October 17, 2008 in Features

‘Too nice’ fiance embarrassing

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar
 

Dear Carolyn: I have been engaged for six months to a sweet, adoring, incredibly generous guy. We have not set a wedding date yet but will probably pick something soon, since this will be a second marriage for both of us.

My problem is that my fiance is overly nice! He is also overly sociable. This man strikes up conversations with anyone and everyone wherever we go! At first it didn’t bother me but lately I get embarrassed and angry. I find his behavior odd and frankly quite irritating! I’ve tried to nicely tell him he is “too nice” to people and he just says it’s the way he was brought up. I want to resolve this before I commit to marriage. Please don’t recommend counseling as he doesn’t see anything wrong with his behavior. – K.

I find your use of exclamation points quite irritating, but I imagine when you just read that, you got angry or defensive. As you should have: Since I’m not your English teacher, it’s not my place to tell you how to write.

So the problem isn’t that he sees nothing wrong with his behavior. It’s that neither of you sees anything wrong with your behavior – in viewing your own opinion of proper socializing as the universal standard, and in believing it’s your place to tinker with your fiance’s personality traits to make them more to your liking.

In these six months, you’ve gotten a closer look at your fiance. Will it all be giggles and fairy dust? Of course not. But if knowing him better means liking him less, not more, then please note: A downward trajectory is not one you want to follow into a marriage. He’s either the life of your party, or he’s your second ex-husband-to-be.

Dear Carolyn: Recently, something kind of embarrassing happened to me, and one of the witnesses told my historically loose-lipped friend, “Lily.” She was very upset that I hadn’t planned on telling her. She said she wouldn’t tell anyone.

Less than a week later: Lily has told people, yet continues asking why I won’t spill my secrets to her. How should I respond? “You’re my friend, but you just can’t keep your mouth shut”? – Anonymous

Yes. Exactly. If you’ve dodged the truth to protect Lily’s feelings, then that strategy is moot: Your excluding her has already hurt her feelings. And yet you’re no closer to solving the problem.

If Lily’s going to feel wounded regardless, then it might as well be in service of the greater good. Say what you have to say. Lily’s leaks are costing her, so give her a chance to fix them.

If your friends had more productive things to do than swap shame stories, that might help the cause, too.

E-mail Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, or chat with her online at 9 a.m. Pacific time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email