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Carolyn Hax
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 19, 2005; 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.

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Carolyn Hax: Hi. Some items of business before we start:

1. I've finally remembered to get the title of that anthology, the one with the essays (including mine) that discuss working vs. stay-at-home motherhood. It's called "Mommy Wars," edited by Leslie Morgan Steiner, and it's out next spring. Don't worry, I'll remind you again then, I promise.

2. If anyone has a favorite column, maybe clipped out or oft forwarded, and is willing to email me the pub date and/or topic, I'd be really grateful. (tellme@washpost.com) I'm considering putting together a collection, and while I know which ones I like, that's nowhere near as useful as knowing what you guys liked. You've already told me which ones you hated, set on fire, backed over with your cars, so no need to do so again, thanks.

3, but not least. The ALS Association is holding another event to raise money for patient care and research, and this time you can help just by having dinner. For the Feast to Defeat ALS on Sept. 12, several D.C. and Baltimore-area restaurants will donate 10 percent of that day's proceeds to the cause. Please go to www.alsinfo.org to see if a restaurant near you is participating. THANK YOU.

Okay that's all the business.

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Potomac, Md.: I have a problem with a friend of mine. She's really interested in dating around and possibly marriage, but she can never seem to find a boyfriend. After a couple conversations, guys tend to dump her. I think I know what the problem is. She plays "dumb." She's really intelligent, but when she's talking to guys, she says such "airheaded" things... that I think it turns them off. It may be nervousness. Should I mention this to her, or is it something so insensitive, that I should keep it under wraps? Thanks!

Carolyn Hax: If it's nerves, telling her will make her more nervous, and if it's an act, she needs to do more than stop acting--she needs to grow up, a lot. So, I vote for not telling. (Another factor in my vote, you could be wrong about what she's doing wrong.)

The best thing you can do for her dating prospects is help her feel comfortable with herself, and the best thing you can do to help her be comfortable with herself is like her the way she is.

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Rockville, Md.: Hi Carolyn,

I am 32, single. Most of my girlfriends are either married or attached. I love them very much but it bothers me a great deal when they keep telling me to "meet more people" to increase the chance of meeting the ONE.

I get irritated because I DO meet people and it's not like I don't date. But I don't need MORE people, I just need ONE that's right. Am I asking too much, or being too naive? I am sick of having to explain to people why I am still single, and that I believe when it's meant to be, it will happen.

Carolyn Hax: Why are you having to explain so often why you're single? Are people throwing unsolicited dating advice at you, or are you complaining just as often that you're sick of being single/meeting jerks/finding out all the "good ones" are engaged, married or gay (or all three)?

If it's the first, you need to make it clear your marital status isn't everyone's problem, because it's NOT A PROBLEM. If it's the second, please find another topic of conversation if you don't like what people say back.

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Richmond, Va.: I have been in a relationship for a little over three years. Our relationship has a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde complex. When things are on, they are fantastic, but there are issues when she drinks to excess. She becomes a totally different person: angry, belligerent, and violent. Afterwards she is mortified by her behavior and could not be sweeter. I am torn because I love the kind side of her, but the latest (about a month ago) of these horrible outbreaks happened with my family. I want to be able to forgive her, but there is a part of me that won't let that happen. Is this scar going to heal?

Carolyn Hax: Not if you keep treating ONE person as if she's two people, and not if you keep expecting Ms. Hyde to go away on her own. Your girlfriend IS Ms. Hyde. Ms Hyde IS your girlfriend.

For things to be otherwise, she needs to get into treatment for alcohol abuse, you need to get into counseling to help you understand why you're hanging on to a relationship with someone who's abusing you (1-800-799-SAFE is a good place to get names of people in your area, or a local Al-Anon chapter), and you both need to get out of the relationship. For your own safety and well-being if for no other reason, though there are other reasons.

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Washington, D.C.: I went to a small casual dinner party the other night given by one of my best friends. I hate cheese, all kinds, which she knows, yet she served caesar salad and lasagna. When I barely ate all night, she asked if I wasn't feeling well. What gives! She definitly knows I do not eat cheese, we've been friends for YEARS. Should I ask why she purposely did this? I felt very uncomfortable not eating at all in front of the other people I did not know. Hmph!

Carolyn Hax: Maybe she forgot. Hmph! You may know that she definitely knows, but you definitely don't know that she didn't forget. Instead of going at her with an angry, dukes-up accusation, just assume she forgot and drop it. And if it happens again, then you can mention it--in private. Say, that you're sorry you didn't eat the dinner she made, but that you don't eat cheese. No need to get a p'y about it.

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Chicago, Ill.: I'm a mid-40s never married male. Recently, a date asked me while I was was driving if I ever took up living with a woman. When I answered no, she couldn't believe it and demanded to know why. My answer was that vitually all my happily married siblings and friends did not cohabitate before marriage. I'm not comfortable with it, and neither were the women I was in an exclusive relationship with.

Of course, she has cohabitated outside of marriage and thinks I'm a freak. I don't believe I have to be apologetic about my choices, especially when the other person concurred.

Is my belief that rare??

Carolyn Hax: No, I don't think so. More important though than a specific belief on this is a willingness to refrain from judging people just because they believe otherwise. She blew that one, it seems.

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Washington, D.C.: So this Sunday is my birthday. Boyfriend most likely has forgotten, judging from the plans he's made. Do I clue him in?

Carolyn Hax: Definitely, if you're going to be upset when he doesn't acknowledge it.

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Forgotten Food Phobias: I recently made dinner for a friend who doesn't like green peppers. We've also been friends for years and I knew about this, but made stuffed peppers without thinking about it. I didn't notice that she only ate the filling out of it, but she emailed me later to remind me and apologize for not eating it all. It just slipped my mind and I wasn't trying to starve her. Don't assume she's out to get you. People forget.

Carolyn Hax: Nicely put, thanks. I would have gone with the snarkier, "Don't assume it's all about you."

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Massachussetts: Dear Carolyn, I suffered a miscarriage in May this year and it took me about two months to recover from everything -- the surgery and the painful emotions. My problem is that people who know or come to know about the miscarriage, inevitably say that I'm coping very well and had it been them, they would not have recovered so fast or taken it so well. I know the underlying compliment is that I'm tough and resilient but I feel at the same time that they are implying that somehow I did not grieve or feel enough. I can't and don't want to tell them that I still have flashes of intense pain (which for me is a private issue) and even if I did not, it should be OK to want to move on from a very traumatic experience without feelings of guilt. I find myself stuttering and trying to explain in answer. Do you have any ideas on what I can politely and firmly say when I get these remarks?

Carolyn Hax: "Thank you." The underlying compliment is that you are tough and resilient, and the underlying truths are that people are acknowledging what a difficult thing you've been through; that it's hard to know what to say to someone in this situation so even people who upset you even more are likely just trying to be kind; and that the guilt stems from your interpretation of their words and not their words themselves. So, give everyone a break, yourself most of all.

Or, if you'd prefer, you just come out and say, "Thanks, but appearances can be deceiving." You don't need to elaborate if you don't want to.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi, I posted last week about my girlfriend meeing with an ex who has crossed propriety lines in the past. When I asked my girlfriend why she was initiating interest in the ex, her response was that things were going so well for us, she was getting nervous. She says she has a history of sabotaging things in her life that are going well because she is afraid of success. I have no idea to respond to this. I am sufficiently convinced that the little flirtation stuff with the ex is over, but what can I/we do to keep this from happening again?

Carolyn Hax: What she can do is address her problem for her own health and happiness, by getting some counseling or doing something equally decisive and tangible to confront her own behavior.

What you can do is look for signs that she wants to address her problem. If she just says, "My bad!"--and only because she was busted--then don't expect the future to bring anything different.

You can't make her deal with it, in case that crossed your mind. You can suggest she talk to a therapist but that's abotu it. The rest is waiting to see what she does and responding as you see fit.

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Carolyn Hax: I'll be back in 5. Sorry.

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Carolyn Hax: Back now, thanks. Somebody's tantrum got bigger than a babysitter should have to manage.

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Cheese, please: There's also a difference between being lactose-intolerant and merely hating chese. If it's an allergy, best to call ahead and inquire about the supper (not PC but useful for the hostess). If it's not an allergy, suck it up and make an effort. Caeser salad and lasagna is a great meal for a hostess because most people like it and you can make it early and spend more time with guests. But in the craziness of getting ready for dinner, it's pretty easy to forget who chooses not to eat something.

Carolyn Hax: A whole lot of postings like these, thanks, and this was one of the calmest. The consensus (and etiquette) being that if you merely don't like the food you're served, or even hate it, you make an effort. Hate it to the point of shuddering, you still do your best. (My mommy taught me this, too, I just blanked I guess.)

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Forgotten Foods, Continued...: I once had a dinner party where I served chicken skewers to a guest that was vegetarian, and an alcohol-soaked tiramisu to a recovering alcoholic. Same party.

I've since learned to try to be more conscientious, but I also try to remind myself to ask.

People forget.

Carolyn Hax: And in the end, the worse it is the better the story.

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Maryland: A close family member is having a baby shower. My wife and I are having trouble getting pregnant. My wife doesn't want to go to the shower for obvious reasons. If she doesn't, my family will never forgiver her or me. What to do?

Carolyn Hax: Fill in a few blanks? One, does your family know of your struggles? Two, is your trouble of the we-need-to-make-an- appointment-with-a-doctor variety, or of the she's-had-three- miscarriages-the-most-recent-of-which- was-last-week variety?

The distinction (pause to tighten the chin strap on my helmet) matters quite a bit.

If it's the latter, people either will understand her absence or they need to be slapped.

If it's the former, she should consider that it's okay for other people to be happy, and that life doesn't get postponed just because she isn't in the mood for it, and that putting on a nice dress and a smile even when you're in pain is the kind of thing that close families are all about (and it's also, in the long run, what wins you loyal and devoted friends).

If it's in between, it's a judgment call.

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Annapolis, Md,: What is a good way to overcome self-doubt? My fiance admitted to me that he's having a hard time moving in with me (two hours away from where he is now) because he is scared that he will be turned down for a job. All the other jobs he's had (including his current) he got by basically showing up; they needed a warm body. The wedding is in a month and if we plan to live together afterwards I feel as though he should get started, which he hasn't. I want to help him but I don't know how to even start. Do you think this is covering up something else (possibly not wanting to go through with this)?

Carolyn Hax: Sounds that way to me. I think if you approach him, without any any any trace of a chip on your shoulder, with the fact that you don't want to be in the position of having to pressure your own husband to live with you, and that you'd rather postpone the wedding than continue to live in two places after you're married, the conditions might be forgiving enough for him to say what he's not saying. Please let me know how it goes.

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YIPPEE: I just won $1,000 on a scratch-off lottery ticket!; What should I do with it!;?

Carolyn Hax: Tell Me About It

The Washington Post

1150 15th Street NW

Washington, DC 20071

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Washington, D.C.: Submitting early because of vacation...

I am wondering what you think about the act of demanding an apology. I am asking because recently me and some friends have been on the receiving end, each time for something we really don't think we did wrong but were asked to apologize for. Our apologies were sincere but in word only because in our hearts we don't feel we did any harm. It seems like it would make more sense if the apology came naturally. Or at the most, the offended person could have told me they were hurt and I would have probably apologized but when they tacked on the line about demanding an apology, I thought it was useless. What are your thoughts?

Carolyn Hax: So you get to go away while we toil away over your question? I demand an apology.

1. Sincere "in word only," not in your hearts? Grab the nearest beach dictionary, please. Your apologies were thoroughly insincere.

2. If you were told of the harm you did and you agreed that you did something hurtful, but your apologies were grudging only because you resented being asked to apologize, then that sounds an awful lot like you're finding ways to blame the victim as a way of ducking responsibility for your hurtful behavior.

3. If you're being asked to apologize and you don't think you did anything wrong, you say something along the lines of, "I want to make things right, but I don't understand what I did wrong--please tell me what's bothering you." Or, if you do know what the complaint is but you still don't agree you did anything wrong, you say that--along with an explanation, like, "I meant no harm," or, "It's possible you didn't hear me correctly," or whatever else -honestly- applies.

Short version, you don't just apologize to shut someone up, and there's nothing wrong with asking for apologies.

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Carolyn Hax: I swear, it's the questions I think are going to be quick that take me the longest to answer.

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Arlington, Va.: Hey Carloyn, my boyfriend recently told me that he wants to take six months to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. It's been his dream for a long time to do this, but I can't help but take it as a personal rejection to some extent. There's part of me that says, "this isn't about you!" but another part that wonders if it's OK to be freaking out about his choosing to be apart for such a long time. He does say that he wants to get married and buy a house together, but he wants to hike the A-T first so he won't regret it for the rest of his life. I'd love to find a way to be supportive of his dream, but find myself upset about it instead. Any advice?

Carolyn Hax: Support his dream. Goes well with the shut-up-and-eat-the-cheese theme we have going.

Not that I want to encourage you to make this about you, but there is a compliment to you in all this: If he's serious about you, and he's serious about his dream of doing this hike, then he's going to have to get the hike out of the way ASAP so he can get on with his life with you.

Another reason to celebrate. When he dreams of something for a long time, he finds a way to do it. Yay him, for one, but yay you too. If he comes back to you after his hike, this trait of his will serve you well maybe 100 times longer than the six months you're apart. And if the hike is enough to undo your relationship, then you know what I'm going to say.

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Bethesda, Md.: Just made a major gaffe with a friend. He lives in CA, we went to high school together. I got married two months ago, he flew in for just the day and got me a nice gift. A month later, I got an invitation to his mother's (local) surprise birthday party. I put it aside, intending to RSVP.

I forgot. I just remembered the party was this past weekend. I feel very guilty. What do I do?

Carolyn Hax: Send a gift and a happy belated b-day card to the mom, and a separate I-am-a-jerk card to your friend. What can you do.

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Re: Lottery scratch-off ticket: 1. Set aside about a third for your favorite Uncle, Uncle Sam in DC.

2. Put 1/3 in savings.

3. Use 1/3 for fun stuff. Some suggestions:

a. Buy a gift certificate for $50 from an arts-and-crafts supply store and send it anonymously to the principal of the elementary school you went to, "to be used for a fun project". Or...

b. Donate $50 to a fund that provides low-cost spaying or neutering to pets. Or...

c. Call a convalescent home and find out if there's a resident who never gets gifts in the mail and rarely has visits, and send that person flowers or something nice. Or...

d. Call up your local child protective services agency and find out if you can give a gift of some sort to a child who is in care of CPS and could use something. Or...

e. Use your imagination to figure out something small and inexpensive that you could do that would brighten someone's day, and perform your own "random act of kindness."

Then spend the rest on something nice for yourself!;

Carolyn Hax: These are such great ideas. Wow.

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Nick Too, NS: Usually, when Nick goes out of his way to highlight features of folks, it's people he (you both?) knows... This time, I could SWEAR that it's Martin Scorcese as the customer and Mark Twain as the bartender... Am I right?

Carolyn Hax: No, but Nick's friend and father are going to enjoy hearing they resemble Martin Scorsese and Mark Twain.

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Tampa, Fla.: I'm really concerned about my boyfriend and his gorgeous new neighbor. The neighbor has been shamelessly flirting, and I confronted her last week. She didn't deny it, in fact she said, "He'll be mine, it's a matter of time." I then told my boyfriend, and he said, "What's your problem? Why did you go mouthing off to her?" He then said "how would I date her, she works Saturday nights as a shot girl in Ybor City?" Can you believe it? How do I get my boyfriend to understand that this woman is trespassing on my turf, and that she is disrespecting me?

Carolyn Hax: Um. How do I get you to understand your boyfriend is responsible for his own behavior? Tell the neighbor he's all hers, because they deserve each other.

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New York, N.Y.: Love your column.

I know two girls. Chemistry and attraction with both. But TONS of Chemistry with one and TONS of attraction with the other. Whats more important in the long run?

Carolyn Hax: Thanks.

Since I use chemistry and attraction interchangeably, um, go with the one you feel you can talk to and laugh with forever, about anything.

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re: lottery ticket: Carolyn, you are showing a lot of restraint not suggesting that some of the winnings go to the ALS charity!;

Carolyn Hax: I know. I thought about it, believe me, but decided it's not all about me. (Though if people felt moved to adopt that as their random act of kindness, I will send beams of warm and happy thoughts in their general direction(s).)

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Iowa: How do you go about finding a marriage counselor? I don't know anyone who has gone to one (that talks about it, anyway).

Thanks.

Carolyn Hax: It's like finding anything--sometimes you have to follow a trail of clues. You can ask friends, if you're not worried how it'll appear. It could be they have good ideas/leads and simply aren't offering them up unsolicited while they're milling around the crab dip. If you don't want to talk about it with friends, you start by asking people whose profession gives them access to this kind of info and whose discretion is professionally mandated--your regular doctor, a clergy person come to mind. If that's a dead-end, call one of the professional associations that governs marriage counselors (www.aamft.org, www.apa.org to name two). Or, if you know counselors in a different field, ask them if they have people to whom they commonly send their patients for marriage counseling.

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Re: chemistry and attraction: Aren't they the same? Anyway, I'd like to know if people can actually "grow" to love someone even if there is no chemistry or strong attraction at first?

Carolyn Hax: If you mean physical, then, yes, that can come later as you become attracted to the everything-other-than-physical person. (It can also still not happen, oh well.) I'm not sure though that any love or attraction or whatever is going to grow with someone whose company you fundamentally don't enjoy.

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Just because I love to understand the logistics....: When you do these chats you are at home? (the babysitter/meltdown comment). I thought you were at The Washington Post. But someone is AT the Post monitoring? I need a visual!

Love these chats, btw. I never miss them!

Carolyn Hax: Thanks!

With rare exceptions, I chat from home. There's a producer at washingtonpost.com sending me questions. Vive l'Internet ...

At the expense of the visual, I'm afraid. It was more fun back in '98 when I went to post.com offices to do these and we'd be shouting to each other over our monitors.

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Re: Iowa: If your medical health insurance company covers mental health benefits, then they can be another source of information on marriage counselors. Many provide lists of approved providers, and their areas of speciality.

Once you find a counselor, you will want to ask the provider over the phone if they cover the services you need before making an appointment.

Carolyn Hax: Good stuff, thanks.

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Thanks for the ALS info: Thanks for the ALS fundraiser info!; A former colleague of mine was diagnosed this past year, has deteriorated rapidly and is in a bad place. I'm sending the link to my current colleagues with the hope that we'll (as an office) be participating to support our friend

Carolyn Hax: I hope so, and thank -you.- And I'm sorry about your colleague.

I'm also going to try to do more myself--specifically, to get down to DC to do the Walk to D'Feet ALS, Sunday Oct. 23. If I can swing the logistics, I'm going to ask the peanutty among you to join my team. Early nag warning.

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Married, Ohio: Re: The boyfriend poaching neighbor.

Take my wife's advice -- tell her to go for it. If she suceeds, the boyfriend is a louse, if she fails he's a keeper.

I think you can work out what happened in our case...

Carolyn Hax: No, please explain it to me.

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Hiking the trail: Why does he think he'll never do it, if he doesn't hike it before getting married? Plenty of married people do this together, or do it with a spouse's support -- and pursue various other dreams after marriage, too. I'd hate to think I couldn't do something like that now that I'm married.

Carolyn Hax: I got the impression it was the tied-down aspect of marriage--mortgage, eventual kids--and not the ball-and-chain aspect. But that could just have been my own bias. Thanks for weighing in.

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Trailing Thoughts: Hi Carolyn,

Does Hiker want to be away from girlfriend for the six months? He's going to have to make food and supply stops occasionally and have towns to rest in. Maybe she can meet him someplace at month three? If he doesn't want to include her in any part of it, then dream chasing won't be a great trait later.

Carolyn Hax: Right-oh, thanks.

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Cambridge, Mass.: Hey Carolyn,

Just wondering if you had an opinion about the new "real women" Dove ads (besides the fact that just having people talk about them means it's good PR).

Carolyn Hax: I have an opinion on everything. But you knew that. I think they're great. I admire the models. I applaud the company (even while recognizing the cold calculations that surely are behind the campaign). I'm also discouraged that I put 5-10 lbs back on this winter after losing all my baby weight, even though I know intellectually that I'm just fine and have nothing to be discouraged about. So, I guess it's

Attention-getting, 1; Actual change, 0.

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Arlington, Va.: It's me, girlfriend of the A-T hiker. We've already discussed how we'd stay connected while he's away, a combination of me meeting him on the trail (and doing some hiking/camping together) and him coming home for a few weekends in between. While this sounds feasible, we live together now and I know it'd be a huge adjustment to go from seeing each other every day to once every few weeks. That's part of my problem, I think.

Carolyn Hax: You will live. Remember, people get hit by buses, etc. Use these six months as a timely reminder that there's no such thing as a life without the occasional huge adjustment, and that the more flexible you are when one happens, the happier you'll be.

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Ithaca, N.Y.: Re: boyfriend who wants to hike AT: in case she hasn't heard, most people who started hiking AT give up in less than a week. So she might see him a lot sooner than six months. Let the guy go and have his fun!

Carolyn Hax: And when he comes home early, don't laugh at him right away. Wait till he's ready to laugh at himself (or thereabouts).

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Washington, D.C.: Do you think more men cheat than not?

Carolyn Hax: I believe more people don't cheat than do.

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Carolyn Hax: Apologies again, I got into one of those "quick" questions and fell down a rabbit hole. Still working on it ...

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Washington, D.C.: I feel that one of my closest friends is being self destructive. She is frequently sexually active with a host of partners and has used serious drugs on several occasions. Much of this stems from what I see as low self-respect and desire to suppress her true feelings. A while back, as her close friend, I would try to tell her I disapproved and thought she was being destructive, but it drove us apart. She would also defend her actions by saying that I was a prude and that among most of her friends she wasn't being that crazy. I ended up agreeing to just listen to her and not pass judgment when she tells me crazy stories about her exploits. That's left me feeling like a sell out: I feel like by just listening I'm being complicit. To make matters worse, everything I hear makes me respect her, her decision-making, and her values less and less. I love our friendship but hate her dismissiveness and constant need for the party scene. How can I navigate the role as friend when it's clear my vocal concerned objections irritate her? How do I know when its time to cut bait? And how do I broach the subject if I get there?

Carolyn Hax: Why does she have to tell you about her exploits? I know the answer, we all do, even she does, but doesn't want to admit it.

People who are self-destructive seek out others like them for permission, in a way, to be bad, so their bad behavior can feel normal. The fact that she's stayed friends with you is something, maybe enough to keep your friendship going, if that's what you want. (If you don't want, you have to cut bait.)

I don't think it's right that you have to sit there and hear these stories, though. You can and should tell her that you changed your mind, you can't be her accomplice, and therefore won't just remain silent. In return you can promise to object without preaching--or instead you can ask if she's willing to make your friendship about your friendship and not about her latest-exploit stories.

Friendships have survived differences like this, which is why her being able to remain friends with you sans tales (or not) will tell you if this is merely a difference of opinion between you or a real downward spiral for her--taking the bait-cutting out of your hands.

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Carolyn Hax: Kay. I'm going. Thanks for your patience, thanks for coming, have a great weekend and type to you next week.

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baby shower man: Yes, the family knows. Its not a miscaraige situation. But it hurts my wife to the core of her being. To make matters worse, she doesn't particularly like my family. I feel that she needs to go if for no other reason than to prevent years of future animosity. My family would not agree with her not going. I can't make her go. If she doesn't go, what should we tell my family so feelings won't be hurt too bad?

Carolyn Hax: She should go -because- she doesn't like your family. They know it, and will see through her no-show as the slap in the face it is. Really. As long as you choose to keep your relationship with your family, she, as the person who chose to marry you, needs to suck it up sometimes--for your sake, obviously, but also for hers, to keep an already unpleasant relationship from becoming hell with canapes.

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Heidelberg, Germany: RE: the infertile baby-shower invitee. I am that woman. I am infertile (no miscarriages, thank God, but 4 long years of various treatments and no conception). I have found a middle ground for such events. Maybe I choose not to go to the shower (no sense in me hanging around the doorway, bawling or looking googly-eyed holding back tears -- makes everyone feel bad or at least awkward). But instead I do all I can to help plan the shower, send along some flowers, a home-made cake, and a loving note explaining how I wish I could be there. The thing is, I really DO wish I could be there and I really DO wish I could be happy watching someone else prepare for their bundle of joy, but I don't feel I have it in me. So I do what I can, share the love and good feelings I do have (in my own way, in my own time). Maybe that's a possibility for the folks in this case?

Carolyn Hax: An excellent alternative, thank you.

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