Dear Carolyn:

I think my future father-in-law made a pass at me. That sounds old-fashioned but I don’t know what to call it. We had all been drinking a bit after a very nice dinner at his parents’ home. My future mother-in-law went up to bed and my fiance and I were headed out (he was already outside and I was gathering my things) and his father made a comment about how flattering my dress was. He whispered it. I said, “Oh, okay, thanks,” and scurried out the door.

I haven’t said anything to anyone because I don’t want to make a big deal of it and, although not an excuse, he was intoxicated. I think I should just see if it happens again and then contemplate saying something. But to whom?


To him, of course. But that’s for later, if and when the father strikes again.

For now, I believe it’s appropriate — arguably necessary — to treat this as an aberration.

That’s because there’s a big range of possible intent. The father could be anything from a harmless nudge-and-winker to an insidious sower of discord, one who doesn’t appreciate you so much as he relishes undermining his son. Or, to put it another way, anything from a man-boy who loves women to a rank misogynist. Responding as if he’s one only to learn he’s the other will introduce more problems, so be patient until you know more.

The moment has passed, obviously, but it would have been ideal if you had said to your fiance that night, “Your father just whispered to me how great I look in my dress. What’s up with that?”

That doesn’t contradict my advice not to make a big deal of it until you’re sure it’s a big deal. Small things are the ones you mention reflexively, and so choosing not to say something is what you do when you are making a big deal out of it.

Whether his father’s a harmless-wink guy or a backstab-his-son guy, your fiance probably knows all too well which he is. Mentioning the whispered pass right away, with the unbiased what’s-up-with-that tone, would have given you both a chance to fill the other in. Instead, now, you wait for signs of a problem, and hope no signs appear.

Dear Carolyn:

I think you have said in the past that not all relationships start with instant fireworks. With that in mind, I recently went on a second date with a guy who is good on paper, but I was not attracted to at all. It was fine, but I spent the last part of the date hoping he wouldn’t try to kiss me (he didn’t, despite being a little bit in my personal space for the entire date).

He has already asked for date No. 3. Should I keep seeing him and see if this turns around, or am I just being a jerk if I keep going out with him with no attraction/interest?

Giving him a chance or leading him on?

I’ve said that if you really enjoy someone’s company, then a physical attraction often follows, even where you felt none initially.

So, if you really enjoy this guy’s company, then date him. If all you like is his resume, then skip date No. 3.

Write to Tell Me About It, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or