Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: Do you attach any particular significance when half of a longtime couple frequently refers to himself in the singular in situations when he shouldn’t? For instance, if a friend asks what my boyfriend did over the weekend, even if I’m standing right next to him he is likely to say something like, “I went to see friends out of town” when the answer is really “Susie and I left town to visit Susie’s friends from college” (which in addition to being more accurate would also help me join the conversation). He does that pretty much every time and only occasionally mentions my involvement as an afterthought. It reminds me a bit of how in my single days, guys flirting with me would sometimes clumsily omit the existence of their wives or girlfriends from our conversations.
My boyfriend and I have talked about it exactly once (in the above example, I told him his omission was really strange and almost made the sentence outright misleading), and he really doesn’t get what annoys me about this or why I even notice it. I’m thinking he feels like he’s losing himself to become part of a couple, and is resisting that.
I get that it’s obnoxious when a person speaks in plural first-person when it’s unnecessary, but I really don’t think what I’m talking about here falls into that category. I worry that I should be more worried that this quirk hasn’t changed at all in our 3.5 years of dating. Any thoughts?
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You’ve had 3.5 years to see whether he means business in sharing his life with you. Does he, or doesn’t he? That’s your answer.
Dear Carolyn: My fiance and I hosted a small gathering of family a few months ago to announce our engagement. We thought it would be a good opportunity for both families to meet. Everyone got along well, thankfully.
The problem is that my soon-to-be mother-in-law has since been pestering my mom to get together. My mom is a homebody and an introvert and mostly enjoys quiet evenings at home. She has agreed to one lunch date, and the three of us went shopping together a few weeks ago. My mom says she likes my fiance’s mom well enough, but she’s really not looking for a constant companion and the daily haranguing — a call, text, email at least once a day, usually more — is starting to wear on her.
My fiance’s mom called me a few nights ago because she wants to invite my mom for a weekend but wanted to find out from me what sort of activities my mom would enjoy. I’ve tried to explain that my mom is not particularly social, and I understand that my future mother-in-law is just really lonely. But I hate being caught in the middle. How can I handle this without hurting anyone’s feelings?
Next time your fiance’s mother gives you the chance to be blunt, be blunt: “Here’s the key to my mom: Get in touch with her no more than once a month. Seriously. She is a hard-core homebody and is never going to change. I had to learn the hard way, so please let me spare you that process.”
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