, I hope, when you look at it that way.


Washington, D.C.: Hi Carolyn,

I figured you'd be the right person to ask about this. I'm the proud mother to two kids under the age of two -- they're 20 months and 4 months old. Often I feel so overwhelmed with all the care they require that I feel like I'm not really enjoying my kids the way that I should. I find myself daydreaming about how nice it will be in a few years when the kids can play a little more independently, and then I feel awful for having those thoughts because I don't want to wish away the wonderful moments of these first few years.

Am I alone? Or do other parents feel this way, too? I've tried talking with some friends about it but things seem to be going swimmingly for everyone else. Meanwhile I'm exhausted and feel like I'm barely keeping up. I feel like it's all about laundry, bathtime, naptime, bedtime, cleaning bottles, etc. I really don't think it's PPD. My husband helps out greatly with the kids, so that's not an issue. I guess I'm just wondering if there are other parents in the same boat... peanuts?

Carolyn Hax: I'll post from peanuts, but I can tell you before they even weigh in that you are far from alone.

FWIW, I think you should also look into the possibility of post-partum depression. You come pretty close to describing the symptoms, for one, and: Why dismiss the possibility out of hand when you know you're unhappy and when you're actively seeking relief? If anything, I think it would be a weight off your shoulders to know that you have a diagnosable, treatable explanation for what's going on.

When you check with your doctor (please, please, please check in with your doctor), ask for referrals to local mommy support groups. Also consider hiring someone, even a local HS student, even for an hour or two a couple of times a week, as a mother's helper. Someone who can do some laundry or dishes or stroll the kids for an hour while you sit in a stupor and try to remember who you were before kids. Just that little break can be magic.

_______________________ Not quite Boohbah, but... Talking Ann Coulter doll Carolyn Hax: Just promise me the doll won't get its own TV show too.


Re: ICK and seconding ick: Regarding Alexandria and her males friends... you may think it is ick but there is no doubt that Alexandria's male friends speak the truth.

Life ain't fair but that is DEFINTELY the way it is and DEFINITELY the way men think. Any woman who thinks otherwise is kidding herself.

I'm a girl and I am 100 percent in agreement with Alexandria's friends. If you want men's respect don't sleep with them on a first date no matter how nice they seem.

Carolyn Hax: Actually, it's ick and seconding ICK, but who's counting.

Any woman who supports this line of thinking, especially by letting her friends spout it without challenge, is as much a part of the problem as the men who make up 50 percent of a one-night stand and then assign 100 percent of the blame on the women. How can you live with yourselves?


Male response: ICK is right although I'm saying it with a deeper voice. I'm a guy, played on plenty of sports teams, hung out with "the boys", went to all-male school, and I agree with Liz and Carolyn. You are hanging out with bottom dwellers. Sadly, there are still some archaic beliefs out there that both sexes are keeping alive. Treat people the way you would want to be treated, judge the way that you would want to be judged.

Carolyn Hax: I'd kiss you, but someone would read it all wrong.


First Date, D.C.: I just married a woman who, on our first date, schemed to get us alone and then ripped my clothes off the second we were. Sexiest thing that ever happened to me and four years later we haven't looked back. Confident girls ROCK!

Carolyn Hax: You too. Bless your just and lusty heart.


Washington, D.C., first date: Hey C-Hax! The reason people don't call after a first date dalliance is that it's too damn early and it's uncomfortable. All the other supposed implications about the lady in question are just rationalizations for the (totally normal) fear and discomfort of a way too intimate moment with someone you don't know at all.

Carolyn Hax: I like the point, as long as we append the fact that people are lame to indulge their fears and their rationalization/blame impulses, instead of just calling and facing what they've done. Thanks.


Alone Mom: The advice about a mom's helper a few hours a week is great -- and I advise you make some of those hours when your husband is free, too, so you and he can remember who you were, together, before the kids. Doesn't have to be prime Saturday night time, either.

Carolyn Hax: Yes yes yes. Never forget why you fell in love. Thanks. If you feel guilty about it, think of it as one of the best things you can do for your kids.


Threeso, ME: I was very amused by the writer who found out his wife of five years had a threesome in college, and mentions it was with two men. I wonder what his reaction would have been if it had been a guy and two girls. My guess is his disgust would have instead been excitement (of course, being a fellow pig, on learning of either situation, my reactions would have been "tramp" and "cool", respectively). So what if she got double-teamed. Your advice was right on Caroline. Ya Caroline.

Carolyn Hax: Hey, be nice--he's agreeing with me.



Am I a big drinker?: Hi Carolyn -

In response to the question above from the woman who was sort of judging guys she met in bars, I have a question. I am 24, live in a city, and most of the guys I meet to go on dates with, I've met in a bar or a houseparty. My dad is always really cross about this; he says that these guys are unsuitable if I met them while drinking, and "what kind of person meets their future spouse in a bar anyway?" Is this just a generational thing (ie - now it's not frowned upon for people to hang out in mixed groups and drink) or is this truly not the place to be meeting men?

Carolyn Hax: This is truly not the detail to be sharing with a judgmental father. To your own private life be true, starting now, please.


Proud mama here....: I appreciate what you're saying about PPD. I guess it can't hurt to look further into this but I truly don't think that's what's going on. I'm not unhappy at all. On a day-to-day basis, I'm cheerful and upbeat with my kids and husband. It's just that I feel like everything I'm doing is all about maintenance and not about fun, enjoyable time together. If I slack off with all the "chores" for a while so that I can have more playtime, the chores pile up to the point that they're overwhelming and the whole cycle starts over. I love your suggestion about a mother's helper -- that just might be the right answer!;

Carolyn Hax: Okay, I see what you're saying. Still please do follow up on the overwhelmed feelings, because they can coexist with cheerful-and-upbeat and therefore sneak up on you. But now I;m also going to recommend a change of perspective--babies ARE all about maintenance. The "fun" you're talking about is, from what I've seen, the little milestones you reach together between feedings and diaper changes. It's not like you're all going to play a family game of Monopoly. You establish eye contact, you get your first smile, you start a giggle fit, you inhale this amazing baby smell, you have this little person curled up on your chest. That's what it's all about, five minutes of bliss while the laundry sits in a pile. Then, laundry.

Or, as I said, 10 bucks an hour to a grateful 16-year-old while you read an actual newspaper.


For the Washington, D.C. mom: You're SO not alone. I went through similar feelings after the birth of my daughter. I found myself longing for some alone time, which only made me feel more guilty. To top it off, I got fired from my job (mostly because I now had a child and my bosses felt I wasn't going to be able to devote myself 100 percent to my job). For the longest time, I felt that nothing was wrong and I was going through normal "new-mom" stuff. My husband finally pulled me aside one night and told me that I just wasn't being myself and that he thought I should talk to someone. My doctor ended up prescribing a mild anti-depressant, and it made all the difference. It's like a cloud lifted and I could multitask all over again. Most importantly, I started carving out free-time without baby or husband for myself without guilt. It made all the difference in the world to go out shopping or just sit and read a magazine uninterrupted. The point is, you could have mild PPD without even knowing it. Hang in there!

Carolyn Hax: Thanks for the testimonial.

Wish I had a Talking Lawyer Doll to tell me whether your firing was even legal. Eesh.


Never Looked B, AK: Two comments from this peanut:

For me, going "too far" on the first date has led to 14 years of marriage and counting. (I'm the guy. Obviously, I called -- or did she? I can't remember and it doesn't matter.) So spare us the generalizations, folks.

For the woman with two small children -- don't beat yourself up! It's tough, especially if they take a long time to start sleeping through the night. I often felt like we were in a long dark tunnel with only a promise of light in the far-off distance. I had the 3 a.m. Cartoon Channel lineup memorized and we were always tired. They were often sick, barfing on relatives, pooing in the tub, you name it. Basically, the idea that your time with them when they are under 2 is supposed to be idyllic is a crock. The rewards come later. Think about the day you'll be able to embarrass them in front of their friends by telling them what a handful they were.

Carolyn Hax: I'd focus on the tub poo.

Thank you and other peanuts who posted. There are many along these lines so I won't flood the transcript with more.


Oh! Oh! I know the answer! Call on me!: I know the answer to the question you asked the hubby of the threesome wife to ask himself. You know this question:

"That's where you ask yourself whether the collegiate you would have turned away a two-girl opportunity."

Of course we would have participated in the threesome. He just wouldn't have married either of those girls or probably ever even called them again because they were too slutty.

I bet this is exactly what he thought when he read that question and STILL doesn't recognize the double standard he adheres to when considering the two girls he himself participated in the threesome with as slutty.

I think the double standard of women being whores and men being heroes where sexual conquests are concerned may be one of the most impossible to overcome in our society.

Carolyn Hax: Maybe the Darwinian approach has promise--women take it upon themselves to reject men who embrace that double standard, consciously or un-, and instead mate only with evolved men. Call it the survival of the fairest.


re: Stupid Things: Another tactic to try when Past Stupid Thing is thrown back in your face: "Well, yes, I did do that, but here is what I learned..."

Unless you can't do that without glorifying it ("Setting off a hundred fireworks can be really dangerous -- like the time I burned my eyebrows off. The fire works looked awesome though.")

Carolyn Hax: Well wait a minute--if they did look awesome and that's part of the experience in your mind, then you should embrace it. I don't like the idea of manufacturing remorse just to pass some current lover's morality test. You did what you did, you feel what you feel, you say both and see what comes next.


Maryland: My sister hired two child development majors from a local college. Not only did she get great help, but they got college credit for independent study.

She went to their graduations and they recommended other students to replace them. Very Win-Win

Carolyn Hax: This is such a good suggestion I want to hoard it for myself. Thanks.

Assuing they didn't show the kids ink blots or anything.


For the fired mom: The mom who posted on Feb. 27 about getting fired after she had a baby should see an employment lawyer, though depending on how long ago the firing was, the time for filing a complaint might have expired (I'm a lawyer but this area is not my specialty). We cannot let employers get away with this kind of discrimination.

Carolyn Hax: Thanks for the info.


Call it the survival of the fairest: Yeah, that'll happen.

Let's lump it on the stack with Men getting over the "Supermodel with a heart of gold" routine, and women ceasing to find jerks "confident and self-assured."

I suggest no one hold their breath on this.

Carolyn Hax: I am holding my breath, but seeing funny blue spots.


Great Vacation Spot: I have the luck to live in an area that is beautiful during the summer. So beautiful in fact, that it's a huge tourist trap. As a result, many of my friends want to visit me during the summer.

Which is great, because I love seeing my friends. However, for the past two summers I have used all of my yearly vacation on the holidays at home, and being at home here playing hostess.

My friends have already started e-mailing about a convenient time to visit. They're all fairly young, like me, and can't afford vacations where they have to pay for hotel, etc., and soforth on top of actually DOING stuff. I am a cheap alternative.

However, I want to get the hell out of this too-crowded place during the summer. I want to go someplace else. I am tired of familiar spaces being my vacation (ie: here and hometown) and I don't want to use up my vacation. Plus, the house is always full.

How do I diplomatically poo all over their plans to see me and enjoy the summer? How do I put the kibosh on their plans without seeming like a witch. I feel like I'll be ruining their funky good time, but at the same time, I really really want to hop a plane someplace and enjoy myself.

Carolyn Hax: Tell them they're welcome but they have to amuse themselves while you're at work--or that you're sorry you're houseguested out and going away somewhere else this summer. Saying no does not make you a witch--another societal miscue I'd like to see die a quick death.


Anywhere, USA: Long story short -- I know I am reading it right when I tell you we are both falling for each other. I usually run away, but am captivated. Seems like he is trying to run away, but not too far away. It hasn't been that long that we've been together. How can I try to keep him without being "that psycho girl" and without beating myself up and running screaming in the opposite direction?

Carolyn Hax: If you don't trust yourself to move in the right direction, stand still. And don't "try to keep him," ugh. Just go about your business, call him when you have a good reason and don't when you don't, and see who he turns out to be.


Los Angeles, Calif.: I like to be on my own a lot, reading, drawing, wandering. I seem to need a lot more down-time than other people. I don't think its out of loneliness or fear of rejection. So do I accept that I'm programmed that way or keep kicking myself to "get out there?"

Carolyn Hax: Not if you genuinely don't like what's "out there." Happiness takes many shapes.


Carolyn Hax: Not sure a talking Ann Coulter doll qualifies.


re Great Vacation Spot: GET A SPINE!;

You are letting your friends take advantage of you. And they're letting you do it.

Just say no.

Obviously, they're not returning the favor of their house for your vacation.

Carolyn Hax: I'm way too nice. Thanks.


ick-ville: You are SO confusing reality with the way you WANT things to be. Men will rarely respect women who they sleep with on a first date. It may be icky, revolting, old-fashioned, and/or piggish, but it is also a FACT OF LIFE. You cannot change this by wishing men were more evolved.

Carolyn Hax: No, you change it by demanding they be. What is this, Victim Day?


Carolyn Hax: I'm doing it again, looking for a Q to end on. Sorry.


Washington, D.C.: Carolyn,
My mother (turning 60 this year) is beginning to exhibit signs of Alzheimers, or at the very least the adult version of ADHD. How can my father and I convince her to see a doctor? She says that we're being overly critical and impatient with her but I know something is wrong and I want to deal with it sooner rather than later... obviously this is a touchy subject.

Carolyn Hax: Please talk to a pro about this--either make an appointment with a counselor trained to help families of Alzheimer's patients (look for a local Alzheimer's association), or call a local hospital, senior center, etc. and ask for the name of someone you can meet with to advise you on how to approach your mom about X troubling symptoms. This is a big problem, but it's one with, I understand, big resources to help you address it. Her regular doctor, too, might be able to advise you and/or examine and talk to her in a way that's less upsetting than a chorus of family pleas.


Carolyn Hax: Hookay, off I go. Thanks everybody, happy weekend and type to you next Friday.


Alzheimers: Doesn't have to be that or ADHD, and perhaps the approach to take is, "You know, these things can be caused by chemical imbalances or malnutrition, and I'd like to make sure you're okay, Mom."

Carolyn Hax: Worth a try, thanks.


© 2004 The Washington Post Company