Dear Amy: I am writing about my sister. She entered into a relationship with her new-ish stepdad’s nephew, whom she met at our mother’s wedding. About a year after the wedding they decided to pursue a relationship. She initially asked me my thoughts and I let her know I thought she could do better, as this guy lived several states away at the time, smokes, drinks heavily, and didn’t have a job, among other reasons.
He eventually moved to be with her, got a job and tried to quit smoking (points). But his job is low paying, and I fear she finances his life, and he can’t quit smoking. I have small children and I don’t like him being around them because of the smell. They also have their guard up because of the weirdness of the relationship (being related through marriage), and get defensive about it. She also tries to slide him into family situations as if he belongs. They play the “family card” when it benefits them.
He is from a different part of the country, and they almost force us to accept him as one of the family. But to me he is still a stranger with some significant flaws. He will assume he can do things, such as borrow my things without asking, or enter my house with the spare key my sister has. I cannot see my sister without him being around.
I think that a boyfriend coming into the family should try to make an impression by being polite and let everyone warm up to him. However, he has been quite the opposite. My sister is SUPER sensitive. No one likes this guy and I believe everyone thinks she is crazy. Should I do anything, or just try to be as amicable as possible?
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Dear Concerned: This man is your sister’s partner. You have already been generous with your low opinion of him, and now you need to accept him. Your sister may not be living her life in the way you want, but -- it is her life. I am not surprised that she is so sensitive, because you seem to be dissatisfied with this man’s efforts and always on the lookout for (and keeping score of) his flaws. You seem determined never to warm up to him.
You should get your house key back, because the one thing you can – and should – do is to control who comes into your home when you’re not there.
Dear Amy: What advice can you give to a cute redhead who is 56 and divorced after a 20-year marriage?
I’m two years out from my divorce. I’m going to massage school to change careers and I am an avid hiker. I also ride motorcycles. But so far, there isn’t anyone who is interested in me, so I just keep staying active.
Everyone says, “It will just happen, be patient.” But I’m lonely.
Any ideas for me?
Dear Searching: Loneliness for a partner will be mitigated somewhat by companionship with friends and like-minded people. One great way to engage in an active life and meet others is to use local “meetup” groups of people who engage in activities you enjoy. Check out meetup.com, and you will see groups that meet for hiking, biking, and (certainly) motorcycle riding. Enlarging your social circle of women and men will ease your loneliness while you continue to make this important and challenging transition.
Online matching is also a great way to find single people who are also interested in dating. This might not result in you making an immediate love connection, but it is a great way to polish your dating skills. My perennial tip is not to spend too much time communicating online, but to agree to meet in person – for coffee or a walk in the park. And yes – be patient. When you “build it” (your life, that is), it will happen.
Dear Amy: Thank you for advocating for young children to eat healthier (responding to “Worried Grandma”).
In my experience with my own children, I found that, once they had been introduced to unhealthy foods such as fast food and sweets, they quite naturally craved these foods.
I decided to allow my kids a “treat” on the weekends. They got to choose one treat to eat. This helped to control their consumption.
Dear Mom: Great technique. However, unhealthy foods shouldn’t necessarily be considered “treats,” but as things that just aren’t good for you. But that’s another battle for another day.
Email Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org.