Tell Me About It

Carolyn Hax
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 11, 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.

Other mail can be directed to Carolyn at .


Checkmeouttoo, USA: Regarding "boys will be boys" in Wednesday's post, last I checked, women stare at the opposite sex, too. Men are just less discreet. But, I will speculate that men are less secure when their mates' eyes wander.

Carolyn Hax: Actually, we're perfectly misaligned in our sex generalizations. I know women do look, but I think they don't look as much. Just not AS visual (note, I said AS visual, not that women aren't visual) in their sexuality as men are. And, I've never once gotten a complaint from a man who was jealous because his GF/wife/whatever was checking out other men. Obviously it can be an issue, especially with jealous, controlling and/or abusive men (who are usually some combination of all three), but more often than not this is something I see freaking women out disproportionately.


Anywhere, USA: Carolyn--You are great. But in my mind you're

wrong about your answer to the wandering eye

whiplash person. OF COURSE your date (of

WHATEVER gender) should NOT be giving the glad

eye to whomever he or she views. Maybe you're

right and the writer is oversensitive--but I think

you missed giving good advice. Because couldn't

she have been writing in about dating guys who

are players and can't even stop when she's

around?? Or are so uninterested in her they are

shopping for others while on a date with her?

I am SO tired of the "men are beasts" argument.

No, a lot of guys I know WON'T always look AND

MOST guys I know WOULDN'T embarass their

date...telling her to "laugh it off" is bad for her,

whether it's her paranoia or her choices in dating

and yes, IMHO, the standard of keeping your

attention on your own date for a few hours is the

minimum--higher than you are saying for any

daters. If this is just a misunderstanding on my

part of your opinion I apologize and ask for

clarification. You are great. Thanks.

Carolyn Hax: You don't need to say I'm great to disagree with me. It's okay, I swear.

And you do disagree with me on some things, but some I just think you interpreted differently. Had the writer been talking about a current BF, and only current BF, I would have been all over how disrespectful he was being. But "nearly every" guy? That's -her- issue, not the guys'. Either she's choosing the same leering, room-scanning doink every time, or she's way too sensitive. All the other stuff in her letter said "way too sensitive" to me--though even if I guessed wrong and she has a sweet tooth for rude men, she still needs to take responsibility for that, not point at all these guys and complain that they're rude.

I thought I was pretty clear on the fact that staring/leering were not acceptable. I just found it dubious that Every Single Guy was staring/leering.

So, on the theory that these are guys being within the range of normal for guys, which means anything from an occasional, discreet glance to the you're-so-busted double take, I stick by my advice to go at it with a sense of humor.


Tis the season...: for poo!

When is the reindeer poop chat?

Carolyn Hax: This isn't a department store! We don't hang our reindeer-poop plaque until after Thanksgiving.


Washington, DC: Regarding the first letter in today's column, how about advising the writer not to put too much stock in the verbal spillovers of someone too drunk to remember what he or she is saying?

They could be drawing a grossly overbroad conclusion ("never liked you") from anoverheard passing comment or inference.

I have a lot of booze in the sap of my family tree. I've learned this lesson early, and it was a painful one to teach my beloved.

Carolyn Hax: Thought of saying that maybe the drunk person was wrong, but ultimately decided to trust the writer 1. to consider that possibility herself, and 2. to judge that its making sense in hindsight meant it was probably true.


Oakland, Calif.: What's the best way to deal with a friend who is dangerously in debt and relays her worries and complaints to me about this fact constantly, yet who continues to live way beyond her means? I'm so sick of hearing her worry how she will pay her mortgage only to be told the next day that she made yet another major purchase she can't afford.

Carolyn Hax: Tell her you're not the person to be talking to about this, and give her the information for the local nonprofit credit counseling outfit, which you can obtain at

If the complaints continue and she doesn't seek help, you can say that you realize she probably just wants a sympathetic ear, but that it's hard for you to keep being that for her when she won't take steps to help herself.

Probably won't change anything, but being able to say what you've been thinking will help with your frustration.


Wandering Eye Whiplash: I loved your response in Wednesday's column because it was not what I expected. Follow-up question: is it disrespectful to flirt in front of your partner? I tell my BF I don't care if he flirts his brains out when I'm not around, but the few times he has done it in front of me I have felt disrespected. To me, it shows everyone in the room that he doesn't care what I think and is desperate for attention from another girl. Does your same advice apply? Maybe I'm too much of a stickler about my own behavior, and should start flirting up other men at parties...

Carolyn Hax: Thanks re Wednesday (and a promise that this chat won't be all about Wednesday).

If you BF is a flirt, and that's just his way, with -everybody-, then I don't think it's necessarily disrespectful. In fact, it would be a little ... clingy to insist that he change his personality under certain circumstances just so you don't feel humiliated or threatened.

In any other circumstances, though, I agree with you; it can make you really really feel like crap, watching sparks fly between your mate and another person. So a not-normally-flirtatious mate should have the decency not to flirt in your face. (I also agree that a little flirting not-in-face is not a bad thing, and can in fact be good. People should get to remind themselves every once in a while that they're sexual, as long as they then bring that energy home.)


the other season: What about vomitous chicken pitchers, then? I'm sure a lot of people are anticipating Thanksgiving get-togethers with family. I know that I am.

Carolyn Hax: Vomitous chicken pitchers are the little black dress of this chat, good for almost any occasion.


Oh s**t: You must get this question all the time...

What is the best way to handle having had drunken, ill-advised sex with a very close friend?

Carolyn Hax: 1. "Oops."

2. Air-clearing statement. Such as, "Is there any chance we can forget that just happened?"; or, "That wasn't what I wanted to happen, but I'm not sure I wish it didn't"; or, "Wow, I usually have enough sense to do that with strangers," or whatever else says what you feel you need to say.


Confused in Europe: I have a friend who has been married for three years and says that although she loves her husband, she misses the newness of falling in love with someone. She, in my eyes, is behaving in a way that makes it extremely difficult for her to remain faithful to her husband. One of many examples is that she has gotten in touch with an old flame. I have even witnessed her fondling with a colleague. I realize that her marriage is none of my business, but at the same time her behaviour really does bother me. Not because I think it is immoral, but because I think she is being unfair to her husband. In my opinion she should seriously consider ending the marriage: if she already feels bored after three years, how will she feel ten years from now? Do you think that I should tell her my opinion on all of this? Also, I can't help but think that if she actively deceives her husband, she may also deceive people in other parts of her life. Do you think there might be some truth to this?

Carolyn Hax: Back to front: Sure, it's possible that someone who can behave with that much disrespect for her mate has the kind of values that would also make it okay for her to lie to or back-stab her friends. I dont' think it's a certainty, by any means, but it would make sense to look at the context of what she's doing, and of your friendship, and of her other behavior, to see what you see. As an example of "other behavior," I'll use my old standby--how she treats waiters, pets, any others over whom she has power. Mistreatment there is a great sign that she has a larger character flaw.

As for the other--what has she confided to you, exactly? If it's just that she's restless, and you merely pieced together the rest, you kind of have to let it be her business. I.e., she's not asking your opinion, so it's not your place to offer.

But if she's spilling all, about contacting the ex and the colleague stuff, then you have a great opening to say that, yes, crises like these are normal and understandable, but at a certain point she has to grow up or get out of the marriage.


Springfield, Va.: What is it about human nature that forces families to share holiday times together when they really don't want to do so any other time of the year? What causes the guilt factor when you don't attend on of these these phony-baloney never-like-Norman Rockewell gatherings?

Carolyn Hax: I don't know. Maybe it's just hard to cross the line between wishing you had one big happy family, and actually admitting you'll never have one big happy family.


Virginia: Hi Carolyn--thanks for taking my question.

I need to know if I am being a bridezilla, if my mom is being a mom-of-the-bridezilla, or if we're being reasonable. I'm getting married in about a month in a small (23 people) wedding at my parents home. My fiancee has two small cousins--twin 15-month-olds. They are highly mobile kids, into everything and like normal 15 month-olds, not really attuned to the word "no." Their mother is a nice woman, and a stay-at-home mom who routinly complains that she needs a break from the two little ones. Her answer to needing a break is to take them to family gatherings, sit back with a drink, and expect everyone else to watch them. This often rusults in them rampaging through various homes, yanking things off of tables, annoying pets, and threatening to fall down stairs. They also cry a great deal, as kids that age do. We did not invite the two to the wedding, but their parents are bringing them anyway. Mom, and to a lesser extent, I, are worried that the kids will disrupt the ceremony, pull down decorations and tempt the dogs into biting them (the dogs, by the way, WERE invited). The part of the house where the wedding is to take place is simply not childproof and has not been for 20 years. We are thinking of having a babysitter present to watch the kids in another, childproof, area of the house. Is this out of line, or is it a reasonable service to provide for a woman who admits to "needing a break" (granted, we'd get a less stressful day, too)? They are nice kids, just active and normal for their age.

Carolyn Hax: Your hiring a babysitter and childproofing a room are exactly the answer I was going to give you until I got to the last part of your question. Do it, yes, better for all involved.


Fluff Question: Hi, Carolyn. This isn't about puking roosters, but farting grandmothers. With Thanksgiving approaching, it's very relevant. The farter in question is not my own, but my boyfriend's, which makes the situation very awkward. I freely admit that I have the maturity of a pre-schooler, and am visibly amused with concepts such as boogers and farting. This is now a problem as his grandmother is somoeone who I've grown to respect and adore, and who has taken the place by my neglectful grandmother (seriously, who says "I just can't stand grandkids"?). She now insists that I sit next to her every meal, which always ends in her shooting off rapid-fire farts at at rate that would make Rambo jealous. She is practically deaf, and cannot hear what I hear. Occasionally, BF's mom will say something to her, but for the most part the family either ignores it, doesn't notice, or is numb to it. How do I keep down my fit of giggles? I do not want to embarass her, and I hate constantly leaving the table. These people are about to become my in-laws the less tension I can avoid creating the better.

Carolyn Hax: I'm laughing too hard to answer. Anyone?


Carolyn Hax: I know--seat her next to your grandmother.


Back in the Land of the Living: How do you re-enter the world after a short bout with mental illness? Was downed by depression for several months, could go to work and home and that was it, stopped communicating with friends, fell behind on outside projects, just putting one foot in front of the other. Got on meds, crawling out and wondering how to explain to people who probably assumed I just didn't want to hang with them anymore. Do I have to explain? In some ways it was easier when I didn't care, but now I care.

Carolyn Hax: Congratulations on crawling out--that's such a good thing that I really believe the rest is minor stuff that will take care of itself, at least by comparison.

One of the ways it will resolve itself is by your just calling the people you want to see, explaining you had a rough spell and that you're sorry you disappeared, and inviting them to do something with you. That should be enough for anyone who felt slighted. (Fewer people than you'd think, I'd guess; in my experience, people are well used to the fact that everyone has ebbs and flows and the occasional sand-castle-wrecking waves.)

If it isn't enough for some people, you can decide then whether the person has a point or is being too sensitive, and either explain further or choose not to.


Boise, Idaho: Regarding Europe's friend-So what do people DO when they have been in a relationship a number of years and miss the passion and excitement? Is this a normal feeling that happens to everyone or a sign of trouble/immaturity?

Carolyn Hax: I think it's normal feeling, though not necessarily one that happens to everyone; in fact, it's not uncommon for people in happy marriages to be relieved that they're beyond the whole butterfly BS.

I think what you do about missing the butterflies will determine whether you're mature. The Europe friend's response strikes me as infantile, both in the need for butterfies and the way she seeks them. Waiting it out, indulging in the occasional harmless flirtation, or even trying to goose the marriage a bit seems like a grown-up way to deal.

Sometimes dealing with it that way can make a person realize there's bigger trouble, that the love is gone from the marriage, and that brings on a whole other set of questions about stuff like counseling, rekindling, divorce, kids, custody of farting grandmothers.


re: bridezilla: Wait a minute.. these kids weren't invited. Isn't there something to be said about respecting the wishes of the bride/groom/hosts?

Carolyn Hax: There is. But it's too late for that here, so you go to the most sensible plan B.

It's actually kind of nice when people don't get as upset over rude behavior as they're entitled to.


RE: flirting in front of partner: I told a woman I was thinking of dating, who is normally outrageously flirtatious with everyone, that I was worried about it. I said it would be hard for me to date her if she was going to continue flirting in that way. She said she had already thought about it and that she would never humiliate me in that way. Now, she could have said, "well, that's how I am, and I don't think I can/want to stop," and I probably would have passed on dating. If someone attracts you by their flirting (which was the case here), chances are they don't just flirt with you. Anyway, it worked out for us.

Carolyn Hax: I'm trying to see how this isn't outrageously decent and rational, but I can't find anything. Thanks.


Falls Church, Va.: I am getting married in March and my best friend is shocked and appalled that we will not be serving alcohol at the reception. My boyfriend and I drink occasionally, but my family is Baptist and traditionally do not have alcohol at weddings. About 50 percent of the 100 guests will be family who either won't care or won't question this choice. My friend says I should "warn" people there will be no alcohol with a note on the reception card. Is this really necessary? I think most of our friends are adult enough (we are late 30s) to deal with a few hours of celebration without alcohol.

Carolyn Hax: I'm sure they can all handle it, and it is your choice, and your friend is out of line to make you feel like you're doing something wrong. I say that as someone who, if I were one of those 50, would be really bummed at a dry reception.


Sexual Stereotyping: Speaking of stereotyping, got into an interesting discussion about your Wednesday column - someone asked me whether I thought men or women were more likely to "settle" without a spark. I said I figured we were all subject to all sorts of pressures, biological, social, sexual, etc., which might lead us to jump into marriage, sparkless - but that I wasn't sure it was a gender issue. And, any time I start thinking men vs. women, I find myself talking to a male friend who's saying stuff I could be saying.

But, yet, we still do it, all the time, gender/sexual stereotyping, and some of it has validity - it's just important to recognize the limitations. But I struggle with it all the time, and wondered if you do too - because there are some differences, but so many similarities, too.

Carolyn Hax: Sure, I'm constantly running my opinions through an internal generalization filter. Obviously I miss things, but having to stand out here every Friday and take whatever eggs you guys throw at me has certainly improved the filtering process. Plus, the first person who reads (and picks apart) everything I write is male (Nick), and my editor at the syndicate is male, and his deputy who reads the column in his absence is male, and you get the idea. I trust them a lot to call me on my biases.

Though, as an offshoot to what you said about validity, part of the purpose of a column is to -be- biased. There's no place for it in reported news, but columnists are supposed to have a viewpoint.


Bummed at a dry reception?: Really? Why? I mean, I like a nice drinky poo as much as the next person, but if someone doesn't serve at their wedding, particularly for religious reasons, why is that a big deal? Would you really be disappointed to have to celebrate a friend's big event stone cold sober?

Carolyn Hax: It's not that; these days, it's the very rare occasion when I have more than a drink or two. But alcohol is what it is--it makes people a little more festive, even the one-drinkers. And even that isn't the whole reason it would bother me, especially in the case of this wedding, where most poeple wouldn't be drinking even if they were serving wine. I like wine and beer, they have much more to say to a palate than juice or soda, which I don't even like. (Too sweet.) So, it would be water for me, unless they had fizzy unsweetened cider or something, which is pretty unlikely.


Crofton, Md.: For the person working thru depression - I also suffer from depression and was MIA for a while. For some of my closer friends, I actually told them why I was out of the picture. Turns out, it was one of the best things I could have done. They were/are so supportive and one had been thru something similar a few years ago. It has helped me, so maybe something to think about. Good luck.

Carolyn Hax: Thanks.


Stuck on Wednesday: So more on your Wednesday column: what exactly is a

"spark"? I don't think I've ever felt one. I meet lots of nice

guys, and some of these I date, some of those for a long

time. But I haven't felt anything particular - other than

comfortable familiarity - with any of them. Is this normal?

Carolyn Hax: Different people define spark in different ways, so I'll try to cover them all. It is: stomach churning, preoccupation with this person his absence, the urge to rip his clothes off, the sense during conversation that the rest of the people in the room are blurry wah-wah-wah people like the parents in Peanuts; it's the ahhh-feeling, like this is someone who finally gets what you're saying without your having to explain it all, but you explain it anyway becasue you feel like you can say anything anything anything to this person.

Actually, the real answer is, if you're happy, and you feel confident that you're choosing well for yourself in your relationships, then normal doesn't matter.


an egghead answer re: sex differences: I do social science research that's gender related, and one of the best nuggets I got out of a gender class in grad school was this:

Think of a bell curve representing differences among men on some construct/thought/behavior, and another for women. On many things, the distance from the far left to the far right of the men's bell curve, and the distance from the far left to the far right of the women's bell curve is going to be -greater than- the distance between the means (averages, lines down the middle of the bells) of the men's bell curve and the women's bell curve. So, more differences among women and among men than between "average" women and "average" men.

Carolyn Hax: I am holding an egg above my head, like you would a lighter at a rock concert.


re: crawling out: I completely agree with your advice to the person recovering from depression. I've been in the same situation before, and it was actually a huge help to me to find out which friends were understanding and/or chill enough to let those things slide.

Through therapy I had been figuring out that I had a pattern of finding really insecure and unstable friends, and it was nice to know that something as simple as being honest and honestly evaluating your friend's responses can help you break a potentially damaging pattern.

ps - the line I used was "yeah, I kinda fell off the face of the earth for a month or so there. Sorry 'bout that." Most people just laughed and said "it's cool" or asked if I was ok, to which I said "Getting there, thanks." Worked wonderfully.

Carolyn Hax: Thank you, especially for that great middle paragraph. So much there.


Boston, Mass.: Hi Carolyn,

I love your columns and chats and am hoping you can help. Right now my boyfriend and I live in the same house as my grandmother (it's a big house so our living quarters are not close). However, after living with her for awhile now, I've noticed that she has extreme passive-aggressive qualities. For instance, last Sunday (our one day to sleep in), we slept until about 2pm. At one point in the late morning. She came downstairs to where the laundry is, knocked on our bedroom door, opened it, saw that we were still sleeping, said "disgraceful" and proceeded to do laundry while banging around and making as much noise as possible. This example may not seem like much, but on top of loads of other passive-aggressive actions and comments, my patience is wearing thin and I am on-edge and constantly stressed out. My question is, though we are looking for apartments and plan to move out within the next month or so, do I say something to her to allieviate my stress, or just ignore it and count down the days until we move? Her negative attitude is grating on my boyfriend as well, and our relationship is being strained by our personal stress. All of which stresses me out even more. What should I do?

Carolyn Hax: Talk to her. She obviously has stuff she wants to get off her chest; banging around in the laundry room is what people do when they'd rather be ranting and raving but for whatever reason feel they can't.

Go to her with your dukes down, though. Start with something like, "I sense we're getting on your nerves, and the sense that we're getting on your nerves is getting on MY nerves, so, can we please talk about this?"


For the overspender: NFCC is nice but Debtor's Anonymous is a good route for someone who has compulsive spending habits. If someone is going to bemoan their financial straits and continue to spend, the basic budgeting and credit counseling they get isn't going to help much (though it can do wonders for those who are habitual spenders or don't have budgeting skills). A more serious intervention is likely called for when someone is that compulsive.

Carolyn Hax: Great, thanks.


New York, NY: To the seriously NON-BRIDEZILLA Bride: WOW!!! That is an incredibly nice thing you are doing! I would've never thought of that myself. (Me, being the mother of a 17yr old, 1yr and 7 months pg now!) I understand the mom's need for a day off, though I would never take my kids to someone else's wedding unless they were invited, (and maybe not even then).

But I just had to say that I wish there were more people in the world like you who thought to do this for their friends and/or relatives with babies.

You deserve to have a beautiful wedding day and I wish you the best!

Carolyn Hax: Since I so rarely get to pass along sunshine.


Springfield, Va.: I have been dating a wonderful guy for almost 2 years now. We are both 26, have stable jobs and have our own homes. Whenever we talk about getting married, he always says he's not ready and needs more time. I am getting extremely frustrated and am not sure whether I should still wait for him to be ready or just forget the relationship and move on with my life.

Carolyn Hax: If you can sympathize with the reasons he might not be ready, then stay with it. (FWIW, I can--the twenties are a time of serious flux, and some people feel confident in their adult selves a lot sooner than others, and people who don't feel confident that way are so right not to get married.)

If you get the sense that he just doesn't love you as you love him, or is constitutionally indecisive, or jerking you around, or whatever, then it's time to go.

You don't have to decide this today. Watch a while, try on different perspectives, live, see if any of it starts to make sense.


Holiday Letters?: Carolyn,

What is your take on holiday letters? It's about the time of year to begin thinking about writing ours, and I'm debating.

On the one hand, we (husband, me & dogs, no kids) do it every year (5 in a row), and it's mostly a handful of pictures w/captions underneath.

On the other hand, this has been a bad year. (Miscarriage followed by infertility which has completely consumed our lives.) We really do not have much to "show" for the year. (No new jobs, homes, activities, trips, ZILCH really.)

Family & friends know about the loss and the "trying again." Will the lack of a holiday letter make them think we're either pregnant and not telling (SO not true) or that we're depressed (somewhat true)??

OR Am I just over-thinking this because I am dreading the holiday season approaching?


Carolyn Hax: I'm sorry your year doesn't have you waxing literary.

Though I'm sure everyone can relate--which kind of sums up my take on holiday letters. I love them when they include things people actually want to hear about (meaning, not your dude ranch vacation, thanks), and to which almost anyone can relate--triumphs, disappointments, milestones, funnies. Obviously no one expects or wants to hear any private details, so of course you needn't and shouldn't discuss your miscarriage or, say, your MIL's affair. But if someone lost a job, then someone lost a job. It's part of the year in the life of your family, and I really appreciate a quick and honest retelling of that year. Gold star if you can laugh at yourselves.

In general, I mean. Obviously you aren't in that kind of mood, so a picture or two with a "Looking forward to 2006" -style caption would be a nice way to keep your streak going without faking it or saying too much.


Baptist Wedding: I was at a dry reception recently. If you really can't deal w/o alcohol for a few hours, bring in a hip flask. Then call AA.

Carolyn Hax: Oh brother. Disappointment is hardly the same thing as an inability to deal.

This kind of response is actually why I answered that question in the first place. Most parties include alcohol, but if you say out loud, "I prefer parties that include alcohol," you're tagged as some kind of drunk, or seen as needing a crutch. Wine is not evil, nor is enjoying it, nor is missing it when it's not there. There's no need for finger-pointing.


RE boys will be boys: Well...if men's self-worth and societal 'value' were predicated on looks and looks only, they'd freak out too.

Carolyn Hax: Is that really how you feel? Like nothing you say or do matters because you're female?

Are you reading this because you think I'm pretty?

That is some serious self-loathing you're carrying around. And I'm saying that not in a what's-YOUR-problem-way, but in an I'm-worried-about-you way.


To Springfield: I was that 20-something old guy who wasn't ready to commit--and believe me, I wasn't--and 5 years into my relationship with my girlfriend that she was the woman I wanted to marry.

I'm 50 now and have been married 18 great years. She said she wouldn't have held out much longer for me, but I'm very glad she did.

Carolyn Hax: Either a great post, thank you, or the fuel for the renewal of countless delusions and rationalizations.

Anyone in this situation--look around, think, ask yourself questions. The differences between a person who cares about you and really does need more time, and a person who's jerking you around, are usually there to be seen.


Tiredville, Maryland: Carolyn,

Did you let your little ones cry it out? My little man is 10 months old and he only wants to sleep with me. At one point he was sleeping in his crib through the night, but that seems like a long lost dream. Got any advice for an extremely tired Mama?

Carolyn Hax: My experience was, there's no way to do it without some crying (theirs and, on the worst nights, mine). When I asked my pediatrician how to break a bad sleeper of bad habits, she said to put the crib in the dining room (i.e., so we couldn't hear the screaming). I think the important thing is to find a way to do it that doesn't make you feel like a monster--be it checking in at intervals to reassure, or to ease into it, or whatever. Go to the library or ask other moms, and read a few of the big sleep books to see if any one program seems to suit your tolerances and your baby's disposition. (You can get a good idea of the major players--Ferber, Sears, etc.--on parenting Web sites.) Then, give it a try.


Washington, DC: Okay, here it is: after about a year of almost no communication, I'm seeing my ex again. Sort of. He called and asked to see me and I accepted and we slept together and it was great and now I don't know where this is headed. The reason we broke up the first time was because he decided he didn't want anything serious (after it had become something serious) and I didn't want anything less. Now I'm not sure if I do or don't want anything serious, but I want it to have the potential to develop. Am I a fool?

Carolyn Hax: Don't make me say it.

Expect nothing, and, if you want it to be something, then just tell him you want it to be something. But only do that if you're ready to have bad news said to your face. Let anything better than that be a pleasant surprise.


Philadelphia, Pa.: In response to OMGville from last Friday's chat session. Why was there no mention that this was sexual harrassment? I assume if the gender roles had been reversed, there would have been more mention of the inappropriateness of the comment.

Carolyn Hax: Actually: "Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment." (Thanks, EEOC.)


Carolyn Hax: Gotta run. Thanks all, happy weekend and type to you next Friday.


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