Question: I was sexually and mentally attracted to this guy for 12 years. We used to have the best times together, then suddenly he seemed a little standoffish, though I continued to be sexually involved with him.
I find out he got married while we were still sleeping together. He had been married six months before I even found out about it.
I still love him. His wife is extremely bougie, and he is not that type. He is like me - just likes to laugh and enjoy life. He is constantly calling, telling me he misses all the fun we had and the laughs.
I don't know what to do, but I do know I can't sleep with him now, knowing he's married.
Answer: Yeah, that's the big deterrent. His "marriage."
That he's a liar, a taker, a manipulator, a bad boyfriend, an even worse husband, and an overall selfish lout is all just inconvenient.
Or maybe the strong possibility you two deserve each other is what supersedes all of these other excellent reasons not even to crack the door open to this loser again.
Look at your own behavior here: His wife is "bougie"? Are you serious? You're blaming this on her? Dutifully repeating whatever nasty thing he says about his wife, siding with a guy who sleeps with one woman, secretly marries another, and bashes the latter to keep the former on a string, and against the woman who is even more of his victim than you are?
Oh, honey. You're the lapdog-complicit other woman who saves him from his awful wifey shrew-lady. In the Big Book of Stereotypes, you're on Page 1.
I generally try to offer suggestions in some logical order of urgency, but this time, any one of them has such a strong case for the top spot that I'll just dump them out and let you pick: grow up, wise up, clean up. This guy is hell, and you're paving the road there yourself.
Question: My mother died a week ago. While my friends are well-meaning, it seems all of them have unsolicited advice. Every time I mention my grief, someone recommends a support group or tells me I should be on medication.
I get that people sometimes don't know what to say in tough times. But is it too much for me to just be allowed to be sad for a while without having to be "fixed"? What can I do to get people to listen without receiving a list of action items?
Answer: I'm so sorry about your mom.
I'm also sorry your friends' impulses, albeit generous, have given you more work to do.
But your choice now is to either stop leaning on these friends or teach them how to support you.
And because that's a choice between loneliness and effort, I recommend at least giving effort a try, even when you have the fewest resources for it. "Actually, a sympathetic ear is what I appreciate most right now. I'm not asking for ways to fix anything."
And key to any teaching, shine light on the ones who get it: "Thank you for just letting me cry. I know it's hard to know what to do."
Chat with Carolyn Hax online at noon Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.