Dear Amy: I am a 50-year-old woman and I haven’t been in a serious relationship in nearly ten years.
My first two partners (when I was in my 20s and early 30s) were controlling and emotionally abusive.
I know I missed a lot of obvious red flags at the time (and made excuses for those people).
So, if there’s even the slightest sign of shakiness to begin with – if he’s making fun of me (the “joke” insult), correcting me (especially if he’s wrong), being rude to me or others, or being mean to his exes – we’ll usually never see the guy again.
I also object to men being too strong in the beginning.
This means I rarely make it past the second or third date.
Am I being too careful?
I worry that I’m too thin skinned.
– Anxious and Lonely
Dear Worried: Every trait you mentioned: “I’m just kidding,” insults, corrections, rudeness, bad-mouthing, being too harsh—is a legitimate deal-breaker, at least from where I sit.
You can work on your reaction to being “corrected”, but being unfairly explained or corrected by someone who is both wrong and rude about it is another matter.
(You can examine whether you become defensive when others disagree with you.)
But let’s say you’re really thin-skinned.
So what? It’s you. Maybe you’re extra understanding.
Being too harsh on people is not a good thing, but discernment is.
When you meet a stranger for a potential relationship, all you have are your instincts.
My main suggestion is to try to relax. Not relaxing your standards, just…relaxing.
Many people can act awkwardly in their first meeting; They may drink too much, misread the room, or just be nervous. Maybe your guard is a little high and his guard is not high enough. That’s why second dates were invented.
Even very insightful people can learn something new by cultivating an attitude of openness; But that doesn’t mean you should ignore a person’s behavior, especially when that behavior is rude or discourteous.
The beloved, deceased Maya Angelou gave the world some very subtle advice when she said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
Dear Amy: My wife and I have been married for more than 20 years. I’ve known his family longer than that and we have a really good relationship.
His family lives nearby.
My father-in-law was a very talented “Mr.” He was once Fixit, but he is now almost 80 years old and has several physical ailments that really limit his abilities.
My mother-in-law’s back deck is in bad shape and is becoming increasingly unsafe. So they stopped using the back steps and deck.
This needs to be repaired urgently and I am happy and very capable to do it.
The problem is that my father-in-law does not allow anyone else to work in his house. He is still under the impression that he can do the job himself.
I know that if I take on this job, you will insist on doing it. But he will let me “help” him.
I’m worried about the dynamic, and I’m also worried about the frustration and anxiety of doing this project with him. I’m concerned for his safety and I don’t want him to hurt himself.
That’s why I’m thinking of running away from this mission.
Dear Builder: I understand your valid concerns about undertaking this.
But I think you should take this on, because if your father-in-law tries to do this on his own, it could lead to disaster.
Present yourself as a helper. Let’s assume this will be frustrating at times.
Sit down together and make a plan. Go together to choose materials from your home decor store. Ask him: “Will you let me do the heavy lifting and physical work? Think of me as your subcontractor.” Meet with him and let him supervise the work.
I can imagine a few ways this project could go wrong, but I can also imagine this being a bonding project between the two of you, and I hope it turns out that way for both of you.
Dear Amy: “Messy MS” was horrified when her husband invited their family over to “declutter” their house, including their bedroom, while he was out of town!
You confirmed that he was embarrassed by the situation, but you should have advised him to read the riot act. This is unacceptable.
– Regular Borders
Dear Tidy: I agree with you; This is unacceptable.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at email@example.com or write to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or on Facebook.)