Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Tell Me About It: Stop seeking approval for beaux

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Question: After a year-and-a-half relationship that many expected was going to be long-term, we broke up and I was surprised to find that many of our friends were not surprised, claiming that they "supported our relationship" but thought we were too different and they didn't want to say anything while we were in the relationship.

Now, four months later, I'm in a wonderful relationship that has the potential of being very long-term. I understand it's the "honeymoon" phase, but I know when I've found something really good.

Everyone thinks he is an amazing guy, but I don't get any sort of enthusiastic reaction from friends and family, which I believe could be because of my past relationship. Is there anything I could say to these people that would help them understand that I would prefer they would be as happy and supportive as they were for my previous relationship?

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  • Answer: Nope. It's not worth it, nor is it your place. It's possible they think it's too soon after your breakup, it's possible they think it's another mistake, it's possible this is what approval actually looks like (since, remember, the last approval you experienced was fake). None of this matters now.

    What does matter is that you proceed with this relationship at a pace that reflects good judgment and incorporates your experience, recent and otherwise. If you and he progress to the point where friends and family (and you) can reasonably expect to know this guy well and you're still getting a lukewarm reception, then ask one or two particularly trustworthy people what they think.

    Otherwise, please stop scanning the crowd for reactions. Check out how many times you look outside your relationship for opinions of it: "that many expected"; "many of our friends were not surprised"; "Everyone thinks he is an amazing guy"; "I don't get any sort of enthusiastic reaction"; "I would prefer they would be as happy and supportive." And it's not a long letter.

    One could speculate (not I, pshhh) that you're dating to please not yourself, but your audience, which all but assures a mismatch.

    Forget what they think - how do you feel?

    Question: As the first in our immediate group to have a baby, I'm left wondering about proper protocol on when to bring him along. I've tried to just guess and been wrong about people's preferences in every way: We left him home, hosts asked why; we stayed home because we couldn't get a sitter, host wished we had come instead; we brought him only to realize that wasn't the host's intention.

    I often e-mail and ask, but is there a better way to handle it? I'm not trying to impose my baby on anyone else, but if I can bring him, I'd often prefer that.

    Answer: "Should I bring the baby, or call a sitter?" That suggests you're fine with either option, where "OK if I bring the baby?" sounds like a preference and might come across as pressure.

    You might be misunderstood from time to time, or told what people think you want to hear vs. the truth, but if overall you're respectful of hosts'/organizers' wishes, you'll get a straight answer from most.



    Chat with Carolyn Hax online at noon Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.


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