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Tell Me About It

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With Carolyn Hax
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 16, 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: Washingtonpost.com 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.

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In-law Hell, Tex.: Good morning, Carolyn!

Any suggestions on how I can learn to either like my parents in-law or learn to pretend like I do? I'm normally a pretty nice person, but they get on my nerves so much when they visit, I end up being very withdrawn and, admittedly, rather cranky. I'm watching myself behave this way, and I can't snap out of it. Why are in-law relationships so difficult?

Carolyn Hax: Find things you like about them and dwell on those. Part of any simmering hatred for anyone is the process, usually un- or semi-conscious, of singling out things you hate and noting them every time they happen--usually as a way to justify how much you hate the person. So, force yourself to reverse the process.

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Carolyn Hax: Actually, it's not unlike what a lot of people do when they dread the thought of having to break up with someone--they look for reasons to justify staying. Amazing what one mindset change can do.

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Washington, D.C.: Carolyn,

After taking some time to find myself, I've started dating again. Or at least trying to. I keep meeting nice, but homely looking women.

And while I'd trade looks for brains any day, I just have this vision of meeting a girl one day who has the smarts, personality, and makes me weak at the knees.

Increasingly I find myself taking a second look at some girl I just met and wondering to myself -- "can I settle for this and still be happy? Sure, she's not that hot, but she's nice and friendly."

At what point is this my 30-something-and-single phobia blinding me and when is it a reasonable compromise that I need to make to get on with life?

Carolyn Hax: Are you hot? Just curious.

So-called "homely" people have a way of growing attractive when you become attracted to them as people. If you persist in using your first, physical impressions as final rulings, I think you'll persist in being 30-something-and-single phobic.

This isn't "compromising," a condescending and ultimately self-defeating process that diminishes all involved. It's growing up.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi! So glad to see you with us today. How are you feeling?

Carolyn Hax: Thanks! Enormous. You?

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Follow-up: I wrote several months ago about a friend whose BF said he would have to leave her if she were ever raped. Well, over time she found out that he was possessive and controlling in many ways (shocker!) She got tired of it and left him. He begged and pleaded and cried for her back, but the damage was done. I'm not even sure she shed a single tear for him, ha! Just wanted to check back in.

Carolyn Hax: Love a happy ending, thanks.

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HELP!: Been seeing guy for two years now. Last weekend I was out with a friend and we met up at a bar with guy, and a friend of his who is new in town. Guy and his friend came together and left together. Twenty minutes later the friend comes back into the bar, asks me for my card, saying he needs a lawyer (my profession). Today I get an e-mail from the friend, and he is clearly NOT asking for legal advice. Do I tell guy that friend seems to be hitting on me? Should I ask guy what's up with his friend? Or do I deal with the friend on my own first, then tell guy about it later? I could be wrong about the hitting on me part (it's not like he said "hey baby wanna go out?"); and perhaps I'm thinking too much of myself. Something about the whole scenario seems strange to me. Any advice you can give me I'd appreciate, since this is happening to me RIGHT NOW.

Carolyn Hax: Deflect politely anything that strikes you as an advance, and leave it at that. One small benefit of one small doubt. If he becomes more persistent or overt, then go the "What's up with your friend" route with the guy you're seeing.

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Too embarrassed for a non-anonymous question: Short version: I was raped several years ago. I am finally in a wonderful, stable relationship but am having major issues with sex. Basically, my body doesn't want to let my boyfriend make love to me a large portion of the time, or at least I take a really long time to warm up. Consequently, he feels rejected and then physically can't do anything. Also, even when we do make love, it's been painful for me, which makes him feel like he's going to hurt me all of the time, and therefore he can't physically do anything. It's gotten to the point where he feels like he's not the man for me, which then increases the likelihood of us having problems. We're just at our wits' end as to what to do. Do you have any suggestions? Peanuts?

Carolyn Hax: You've left out a couple of crucial details. Does he know you were raped, and that your current problems stem from the rape? And have you gotten counseling?

You have nothing to be embarrassed about. And, even if you have had counseling and your boyfriend does know what happened, there's no reason you can't take this problem to a pro. Please call the DC Rape Crisis Center if you're local, 202-333-RAPE, and RAINN if you're not--800-656-4673.

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Las Vegas, Nev.: Hi Carolyn -- Four years ago I went to visit my brother while he was living in california. I met one of his friends, David. We really hit it off and ended up sleeping together. My vacation ended and I went home (back east), we kept in touch for a while, writing letters and such, but eventually lost touch. Now, I have moved to vegas and I saw him at a party my brother threw. When we saw each other, we hugged and said hello -- I felt very comfortable. Throughout the course of the party, he asked to share my cigarette or a sip of my drink -- he even asked to use my chapstick, all of which I shared with pleasure. When the party concluded, he gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek and that was that. Now, I am interested in possibly spending some time with him and seeing where things could lead. Although he failed to say here's my number, call me sometime or anything like that. He knows that I can get his number from my brother, but was that his way of letting me know that he's not interested? How should I take this and what can I do with out invading his space? Please help! Thanks and happy Friday!

Carolyn Hax: Many opportunities, no decisive moves? That was his way of letting you know that he's not interested. I'm sorry.

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Whatever happened to Hickville?: Is she okay? Do you know?

Carolyn Hax: Coming right up.

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Sorry to say you're wrong on this one Haxie!;: I don't think it is a form of "growing up" to settle for someone who you don't think is hot. That's depressing...I don't think wanting to be with someone you find attractive is immature.

Carolyn Hax: Three words: Read the answer.

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For HELP!: He asked for your card because he said he needed a lawyer? Seems like you're entitled to respond to the e-mail and say "hey, didn't I recall you had a legal question you needed help with?" Maybe just a throw-away, but it does open up an opportunity for him to say "no, I just wanted an excuse to get to know you better" or what have you.

Carolyn Hax: Like it, thanks.

Looking for Hickville ... just saw it a second ago ...

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Baltimore, Md.: I have just turned 35 and looking back don't feel like I'm heading in the right direction or that I have accomplished near what I am capable of. I want to get into shape, go back to school and live a healthier, wealthier life. The problem is I can't seem to motivate myself. I need a fire lit under my butt, but I can't seem to muster a spark. Please help.

Carolyn Hax: Pick one thing, break it into small, doable steps, and then do it. (E.g., start taking two 30-min walks a week, then switch from soda to water, etc.) And only when one step is thoroughly incorporated into your routine should you move onto the next thing. Drastic changes lead to drastic expectations lead to discouragement leads to stasis.

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Hickville, USA: Yes, any information you want to post online is fine. I am doing much better. I've pretty much thrown myself into life, and am doing my best to enjoy it. As far as my parents go, I will learn to deal, they are who they are. Now that I'm actually looking for it, I find metaphors in everything. Like, in the play I'm in, "The Crucible." I play Elizabeth Proctor. There are so many hidden lessons in that play that you will only find if you look for them. I know that sounds a little odd, but oh well. Thank you so much for your concern.

Carolyn Hax: Great, thanks so much for checking back in. (Note to readers: The "any information you want to post online" is a reference to something Hickville sent in last Friday that I was reluctant to post because it contained potentially sensitive info.)

It sounds like your attitude toward your parents is a workable one, and healthy for the long run. I'm nevertheless going to urge again that, should you ever find yourself in real crisis, you at least consider letting them know. I understand they've got a rigid image of you. But they're still your parents, and they still want the best for you, wrongheaded as the end results may seem to you, and if it were ever a matter of your potentially hurting yourself, I have to think they'd want a chance to shed their prejudices and come through for you.

Of course, neither of us can know how they'd do in that situation, which is why I'm also going to urge, again, that you enlist the help of another adult--just as an ear, since you're doing much better now. But that's why now is such a good time to approach someone. It'll be a lot easier to choose and talk to that person now, when you're feeling good, than if you wait till you're on a downswing again.

Okay lecture over. Thanks again for the posts.

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Mid-Atlantic: Carolyn,

Is it ever appropriate to give pre-marital counseling sessions as a gift to an engaged couple who hasn't asked for them? I am very close to a couple that is getting married in a few months. They won't be going through any religious-based counseling sessions beforehand, and for what it's worth, they wouldn't be able to afford counseling on their own even if they wanted it. Many people have valid concerns about their readiness for this step, and have expressed this concern in the form of questions to the couple: e.g. "have you considered how you'll deal with her desire not to have a job with the financial goals that you share?" But these two are in a "love will conquer all" mindset that precludes any careful thought on their part about the big step they're about to take. I know it seems totally tacky to give a gift of counseling (and how on earth could it be done without offending the bride and groom?), but it would be great for these two to get some professional guidance before they tie the knot. Any advice?

Carolyn Hax: If giving them the counseling opportunity is more important to you than maintaining your relationship with the couple, then give the gift. If for whatever reason it would be more disruptive to create a rift between you and the couple than it would to let their marriage play out without intervention, then don't give the gift.

It really is no one's place but the couple's to deem their marriage wise or unwise; we outsiders are entitled only to our suspicions, hunches, etc. Often they are excellent and well-founded suspicions, hunches, etc.--but that still doesn't elevate them to the level of actual knowledge. So, that means anyone who intervenes runs the risk of appearing presumptuous, and that's the risk you have to weigh against what you hope to accomplish.

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Singleville -- Online Only Please: Hey Carolyn,

Just recently broke up with my girlfriend of six years and even though we have never lived together, she refuses to accept the breakup. I'm being blamed for ruining her life and more, then in the next breath she's willing and planning to wait for me to figure out my feelings and come back. I told her not to, but she insists it is her choice and would rather have that than nothing at all. I would be her friend (yeah, I know) because I think she's basically a good person and I do love her, but I've lost the affectionate feelings. It's not right to continue the relationship under these circumstances besides not being fair to her or me. She's angry and hurt which I totally understand, but how can I be there for her when she wants more than I willing to give? She's not working right now; it's been a month or so. Says that I'm abandoning her, now she'll be alone, will never have another relationship and it's my fault. My kid left for college two years ago and hers leaves this fall. I'm not with anyone else, so basically she's hearing I'd rather be alone than in a relationship with her which is kind of true. I feel horrible about hurting her this way. What do I do now? I would "be there" for her in every way possible except as a boyfriend, but since I'm not, I don't think she would turn to me for help. I don't think she would hurt herself, but I also didn't think she would react this way either; not that I expected it to be easy.

At least the weather is clearing.

Carolyn Hax: "Manipulation, what a show ..." (sung to the tune of the Inquisition song in "History of the World Part I).

Wow. She is working you over, hard. This is not your fault, you are not abondoning her, you are not responsible for the rest of her life. You owe her an honest, firm, compassionate breakup. If you've met that obligation, point your horse toward the sunset and giddy.

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Re: Las Vegas: He didn't make any "decisive moves," so he's not interested? What about her -- she did the exact same thing. Maybe he was waiting on her to make a move. Sounds like you have succumbed to a classic gender double standard, Carolyn. Anyway, what could it possibly hurt for her to call him? Many (enlightened) men appreciate it when women take the lead in romance. Give it a shot, Las Vegas!

Carolyn Hax: Pop quiz: How many of you guys read that question and came away with any doubt that she made it known she was available?

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Insta-question: I just (just! like since this chat started) found out that my 10 year high school reunion is this weekend, approximately 2,500 miles from here. Despite the fact that I have an updated address and e-mail listed in our alumna group, I was not invited. Apparently there are a great number of people who were not invited -- people that the organizers didn't feel were necessary, apparently because we weren't popular enough in high school.

In some ways, I'm apalled that they could still be so freaking high-schoolish 10 years down the line. In other ways, I'm thinking that if that's how they want to be, it's probably better that I didn't spend a $1,000 to fly home in order to be snubbed. In still more ways, I'm tempted to gather together as many of the non-invitees as possible and crash (if you can really be said to be crashing your own reunion) the party, expense of a last minute cross continent flight be damned.

What do you think, Carolyn? I can still make the cocktail party if I leave for the airport in the next hour.

Carolyn Hax: I have never heard of a class reunion to which only part of the class was invited. Has anyone called the organizers?

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Re: Premaritial Counseling: DON'T.

I got married three years ago and a presumptuous "friend" kept giving me advice literature and even information on divorce. Not a nice thought while wedding planning. I asked her to stop. She didn't. Said it was for my own good. Needless to say I'm no longer friends with this woman.

Carolyn Hax: Me point exactly. Thanks.

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Collegeville, USA: Hey Carolyn! Any advice on what to do when I walk in the house and immediately see one of my roommates either straddling (and facing) her boyfriend or laying on top of him on the living room couch? They never move off of each other and usualy make a beeline up the stairs, but sometimes they like to start conversations wtih me (while still on top of each other), which is, needless to say, very awkward.

Thanks and best wishes for a great delivery!

Carolyn Hax: Thanks!

Just ask them to disengage, please, while you're talking to them. And if you can't muster that, sometimes the best way to deal with discomfort is just to say, "You guys are making me uncomfortable." I suppose you can also threaten to spray them with a hose.

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Archive Help!: Howdy Glam Producer (oh yeah, and Carolyn, too)

I can't seem to find the 2003 archives for July through December... the regular TMAI page begins at January 2004, but the old archive page ends at June 2003. Did I miss a whole six months of no-Carolyn? Any tips on where to find the missing months? I'm OD'ing on these things...

Thanks a bunch,
Texas Fan

washingtonpost.com: They're all there. On Carolyn's main archive page, just click on "More Stories," then at the bottom of that page click on "Next," et voila. -- Glam Producer

Carolyn Hax: Because it's good to resolve this before I go, I'll look past the hurt that I'm not Glam.

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Anywhere: Just found out that friends are expecting a baby. I'm over the moon for them, but can't help feeling a bit bummed for me, not because I want my own kids, but because they were kind of the last of my friends I could still rely on to go out and fun with whenever, at the drop of a hat...does this make me a bad person?

Carolyn Hax: Nope. Not even remotely. If it helps, they're probably a little bummed for themselves that they're losing their drop-of-a-hatness. Obviously they want a baby more than they want that kind of freedom right now, but that doesn't mean they won't miss it, and won't miss running around freely with you. Tradeoffs are a bitch, for all involved.

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Re: Class Reunion: Why would you want to go to reunite with a bunch of ignorami like that? And spend big $$$ to do so? If they really did what you think they did, they're not going to get any lesson you might think you might impart by your presence, and why waste the time, money and energy on going to this one -- instead, if you're so inclined, plan your own, with the people you like, since you already have the mailing list. (Also: I helped plan my high school reunions, the two we've had so far, and I've never heard of anything like this. It's outrageous).

Carolyn Hax: That's why I wonder if it's true. I'd hate to advise someone to blow off a reunion just on the -assumption- that the organizers were deliberately exclusive. I don't know that there's any way to confirm either way, but it's worth a try before deciding.

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Re: Hints & the Clueless Male: Actually, I think you did her a dis-service in telling her not to pursue it.

The fact is that many males (myself included) are totally clueless regarding "signals" that women think are crystal clear.

He wasn't sure where they stood. He didn't want to be a boar, but is still interested. Or he isn't. Only one way to find out.

(Quick example -- once we started dating, one long-term girl friend told me she initially thought I wasn't interested because she had "practically thrown herself at me." I thought she was just being polite. Hah.)

Carolyn Hax: Thanks. One more on this:

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Re: Las Vegas: I'm not a guy, but I vote with you on that one -- I think you called it exactly right. All those gestures, without any follow-through, or even asking for her number, are the signs of a guy who might want to preserve his options, sure, but who isn't really interested. And there might not be any concrete "harm" from calling him, but, having made some of those calls under similar circumstances and under similar urgings from friends, well, now I just wouldn't bother. Cut your losses and move on.

Carolyn Hax: Thanks guys.

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Virginia: Carolyn, I am a friendly, attractive woman who gets hit on a lot, set up a lot, and generally meet a lot of guys. But when I look back, all I see are mostly short-lived relationships with guys who weren't ready to commit or too insecure or just had some deal-breaking flaw like alcoholism. I really don't enjoy having back to back short-term relationships but that seems to be the only sorts of guys I meet. I meet diverse people in diverse ways so it's not for lack of trying. If it's something I am doing wrong then I don't know what, but otherwise it's really got me thinking that most guys out there just don't want a commitment. I am not asking for marriage or anything, just someone who is open to a real and meaningful relationship. Where do I go from here?

Carolyn Hax: Try going to friendships. I actually believe everyone, without exception, is open to "a real and meaningful relationship." I mean, what better does life have to offer? But starting every relationship off on a romantic or potentially romantic footing automatically subjects each one to a bunch of superficial standards that can actively prevent something meaningful from happening. For example, the guy at the beginning of the chat who ruled out most women as too homely. How many great, perception-changing conversations didn't happen because of that?

Slow down, get to know, see where it goes.

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Reunions: It's true!; I've never ever been invited to a reunion. The "clicky" people all get invited. It's like their own little reunion of popular people (whom i hope are all fat now with really bratty kids). I've written to the committee to no avail.

Carolyn Hax: I hope this at least stops by the 20th. Either way, though, my pity is reserved for the organizers, whose adolescence is apparently preserved in amber. Thanks.

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Curious: Devoted fan here. Wonder what you think about girl (late 20s) dating her stepbrother's wife's brother (also late 20s). So, relatives of a sort, but not blood. The families involved are not close emotionally or geographically. Is girl sick to consider this? It hasn't happened yet, but the potential is there.

Thank yew!

Carolyn Hax: Can't see why it's even an issue, much less a sign of possible sickness.

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About the Dumper...: How can you so quickly conclude that it's "not his fault"? What if he wasted six precious years of her life (she's obviously not young if her son's leaving for college) leading her on and causing her to miss other opporunities only to drop the bomb when his kids leave home and he's free to play the field (also a vulnerable time for her, if her child is leaving the nest; they probably have different attitudes toward this event). I don't believe you can call it "manipulation" without concluding that her distress isn't genuine, which I'm sure it is; I've seen this opportunistic using (as long as it's convenient) and dumping (when it's no longer) of older women before. Why was he with her for six years if his "affectionate" feelings were so fragile? I think you were unfair to her.

Carolyn Hax: Sorry, disagree strenuously. I don't doubt her distress is genuine, but that doesn't mean she has any right to berate him for ruining her life. I mean really. Even if his behavior wasn't model by anyone's definition, it's still her life, her set of choices, her responsibility. If he treated her poorly, then she should say, "You treated me poorly," and then point his horse toward the sunset and whack it in the butt. And then get on with her life, whcih should include a period of introspection to help her see where things went awry.

If in fact things went awry. There's also a good chance he didn't mistreat her at all, and his feelings just died, like feelings sometimes do, and so, oh well. People (men and women, young and old) get used and dumped all the time. They also get loved genuinely and outgrown and dumped. Same answer: Oh well, get on with life. Blame is an ugly, corrosive thing.

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Plastic Surgery: Have you noticed how there is a certified litany of reality TV shows focused on plastic surgery these days? From most "Extreme Makeover" to "The Swan" and "I Want a famous Face," etc., every channel is bespeckled by plastic surgeons, boob jobs and jaw implants. And the worst part is, I am mezmorized. Disgusted and yet I must watch...

Do you think this is a passing trend or something we can expect to see on TV for years to come? Is plastic surgery becoming the new Atkins?

I know this is a little off subject for the chat, but I would love to hear your opinion.

Carolyn Hax: Hold on, getting my megaphone ... THERE ARE PEOPLE OUT HERE WHO LOVE YOU. NOW PUT THE CLICKER DOWN.

My opinion is, there is no such thing as a plastic-surgery reality show because I've never actually seen one. Also works for pro wrestling, NASCAR, thinly veiled prostitution in the form of mating reality shows, and anything with Jessica Simpson.

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Born again: Haven't had sex in over a year. Going away tonight with current boyfriend...Nervous I'm going to be a total spaz. Is is possible to "forget" how to do it?

Carolyn Hax: No, but it is possible to forget that being a spaz can be endearing, if it's just you being you. Have fun.

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Reunion: I wasn't invited to my 5th or 10th reunion for the same reason (there was no question about the 10th being intentional, trust me). I think there are lots of reunions where the entire class isn't invited, especially if the people running haven't grown up.

Consider yourself lucky, call the people you want to see, get together on your own terms.

Voila!;

Carolyn Hax: I'm curious. Is there anyone out there who has organized a not-fully-inclusive reunion who will actually cop to it?

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New York, N.Y.: Damn you Hax, I am now going to be stuck humming "The Inquisition" to myself for the rest of the day...

Carolyn Hax: Come on. Tell me your Friday didn't need a shot of Mel Brooks.

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Kidd, IE: Seems like everyone is having kids. Two women at work, relatives, random people on the street, etc. I'm happy for the people that I interact with on a daily basis because they're happy and excited.

However, I seem to be one of the few women on the planet who just don't dig kids (and that's putting it nicely). Much like it seems to be assumed that I'll know how to make coffee or order food just because I'm a woman, it seems to be expected that I will go ga-ga over kids. Getting a bit uncomfortable with ALL conversation centering around pregnancy, children, etc.

What to do for the rare woman who doesn't have a maternal bone anywhere near her body? I understand this is a HUGE thing in a person's life, but I'm running out of energy for pretending that it's even a remote consideration in my own.

Carolyn Hax: Stop pretending! Even some solidly maternal women find other people's children less than ga-ga-inducing. Just be yourself as civilly as possible and look around, see who else is milling around on the fringes looking bored. Your kindred spirits are there, they're just like you--trying to blend in and not get busted for rolling their eyes.

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Re: reunions: See, not to be mean cause I'm probably right in there, but I would invite the non-popular ones out of curiosity. Like the girl a couple years older who married our music teacher. (And that was after him cheating on his wife to date her... believe me it actually gets worse!)

washingtonpost.com: How big of you.

Carolyn Hax: Now I know why I get invited to things--cheaper than hiring a clown to make balloon animals.

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Moebius Column?: What is this?

Carolyn Hax: Contains an argument that is self-perpetuating--ie, to answer the question, you follow a logic train that leads you right back to the question.

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Non-Maternal Woman: Go ahead, roll your eyes, say that you are not interested. I am a mother, and I am fully aware that my kids, while hugely important to me, are not necessarily a fabulous topic of conversation. (Nor is talking about the bodily fluid stains on my clothing, my maternal lack of sleep, etc.) It's just that sometimes I forget. So tell me. Before I was a mom, I was totally non-kid oriented, I remember that (sometimes, I envy that me). I'm also not alone. Mothers are not monsters, and not even one trick ponies. We might actually crave an adult conversation, just have forgotten how to go about having one.

Carolyn Hax: [applause]

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Carolyn Hax: Okay, it's speak-now-or-for-a-few-weeks-hold-your-peace time. Unless I go past my due date (sob), this is it for a while. Anyone, anything?

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Alexandria, Va.: Before my husband and I got married six months ago, we agreed that we would share the task of writing thank-you notes. I have completed all of the notes to my family and friends, while my husband hasn't done any. He keeps saying that he'll get to it, and I believe him, although I do feel badly for the nice people who have yet to be thanked for their gifts. My mom is mortified, and thinks that I should write the rest of the thank-you notes immediately. She feels that it reflects on my poor manners, and no one would think that my husband is responsible for those notes. While it's none of her beeswax, especially since it's not her friends or family who haven't been properly thanked, she's got me wondering if I should just write them. My mom said that my refusal to do this for my husband doesn't bode well for the "team spirit" of our marriage. But my husband has never asked me to write the notes, and yes, part of me is stubborn and thinks that a 33-year-old man is capable of completing this task without my help. My mother-in-law also asks repeatedly about when I plan to write the thank-you notes, even though I've politely told her that she should ask her son, as he is responsible for those. My mom respects your advice so I hope you can point us in the right direction.

Carolyn Hax: No, do NOT write the notes yourself. Terrible TERRIBLE precedent.

So is letting him not write the notes. I know, I hate using the word "let" there myself. But consider: Take away that this is about thank-you notes, and what you have left is his showing disrespect for the gift-givers, showing disrespect for you, showing that his word is a hollow thing.

So please tell him this. Tell him that it is extremely important to you that his promises mean something, and until he sits down and follows through on his promise to write thank-you notes--right now, no excuses, even pick a time when you KNOW he's free--you will be forced to doubt his word. Do it, do it, do it, or you will seethe.

As for your mothers, it's none of their beeswax. And the "team spirit" BS goes both ways; in fact, it's a greater blow to team spirit if you cave and compensate for his failure to share the burden than it would be for you to insist on his sharing it.

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Leave time: So, what's the plan while out on leave this time? Or in other words, estimated time of return to chats?

Carolyn Hax: I'll be back online as soon as I feel up to it, so it'll depend on how long it takes for the complete chaos and sleeplessness to settle into orderly chaos and partial sleeplessness.

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Baby Update: Without prying into your private life, is there a way we can find out when you deliver?

Here is wishing you an easy delivery and a fast recovery (and a baby who likes to sleep at least 3 hours at a stretch)!;

Carolyn Hax: Thanks! I'll take 5 hours, if it's okay with you.

And if it's okay with Liz, I'll post the nooz where next week's chat would be. Again, that's assuming I'm not chatting where next week's chat would be. If I go past my due date, it's not like I'll have a million better things to do than come online. As it is now, my activity choices are: chair, couch, brief chore or errand followed by chair or couch.

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Reunions: Who are these people that actually think being a member of the "in crowd" has any significance the day after you walk out of that institution? I'm just curious, have they lived any kind of life at all?

Carolyn Hax: Actually, it has no significance while you're still in the institution. Which is what they've apparently all failed to see.

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D.C.: Good luck!; And enjoy it!;

Carolyn Hax: Thanks everybody. Enjoy the spring and type to you soon.

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