washingtonpost.com
Tell Me About It

Carolyn Hax
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 10, 2006 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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Baggage, USA: Hi Carolyn! At what stage in a new relationship should someone disclose their past "baggage"?

I'm 28 and have only dated one guy. We were together for 10 years and got engaged. It's taken me a while, but I've been able to move on. I have finally started dating someone new. I don't like to talk about my past relationship, but I'm wondering if it comes up. I especially feel inexperienced and worry if I don't mention anything that it'll be like I'm "withholding" this info. What's the proper "etiquette"? Thanks!

Carolyn Hax: Hi, and happy Friday. The best "etiquette" is to make some peace with your past. It's not bad, it's not good, it just is. And, it'll come up when it comes up.

As for when it "should" come up, there;s no rule, but I think my usual advice applies here--that if you've gotten to the point where you feel as if you're keeping a secret by not telling, then it's time to say something. But since your past isn't a "bad" thing per se, I can't see why it wouldn't come up in the normal course of early dates.

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TV land: I heard the following line on TV yesterday and I'd like to get your reaction to it.

"When you get married, you cease to exist."

Carolyn Hax: It's almost complete bull****. What can I say. The only reason I qualify it with "almost" is that an unhappy marriage can make you feel like you're losing yourself, especially an abusive one. (But even then, it's that very sensation, of losing self, that often tips a person off to the sickness of the marriage.) Otherwise it just sounds like something you say for effect. Like, on TV or something.

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Kensington, Md.: I really need some help on this from you and the nuts. Online only please.

My parents are planning to take the entire family on a cruise this summer. Fourteen people to Bermuda. Sister's family of four, brother's family of four, etc. The problem is that they are paying for everyone except my boyfriend/partner of three years. I guess since we can't get married that they feel like he is not part of the family.

This has really got me messed up. I don't know what to feel or how to react. I want to respect their feelings but this has hit me (and him) very hard.

Longing to get past this.

Carolyn Hax: Would you be married, if you could be? Would they be paying for your siblings' mates/dates, if they weren't married? I know it's hard to know the answers to these questions, but try to answer them, in your gut, as objectively as you can. And then, if the answer is yes to either question, then you should say something to your parents. But if the answer is no to both, then maybe you should consider this is not necessarily about your being gay. It might be along the lines of the "discrimination" that goes on when some couples are making up their wedding guest lists, and they treat married people as couples and cohabiting/dating couples as single.

Not that that's a good thing, either, just that, if you're trying to get past this, examining other possibilities before you talk to your parents could help you keep your lid on.

BTW, I assume your BF is invited, they're just not paying the tab? If that's the case, then it might help to make it clear to your parents that it's not about the money, it's about the message they're sending, that your commitment doesn't count as much as your married siblings'.

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Reston, Va: Re: TV Land. I heard that comment too, but it was in the context of sharing your financial lives. Her point was that when you marry, you are no longer one person financially, you are responsible for your mate's credit and vice versa. The speaker didn't mean it as description of your whole self, just in terms of financials.

Carolyn Hax: The context makes a huge difference, thanks.

Funny thing, though--I still disagree somewhat. As for being responsible for the other person's credit as if it's your own, yay, but I do think it's important for married people to retain some individuality in their finances. Each spouse should have some personal, discretionary resources separate from the family pool, even a little bit, and each should consider the possibility that the other might not always be around. Both of these are especially important for a spouse who doesn't work or who makes dramatically less than the other. (Two words: Life insurance.)

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"When you get married, you cease to exist.": Carolyn, it isn't quite complete bullspit. When you get married, or get into a committed relationship, your priorities may change or get re-arranged. And so you aren't exactly the same person you were.

The same applies if you have kids, or if you make a drastic change in your job/career track, or if you have any other life-altering event.

It's sorta like the old adage that "you can't go home again." It's true in the sense that if you leave home and then come back after a period of time, you've changed and home has changed and so things aren't the same as they were before you left.

It's not a bad thing; it's a stream-of-time and experience thing, and it really is true.

Carolyn Hax: That's all fine, but I dont' equate it at all with ceasing to exist. The self is still there in all cases, and in the best cases flourishing in response to the sercurity of a loving commitment.

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For Kensington: As much as it hurts to feel excluded in this way, please bear in mind that it may not be about your boyfriend as much as your childlessness. In my family, it's pretty much expected that the that those of us whose dependents are furry and four-legged have more discretionary spending than those of us whose dependents have college funds.

Carolyn Hax: Another strong possibility, thanks.

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Black Tuesday: Hi Carolyn... I hope you can help... I'm a 30-something gal who's never in her life had a Valentine. Never. Not one. (The ones from mommy and daddy are just not the same!) Even through several relationships over the years. I've started seeing a guy in recent weeks and things seem to be going slow and steady but well... but he seems to be avoiding me and the dreaded day (with no mention of it whatsoever) as well. This is an otherwise nice guy as far as I can tell. I'm not a big fan of the day myself - forced lovie-dovieness seems absurd at best, emotional blackmail really.

At what point do I take this (guys I date hiding out for the week) personally? Should I take it personally? Should I walk away from him now? What are your thoughts?

Carolyn Hax: Don't put past Valentine's baggage on this guy (or yourself). I'd say it's just a stupid day, but in fact it's more than that--it's an Institution That Won't Be Ignored, one that puts people in new relationships into unecessarily awkward spots. Christmas is just as bad, if you think about it, maybe worse.

In honor of your history, maybe the best thing you could do for yourself is to make other plans with a friend or two, and let the guy off the hook. A gesture of mercy from one V-day vet to a presumed other.

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Carolyn Hax: Just got an error message when I posted a Q and A, so I'm going to take a second to see if everything's working. Hum amongst yourselves. Maybe the "Ode to Joy."

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Carolyn Hax: Turns out a post did vanish. I'm trying to scare it back up, but will keep going in the meantime. Sorry for the blip.

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Our story so far...: Interesting thread...so let me get this straight: When you marry, you cease to exist as an individual, but you are now part of a duo meaning you will both be invited on cruises and to weddings, and you'll always have a date for Valentine's Day. Is that about right? Trying to follow along...

Carolyn Hax: I find it's easier to find a nice smooth piece of wall, and then bang my forehead on it.

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Feels like yesterday....: How would you respond to this from your 12 year old daughter: "Mom, I'm afraid no boy will ever have a crush on me."

Carolyn Hax: "Everybody's afraid of that, even the boys. It could be someone has already had a crush on you and he was too shy to act on it."

But I had time to think about it, which is something Mom never gets.

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Anonymous: speaking of the dreaded Hallmark holiday, do you think "I like you better than the person I'm dating, but I can't break up with her until after Valentine's day," is inherently bs, or a dealbreaker?

Carolyn Hax: Aren't those the same thing? Call it a BS dealbreaker.

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Contact with the Ex: 2 cents on your suggestion about the newly married man who did not want his wife to know he was talking to an ex. I am in that boat. I am still friends with a few people I dated years ago and talk to them almost exclusively from the office. My wife doesn't want to know about it. She wants to pretend that it doesn't exist. It's a total double standard, because she still contacts some of her ex's. She admits it's irrational, but she'd just rather not know. So I humor that. Would it be better for her to get over whatever bugs her? Sure, but it's not worth the therapy time.

Carolyn Hax: At least you've got it out in the open that you have her permission/marching order to keep things secret from her. So, you explain that to the people who can call only your office number, and you wash your hands of it. In every marriage/partnership, people make their deals.

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What if I only want ONE...: ...kid?

That cannot possibly be okay, can it? She'll be spoiled rotten, right? And she won't socialize well with other kids, right? And she'll be lonely, right?

We were supposed to want at least two. (I was raised as an only child and had all the above problems.) My husband stays home with our three-year-old and he's doing a great job raising her. But I swore I wouldn't have another child unless I could stay home with him/her, and by the time we can afford for me to do that, my chances of conceiving will have dropped significantly. Besides, I'm just so -#$! tired now, I can't imagine going through all that again. And the three of us are really happy together. And it doesn't seem fair to my daughter to have another child when I feel like I don't have enough time for her. (My husband is of the same mind on this, though we haven't set anything in stone yet.)

What do you do when you're suddenly okay with something you never thought you'd be okay with? Comments/criticism from you and the 'nuts would be welcome.

Carolyn Hax: I'm sure there are a lot of only children who wish they'd had a sibling, but there are others who would take great exception to the idea that they were somehow deprived or poorly socialized.

A lot of people have one kid. A lot of people decide to have one because they feel they can't give another baby the attention s/he deserves. Others have that decision made for them. Either way, it is what it is, and you do your best for the child you have. Since you know what it means to be an only child, you're in a great position to know what she might be missing and to find other ways to fill those needs.

BTW, not to cast doubt on your decision or anything, but merely as thought food: Just as your decision never to have an only child should be open to a challenge, your decision not to have another baby if you can't stay home should also be open challenge. Since you've already found that absolutes don't fare well in the childrearing arena, you might as well put all of them out to the curb.

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Boston, Mass.: I'm art f a group of 20-somethings that hangs out after work and on occasion goes to a movie or another outing. One of our members was diagnosed as pre-diabetic, lost 60 pounds, and has turned into the food police! The rest of us range from thin to chubby but none is seriously overweight. But you would think we're all obese! If someone orders ranch dressing on a salad, she will say, "No, make it vinaigrette." One member of our group, a 6; 1" marathon runner who weighs 140, said last week that, if you say anything about my order, I'm going to leave -- which he did, after she pointed out his steak could kill him! We're happy for her and know she means well, but we're more and more inclined not to include her in our outings. Some of us have asked her individually to please lay off, but this hsn't worked. Any thoughts? Thanks.

Carolyn Hax: Sounds like you'd be justified at this point, and you also have the foundation set for explaining exactly why, which is, strange as it sounds, a luxury in a situation like this. (Most people are stuck with just not calling the person any more and feeling guilty ever after, but you guys get to say, "Hey, we've asked you please to stop being food police, and while we know you mean well, it's bothersome enough that we really are going to stop including you.")

But ... the inevitable but ... I think it's already SO out there that you can give her another chance or three, just by saying things like, "No, I'm having the ranch, thanks, and if you keep interfering we're all going to leave." The lighter the better, too. The tone, not the dressing.

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Only child here: I am an only child, and I'm okay. I sometimes wish I had siblings, but I have great friendships with several people who I consider family. And I'm also very independent. I was what some may consider spoiled since my parents could afford to do more for me, but I was always taught to appreciate everything I get and therefore never expect things of people. My parents are both only children as well, which makes for VERY easy holiday celebrations - we're portable!

Carolyn Hax: Wondering what that's like. Thanks!

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Re: One child: I always wanted a bunch of kids, then after having my first, I realized I only wanted one. After three years one morning my husband and I both realized we wanted another one, and we're now expecting. People change, circumstances change, and I guess one day you realize all that "family planning" you do goes thrown out the window because either your desire to have another or not have one is soo much strong. It's OK.

Carolyn Hax: Okay. Thanks.

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Baltimore, Md.: Carolyn,

Is there any reason a brother of the bride should give his sister a gift for her bridal shower?

I was told by my mother that I should get my sister a shower gift. I took offense to that and told my mother that it isn't her place to tell me to get a gift, and also, between the engagement party, and wedding, I will have gifted enough.

Am I out of line?

Carolyn Hax: There's no reason the brother of the bride sould give her a shower gift.

But even if there were a reason, you'd still be well within your rights to say to your mother, "Mom, thanks, but this is between me and my sister."

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Ugh!: Carolyn,

Who would even WANT to be with someone who was waiting to ditch a girlfriend until after V-day? Would you ever trust that person?

Carolyn Hax: There's that, but only after you respect the person enough to care whether you trust him, and I'd be stuck at the first obstacle on this one.

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Valentine's Day: Do you think generally men appreciate sentimental gifts as much as women do?

Carolyn Hax: I don't think "generally" is useful in these sitations. All that counts is if the man in question, or the woman in question for that matter, would appreciate the kind of gift you intend to give.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey Carolyn! Wondering how long to wait before telling folks we're expecting. I am the type of person who likes to share right away, but am aware of the dangers of doing so before 12 weeks. Thoughts? Thanks.

Carolyn Hax: The "danger" is only that you might have to go around spreading sad news to all the places you spread the happy news. So, if that doesn't scare you (think carefully; it can be hellish), then share away. If it does, though, you don't have to have a complete embargo just because miscarriages aren't uncommon; you just have to think whom you'd tell about a miscarriage, if you were to have one, and limit your news sharing to those people.

Bummer that you have to take such a dark line of thinking at a happy time, but, then, it's not like you aren't made aware of dark possibilites at just about every stage of pregnancy anyway.

And, hey, congratulations!

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Anonymous: Hi Carolyn,

Can you define the difference between being best friends with someone and being in a relationship with them? It seems like the answer is more than one is a physical relationship and one isn't, but I can't quite put my finger on the difference. Thanks!

Carolyn Hax: Idunno. Maybe it's that you regard the future as something you're doing together?

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Annapolis, Md.: Submitting early 'cause I'll be in class.

I'm a sophomore at an atypical college, and I'm worried about my roommate, who is a terrible student. She hasn't turned a single paper in on time this year. She is admittedly behind in math but too shy to get math assistance. She routinely does not do her reading for seminar. And while we're at a college where students can get away with such things more easily than most, I'm concerned about her. At the end of sophomore year we have to be "enabled" by our professors, and at this point, I almost want her to be disenabled (or asked to leave), because I've begun to resent the fact that she's so rarely prepared while I try to be.

She's a good friend, and I don't really want to see her be kicked out -- I know that she genuinely wants to be here -- but I don't see her doing what she needs to, which is frustrating. She realizes that she should be doing better, but she doesn't, and I've come to believe that she may not be capable of improving. She still gets wake-up calls from her mother, she can't clean her own room or pack to go home without her mother's help. I know she has problems with ADD and depression, though the latter doesn't rear up often, but I can't help but think that those aren't good enough excuses for her getting so behind?

My parents have suggested that I nag her about it, or at least encourage her, but I don't feel like that's something I should have to do, and I suspect it would make the room situation more awkward. She's said repeatedly that she needs encouragement from the professors, which she does get, but all that seems to improve is her mood.

As her friend and roommate, I want to help in some way, and that usually manifests in my reminding her to attend class (she's often sleeping). I would miss her if she left, and worry about where she would end up. But I'm not sure how I can support her without becoming her mother, and I'm hesitant to really express these worries to her in depth because I know that she herself is worried, and I don't want to stress her out more. Help?

Carolyn Hax: Please talk to someone in the student-advisory chain at your school, either your immediate RA or, if you feel more comfortable, someone else higher up. My inclination is to say that you aren't responsible for your roommate, even as her friend, and that the best thing you can do for her (especially given her mother's over-involvement) is let her stand or fall on her own--obviously, in hopes that she recognizes that falling sensation as her cue to learn how to stand.

But, I also think you do have a responsibility, both as this girl's friend and as a member of the college community, to tip off those who are in the position to be responsible for her that she might need extra attention.

Plus, I think you'll feel a lot better about your decision if you make it with the guidance of people who are trained to handle these situations. It'll take a lot of the burden from your shoulders, where it doesn't belong to begin with.

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Arlington, Va.: Carolyn:

My future mother-in-law is a virulent racist (she's actually my fiancee's stepmother). Several friends of both my fiancee and me are not white and we know she will cause a scene (she's done this at every event we've been to). Should we bag the whole wedding idea and elope? My future father-in-law is in very poor health and will be extremely disappointed that he won't be able to see his only child married. Can you think of a better solution that eloping? We will not consider excluding any of our friends from a wedding (we can't give the racist stepmother the satisfaction and we'd hate to have to exclude many of our close friends).

Carolyn Hax: Yuck. Anything you do other than a normal wedding (whatever that is ...) will make you feel like a racist is running your life, but, at the same time, it would be rotten to set up your friends to be unwitting extras in her scene.

You could have a family-only wedding, and at a later date a party to celebrate your marriage with your friends--to which you don't invite the stepmonster.

That said, how you accommodate your FFIL is up to you and your fiancee. This is the guy who married the virulent racist, and who I could therefore argue made his bed. Obviously there's the other side, too, that this is her father and if she wants him there--or even if she's not prepared to deliver the face-slap of exclusion--then you need to include him and adjust for the monster factor.

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New York, N.Y.: Carolyn, I'm a 25 year old virgin. Not waiting till marriage but waiting for the right moment that hasnt happened yet. Do you think there's something wrong with me? I never did but things have been said lately to make me question my choices...

Carolyn Hax: Pttht to the things that have been said--unless I suppose they've been specific to you and you've had good cause to take them to heart, in which case a little self-examination might not be a bad thing. (Say, for example, your best friend tells you you're very judgmental in general and even tougher on people you date; that's something to weigh carefully, since being kinder would benefit all.)

But if you're just getting things like, if you're a virgin at your age there's something wrong with you, I'd counter that if people are throwing genralizations at you there's something wrong with them. Everyone moves at his or her own pace, and there's usually a reason for it--good taste, bad luck, shyness, abuse, whatever. Question your pace only if -you- don't like it, for -your- reasons.

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Washington, D.C.: To the college student: While you say your roommates depression doesn't happen often, if she's "sleeping" through classes, and needs mom or someone to wake her, can't seem to manage to coordinate her schedule, etc., that may be the depression. She doesn't have to sit around crying or looking miserable.

Carolyn Hax: Thanks.

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For Annapolis from a University Employee: Carolyn's right, you want to inform the health professionals and RAs at your school about your roommate, particularly because of the ADHD and depression worries, but really this sort of thing is their job and should not be yours.

Furthermore, here at my medium state university we see a lot of people burn out, flame out, and disappear. Serious health questions aside, it can actually be for the best. Not every student SHOULD be in college, and failure for her might actually give her the wake-up call to decide what she actually wants to do with her life. We get a lot of people who vanish, pull their lives together, and come back, much happier and more focused. Failure is not such a bad thing.

Carolyn Hax: Thank you, thank you.

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Alexandria, Va.: The racist MIL: tell her if she makes a scene you will have security remove her. And do it.

Carolyn Hax: More of a scene, but satisfying like you only read about. Thanks.

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Burned on both ends: Hi, Carolyn!

Last night, my boyfriend informed me that four of his (countless) friends have expressed disapproval of me, because of the way I quip. My mouth only is ever an issue between he and I when he's in a bad mood about something unrelated.

I feel that it's unfair for him to have used the fact his friends don't like me as ammunition. He feels its unfair I told him I really don't care what his friends think, and that it's besides the point of his argument. I have friends of my own who do like my personality. He said his friends are an extension of himself and if I don't care about them, I don't care about him.

So now I'm confused. I'm sick of having this argument. To me it's a stupid argument, fuelled by his willingness to take his anger out on me. We live together. Help?

Carolyn Hax: He said, she said, his friends said, he said, they said, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Your boyfriend doesn't like this aspect of your personality. Now what? Your call.

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Racist FMIL: Carolyn,

Don't you think another option is for both bride and groom (or just bride) to sit down with the future in-laws and say that IF they have a wedding rather than eloping, it will be with the understanding that their friends are more important to them than accommodating bad behavior (or however they want to express it), and that therefore the FMIL either agrees to behave or is told she can't come? May not be possible, but the possibility of the FFIL not seeing his only child marry might make him (the FFIL) see the light about the situation. Especially if there's a history to point to, as the poster indicated.

Carolyn Hax: Works for me, thank you.

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Sacramento, Calif.: Considerate or inconsiderate? My stepmother passed away in September. Her birthday and anniversary date with my father are both in February. Do I acknowledge these dates only if he brings them up or do I let him know I remember and think about them, too?

Carolyn Hax: I can't see the down side of letting your father know you're thinking of him.

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Re: monster in law: Have one of your friends play referee. I did this for a good friend at her wedding by keeping her monster-in-law occupied and away from the main stage. It worked for the most part and I didn't mind doing it because she's a good friend. It was my gift to the happy couple. When they got back from their honeymoon they wrote me a nice thank you note saying how nice it was not to have to worry about the monster so they could enjoy their wedding day.

Carolyn Hax: Interesting idea, but I'm wondering how you managed to keep a grown, sentient woman "occupied." I can see assigning a defender to cover one hot player for an entire game, but when my little mind tries to translate it to a social situation, I see a nicely dressed woman waving her arms to contain someone near the buffet.

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Washington, D.C.: Does it make me needy if I need to hear the words "I Love You" every day or near to it? I wish this wasn't something that I liked hearing, and could just believe it by the actions my boyfriend does, but there is something about the words that feels important to me. Please tell me that I shouldn't need to hear the words to know. Thanks!

Carolyn Hax: It's one thing just to like hearing it; it's another to question your BF's feelings for you to the point that you need to hear it. That sounds like its own level of hell.

It doesn't necessarily mean you're at fault for not believing he loves you. Men and women are certainly quite capable of withholding affection from mates, either consciously or not, to keep them guessing, and therefore desperate, and therefore needy. (Really an effective and efficient control tactic, if you think about it.) He could be doing that, certainly.

But whether the doubts come from you and your insecurity/baggage/whatever, or from him, it is up to you to deal with the source of the craving head on, instead of just trying to satisfy it by upping the I-love-you supply. Meaning it's not whether you're needy but -why- you're so needy--meaning you've got some thinking to do.

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His friends: When your guy volunteers to you he's not ready for you to meet his friends, what if anything do you read into that? He's ashamed of you? He's hiding something? He's got serious baggage?

Carolyn Hax: When you asked those quesitons, what did he say?

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To Annapolis Sophomore: That could have been me (minus the mother part). Talk to your RA and talk to the college/university psych counslers and see how they can help your roommate.

I ended up being diagnosed with anxiety disorder and all those resources - including my friend/roomate - were instrumental in helping me help myself.

Good luck!

Carolyn Hax: Thanks.

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Beacon Falls, Conn.: Regarding the miscarriage issue, one other thing to consider is your husband's view of it. Before we had a miscarriage, my wife told a wide circle of people -- both family and friends -- which made me uncomfortable. When we had the miscarriage, we both had to inform people of our misfortune. It's not a great position to be in when you didn't want the information out in the first place. I wouldn't necessarily have changed what we did, since it was very important to my wife that she tell people, but it certainly was a point of contention between us...

Carolyn Hax: Thanks. I think it's a good suggestion that couples talk about it beforehand, but I think there is a point, when a natural celebrator is married to a natural wait-and-seer, that the latter has to accept--in fact, celebrate--the former. There's something sad about putting a lid on someone exuberant, even for sensible reasons. So maybe the point of talking is just to make sure the exuberant one is aware of the possible consequences before s/he goes out and rents the skywriter.

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Re: Annapolis, Md: My freshman year roommate did the exact same things as was described by the poster. At the time, I was too busy, naive, silly, uninformed to do anything, but looking back - her college career could have been much more successful had she been approached with some professional help/advice. I still feel guilty about not being mature enough back then to point her in the right direction - or to point someone who could help in her direction. Just sayin'.

Carolyn Hax: Sayin' well, too, but please don't feel guilty. If there weren't pain involved, you probably wouldn't have learned what you did and you'd still be busy, naive, silly, uninformed. Which actually sounds like a pretty nice way to go through life. So, never mind.

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His friends: He said he's not ready to take it to that level.

Carolyn Hax: Sounds pretty spineless, but, what do I know. Let me go read the transcript again ...

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Carolyn Hax: How long have you been a couple?

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Also in Baggage USA: Would your response to the question submitted by Baggage USA re: when to reveal a 10 year relationship that included an engagement change if the situation were a 10 year relationship - 5 dating and 5 married? My divorce is being finalized this month, and I'm just starting to dip my toes in the dating pool...it just seems (at least to me, but I'm stuck in the middle of it) that while a failed engagement is one thing, a failed marriage is something else entirely.

Carolyn Hax: What, more to hide or more to discuss? If you checked the first box, please back away from the dating pool, you're not ready. 1. It will bother some people that you're divorced, but those are the ones you -want- to scare off early. Sooner the better. 2. All together now: It's not about being perfect, it's about how you handle your imperfections.

You fell in love, you got married, you had problems you tried to fix but couldn't. Again, if you're with someone who thinks you're suspect because you chose wrong, or who thinks you were obligated to make things work somehow till death did you part, then better to scare that someone off asap.

In the course of a normal conversation, it's going to come up that you were married before. (E.g., you talk about traveling somewhere, you're going to say, "I was there with my then-wife/husband." Whatever. Right?

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friends: Just been a month or so and still casual.

Carolyn Hax: Hm. Still sounds doinkish to me--just be comfortable with yourself already, and let everyone meet everyone else.

But that's just me. Keep reading.

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"That Level"???: "he's not ready to take it to that level"? Um, it's an introduction to friends (NO BIG DEAL -- do you wait to introduce a new friend to old friends), not an introduction to parents, or an offer of permanency.

Sounds like the boy could use a pair of bacon pants.

Carolyn Hax: And:

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Boston, MA: Perhaps he's dating someone else. That's fine if you have an understanding that it's not monogamous - not sure how people who date several people at the same time decide who meets which friends when.

Carolyn Hax: And:

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"He said he's not ready to take it to that level.": Ewww, ewww, ewwww. High "ick" factor. Sooooooo judgemental and controlling. If the poster is a decent human being and the friends are same, what's the problem with introducing them?

Red flags waving all over the place here. I'd dump Mr. Not Ready.

Carolyn Hax: And:

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Re: His friends: You need to tell that chick that if this guy isn't bouncing off the wall psyched for the people he's closest to to meet her, then he's just "not that into her" and she needs to tell him to take a hike. If he's really digging her, he'd be begging her to meet them. If he isn't, she should find someone who is.

Carolyn Hax: And:

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Fairfax: I love these chats, but go enjoy your Friday afternoon!

Carolyn Hax: And. Okay. Thanks, bye, and type to you next week.

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