Dear Carolyn: I am in a fairly new relationship (three months) with an attorney who divorced after 25 years of marriage. He loves to travel and told me that since he has a lot of airline miles, he books coach and always gets an upgrade to first class.
So when he and his wife, and then one girlfriend before he met me, traveled together, she sat in coach and he took the upgrade and sat in first class. At first I thought he was kidding.
I really don’t like the thought of that type of arrangement, as I find the message rather insulting. I think he should either sit in coach with me or pay extra for me to sit with him in first class. He has money and I don’t. And I also don’t know what to say to make him see that this is demeaning. Any suggestions? – Anonymous
“Thank you for giving me, upfront, this unobstructed view of your character.
“Now please lose my number.”
Either that, or you forfeit your right to be surprised when his self-centeredness affects you in more significant ways and after you’re much more emotionally invested. His wife sat alone in coach: His epitaph writes itself.
Dear Carolyn: I need advice on how to ask/tell a friend to not wear cologne when we go out to eat. It really changes how the food tastes for me and it’s all I smell.
I know I can decide not to eat a meal out with her, but I would rather have her company than not.
Is there any nice or straightforward way to ask her that would be lighthearted enough that she wouldn’t feel bad? Or do I just suck it up? – Make It Stop
First, it’s not ask/tell. It’s ask.
Second, lightheartedness can be a relationship-saver, but studied lightness is gas on an awkwardness fire. The way to defeat awkwardness is to be awkward out loud. “This is awkward, but: I’m really sensitive to fragrances. Would you be willing not to wear them when we go out to dinner?
“I’m happy to explain … or never mention it again, whichever gets us out of this moment the fastest.”
Third, you can’t know what she’d want. But if you were the one polluting someone’s dinner, you’d want to know, right? Hold on to that.
Fourth, tell us how it goes. I believe these exchanges are rarely as bad as we fear, but I also believe data trump beliefs.
Dear Carolyn: What’s your best recommendation about living with someone who stays in denial when discussing something? The problem gets stated and the answer given is usually a distraction, so the topic goes off the rails. When mentioned again, there’s a joke. Mentioned again and the answer is, “I’ll have to think about that.” And there’s never any initiative to bring the topic back up. – Denial
Where you can, solve problems unilaterally.
Where you can’t act alone, stand there and insist on an answer until you get one: “I gave you time to think about it. Now I need a straight answer.”
When you still don’t get adult responses: Recognize you are living with someone too emotionally stunted to function in a relationship. That means you change either your expectations, or your living arrangements.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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