The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Carolyn Hax: Fiance is friendly to everyone. How can I make him stop?

(Nick Galifianakis/For The Washington Post)
3 min

Carolyn Hax is away. The following first appeared Oct. 17 and Nov. 14, 2008.

Dear Carolyn: I have been engaged for six months to a sweet, adoring, incredibly generous guy. This will be a second marriage for both of us.

My problem is that my fiance is overly nice! He is also overly sociable. This man strikes up conversations with anyone and everyone, wherever we go! At first it didn’t bother me, but lately I get embarrassed and angry. He will compliment strangers on their clothing and joke around with kids, retail clerks, waiters — basically any and everyone! I find his behavior odd and frankly quite irritating!

I’ve tried to nicely tell him that he is “too nice” to people, but he just says it’s the way he was brought up. I want to resolve this before I commit to marriage. Please don’t recommend counseling, because he doesn’t see anything wrong with his behavior.

— K.

K.: I find your use of exclamation points “frankly quite irritating,” but I imagine when you just read that, you got angry or defensive. As you should have. It’s not my place to tell you how to write.

So the problem isn’t that he sees nothing wrong with his behavior; it’s that neither of you sees anything wrong with your behavior — in viewing your own opinion of proper socializing as the universal standard, and in believing it’s your place to tinker with your fiance’s personality traits to make them more to your liking.

It’s a common problem. While dating, you spruce up your differences with flowers and strategic lighting, but when you commit, you start thinking major renovations. Common, but deeply unfair and self-defeating.

Over six months, you’ve gotten a closer look at your fiance. If you get married, expect to learn even more about him, to live amid closets and attics and basements and drawers packed with details about him. Will it all be giggles and fairy dust? Of course not. But if knowing him better means liking him less, not more, then please note: A downward trajectory is not one you want to follow into a marriage. He’s either the life of your party, as-is, or he’s your second ex-husband-to-be.

Tell us: What's your favorite Carolyn Hax column about new beginnings?

Hi, Carolyn: I’m a 29-year-old who’s been in a happy, fulfilling relationship for three years. We have a daughter together, and he is the most nurturing, doting father I’ve ever met.

He has a career, owns a house and is very loving and respectful toward me, but my family refuses to accept him, because, gasp!, he’s 20 years my senior. They worry he’ll pass away while I’m still “young,” and I’ll have to raise a child by myself.

How can I tell my family that I love this man immensely and would rather spend what time I’m allotted with him than never know him at all? We’re not married (our situation works for us), but that’s not an issue with my parents.

— Ridiculously Happy

Ridiculously Happy: Theirs was a fine concern when you first met this guy, I suppose, though I don’t share it. Your life. But with the child already here, your family is too worried, too late. What do they want you to do now, exactly — leave him? Get a jump on solo parenting?

Your opinion on enjoying the time you’re allotted is nicely said but not a solution. He’s your child’s father. Done, sold, Yahtzee! Your most powerful argument is the fact of a fait accompli.

So lay out their remaining options: They can dwell on the past, dread your future or join your reality already in progress.