DEAR AMY: I need advice on setting boundaries during the “exploratory” phase of a relationship. We are both in our 60s and have been seeing each other exclusively for six months. We live three hours apart, so we don’t have the luxury of casual or spontaneous dates.
Our visits are usually two to four days in duration. That intensity of being together brings a host of problems, especially this one: When is the proper time for discussing disposing of property (cars, jewelry and other belongings) that were part of a previous marriage?
She thinks I should dispose of my three vehicles (none especially valuable but very functional). My three children are very attached to my 1984 pickup that has been the source of many fantastic family memories.
Most controversial is a beautiful set of gold cuff links and studs given to me by my second wife 20 years ago. I wore them to a formal event with her, and she had a complete meltdown when she learned their origin and went home early the next day. This has been a huge issue.
I haven’t asked her to get rid of her things (including a beautiful ruby engagement ring), nor am I likely to. I think it is really inappropriate at this point in our relationship.
I would gladly get rid of any item she has a problem with as long as she replaced the item with something I could cherish from her. I feel my boundaries are getting trampled, and so does my counselor. -- Bewildered in Va.
DEAR BEWILDERED: The guidelines about disposing of property from your own life when you are in your 60s and in a new “exploratory” relationship are as follows:
There are none. Because it’s stupid.
Your female friend seriously wants you to get rid of your automobiles? Is her rationale that your 1984 pickup once transported one of your previous wives to the garden center?
I grant that jewelry and other intimate gifts from previous spouses can be emotionally loaded, but after the whole truck thing, I’m not inclined to give this woman the benefit of the doubt.
You should clear your house of fun photos showing you romping with previous partners. Otherwise, for now, she’s going to have to deal. With your life. As is.
DEAR AMY: My boyfriend and I have been in a good relationship for five years. We have had our ups and downs but are a strong unit.
Lately, I have been seeing old friends getting married and having babies, and I’m starting to wonder when it will be my turn. The problem is my boyfriend still wants to experience life. How do I tell him that I am ready to move on and grow up in life without scaring him away? -- Growing Up
DEAR GROWING: Finding a partner, a steady job and home, and building a life together is “experiencing life,” but if your boyfriend doesn’t see this, then he definitely isn’t ready to experience life as you want to live it.
You both need to be brave enough to tell the truth to each other. He may have his own life plan that involves all of the things you want — but further down the road.
DEAR AMY: “Want to Exit” wrote to you expressing his desire to come out surrounded by supportive people.
My son told my husband and me that he was gay the summer between ninth and tenth grades. He began telling selected friends and was public about his orientation through the rest of high school, serving with his high school’s “Gay-Straight Alliance” club and on a committee in our church that advocates for full rights for all LGBTQ people.
While we were concerned that his openness would have unintended consequences, making high school a difficult experience, our fears were misplaced. What we had not fully appreciated is the stress and strain of keeping such a secret and essentially living a lie. I am grateful that our son’s integrity and courage were undaunted by our initial concerns. -- Proud Mom
DEAR PROUD: Your son’s family and community created a safe space where he could be himself. That is something you all should be proud of.