advice

Ask Amy: Single woman has radar for dating jerks



Dear Amy: I’m a 50-year-old woman, and I haven’t had a serious relationship in about a decade.

My first two partners (when I was in my 20s and early 30s) were controlling and emotionally abusive.

I know I overlooked a lot of obvious red flags back then (and made excuses for these people).

So, now, if there’s the slightest sign of jerkiness early on — if he teases me (a “just kidding” insult), corrects me (especially if he’s wrong), is rude to me or others or bad mouths his exes — I usually won’t see the guy again.

I also balk when guys come on too strong in the beginning.

And that means I rarely go past the second or third date.

Am I being too careful?

I’m worried I’ve become too thin-skinned.

– Worried and Alone

Dear Worried: Every characteristic you mention: “Just kidding” insults, corrections, rudeness, badmouthing, coming on too strong – is a justified dealbreaker, at least from where I sit.

You might work on your reaction to being “corrected,” but being mansplained or corrected by someone who is not only wrong but rude about it is another matter.

(You could examine whether you become defensive when others disagree with you.)

But let’s say that you really have become thin-skinned.

So what? This is you. Maybe you’re extra-discerning.

Being too hard on people is not a good thing, but discernment is.

Upon meeting a stranger for a potential relationship, your instincts are all you have.

My main suggestion is that you should work on relaxing. Not relaxing your standards, but just … relaxing.

Many people fumble their first meetings – they might drink too much, misread the room, or simply be nervous. Maybe your guard is up a little high, and his guard isn’t up high enough. That’s why second dates were invented.

Even very discerning people can learn something new by cultivating an attitude of openness, but this doesn’t mean you should overlook a person’s behavior, especially when that behavior is rude or unkind.

Dearly departed Maya Angelou gave the world a finely cut gem of 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 her folks for even longer than that, and we have a really good relationship.

Her parents live nearby.

My father-in-law was a pretty talented “Mr. Fixit” back in the day, but he is almost 80 now and has various physical ailments that really limit his abilities.

My in-law’s back deck is in poor repair and is increasingly unsafe. Because of this, they have stopped using the back steps and deck.

This needs to be repaired pretty urgently and I am happy and very able to do this.

The problem is that my father-in-law simply will not allow anyone else to work on his house. He is still under the impression that he can do this work, himself.

I know that if I take it on, he will insist on doing the work. He will let me “help” him, however.

I am worried about the dynamic and also concerned about the frustration and worry about doing this project with him. I’m concerned about his safety and don’t want him to injure himself.

Because of this, I’m thinking about dodging this assignment.

Should I?

– Builder

Dear Builder: I understand your valid concerns about taking this on.

But I think you should take this on, if only because if your father-in-law attempts to do this himself, it could lead to disaster.

Offer yourself as a helper. Assume that this will be frustrating at times.

Sit down together and come up with a plan. Go together to choose materials from your home improvement store. Ask him, “Will you let me do the heavy lifting and physical stuff? Think of me as your subcontractor.” Confer with him and let him supervise the job.

I can imagine a number of ways where this project could go south, but I can also imagine this as being a bonding project between you two men – and I hope it works out that way for both of you.

Dear Amy: “Messy MS” was horrified when her husband invited his folks in to “declutter” their apartment while she was out of town, including in their bedroom!

You affirmed her embarrassment over this, but you should have advised her to read him the riot act. This is unacceptable.

– Tidy Boundaries

Dear Tidy: I agree with you – this is unacceptable.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)



Amy Dickinson , 2024-02-01 13:04:36

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