Loads of commentary tonight!

Dear Annie: I have been with my partner for 10 years. While he was going through his divorce, his mother lived with us. At the time, she had nothing nice to say about his ex-wife. She acted like seeing her was a chore when one of the children graduated high school (I was not allowed to attend the graduation).

Since then, the children he shares with his ex have grown up and they are on their own. The older child now has children of her own. My issue is that his mother stays with the ex when she comes into town and still sends her presents.

Now, if my partner had been mean to the ex, or if the kids were still young and at home, I could understand. But that isn’t the case. The ex also hosts parties for the grandchildren, and we are never allowed to attend them.

Can you please help me understand why his mother still has this friendship with the ex? Again, during the divorce, she had nothing nice to say about the ex at all. She told me how abusive she was to him. — Fed Up (c) Annie Lane @ Creators.com

Oh my. Annie Lane might’ve bitten off more than she can chew with this one. I shudder to see her answer. Okay, come on, Annie Lane, you can do it!!

Dear Fed Up: It sounds like your partner’s mother felt defensive of her son during his divorce and likely hurt and disappointed herself. Still, no matter how much water is under the bridge, your partner’s ex is and will always be the mother of her grandchildren.

The relationship the two of them choose to have doesn’t concern you. Instead, work to foster the bond you have with your partner’s mother (and with his children and their children). After a decade together, that should take priority — not scrutinizing what friendship his mother may or may not have with the old flame. Don’t see their closeness as competition: You’ll only end up losing.

Yeah, that’s pretty lame. [Shaking my head.] How about calling this person out for being a homewrecker?!

I have been with my partner for 10 years. While he was going through his divorce, his mother lived with us. [Emphasis added.]

So this letter writer was already living with him during his divorce?! Not only did they commit adultery, but they were already living together before the divorce papers were dry. And with his mother!

She acted like seeing her was a chore when one of the children graduated high school (I was not allowed to attend the graduation).

Right! No adulterers allowed! And she’s not even apologetic about it. Instead, she (I’m assuming her gender here for purposes of simplicity) wants to win the prize with her significant other’s mother. Like, Hey, quit liking his ex and like me instead! His ex is the real bad guy here!  

I knew Annie Lane would go obnoxiously easy on this letter writer. I just hoped I was wrong. Oh well.

Dear Annie: For close to 50 years, my friend “Chloe” and I have met for dinner once a week, and she always discusses her husband’s past affair, which occurred over 50 years ago and lasted a year. They are still married and had a few children after the affair ended. She seems to refuse to believe he has told her “everything” and still asks him questions about it.

I empathize with her pain and repeatedly tell her that forgiveness is about her being happy again within herself and that it does not mean she condones her husband’s past behavior. She has been very mean to him all these years and says hateful things to him, which distresses their daughters.

They have been to couples therapy a few times, but nothing has changed with her. I am at a loss to figure out why she keeps this up after all these years. I need some understanding of why she repeatedly expresses hate for her husband but continues to live with him. Does she need to be a victim? — Concerned and Confused

Dear CC: You are a good friend with wise advice, and Chloe is lucky to have you on the receiving end of her weekly pity parties.

It sounds like Chloe is using a “victim mentality” to avoid dealing with deeper relationship problems. If she forgives her husband’s infidelity, she’ll have to assume some responsibility for the failures in her marriage. It’s far easier to just lay the blame on him.

Still, it is clear she has some unresolved feelings of rejection. Fifty years is a long time to be carrying around so much anger, and she must be tired. Chloe has two options here: leave her husband, or forgive him.

If she chooses to forgive, remind her once more that forgiveness is not a stamp of approval for his actions; it is merely an acknowledgement that their marriage and their family are more important than a mistake he made 50 years ago.

Unresolved feelings of rejection?! Oh, Annie Lane! Please! She’s been milking it for half a century–longer than I’ve been alive–for the same reason that dogs lick themselves (according to Blanche Devereaux): because they can!

They are still married and had a few children after the affair ended. She seems to refuse to believe he has told her “everything” and still asks him questions about it.

This could just be me, but I’d ask questions first and have kids later. [Groan.]

It sounds like Chloe is using a “victim mentality” to avoid dealing with deeper relationship problems. If she forgives her husband’s infidelity, she’ll have to assume some responsibility for the failures in her marriage. It’s far easier to just lay the blame on him.

Oh, Annie Lane! That’s not it! It’s been fifty years! Don’t make excuses for Chloe! There’s really no excuse or justification for her to spend fifty years making him pay for his mistakes! To say nothing of how the letter writer has to hear about it every single time they get together. Geez. Talk about your conversation killers. That’s fifty years’ worth of talking about one topic! Someone needs to segue the conversation elsewhere!

You are a good friend with wise advice, and Chloe is lucky to have you on the receiving end of her weekly pity parties.

Oh, Annie Lane! Chloe isn’t lucky to have the letter writer! Chloe’s an energetic vampire who’s been feeding on the letter writer and possibly other victims as well. I mean, there’s self-absorption, and then there’s self-absorption, you hear me? I talk about my relationship problems too, usually with the goal of resolving them or moving past them. But to spend fifty years rehashing an affair and also talking about it ad nauseam to the letter writer is a wee bit over the top.

I have no clue why the letter writer is still in this friendship, but here’s what I’d do:

Chloe: “My husband still hasn’t come clean about that affair back in the 1950s.” 

Me: “What are you going to do about it?” 

Chloe: “Well, I just expect him to…” 

Me: “No, not him. You. What are YOU going to do about it?” 

Chloe: “But I shouldn’t have to be the one to…” 

Me: “Answer the question. What are you going to do about it?” 

Chloe: “Well… nothing, I guess.” 

Me: “Good.” 

And then I’d change the subject. My guess is that Chloe would start crying crocodile tears, so I’d say, “Eat your soup,” and gesture to her soup, “before it gets cold.” And if she went back to the topic of conversation, I’d repeat my above performance, for which I’d win an Oscar.

My mentor told me that supporting people doesn’t always mean telling them what they want to hear. That’s very wise, I think. It ought to go on a fortune cookie. Or it could be stitched onto a sampler.

Chloe has two options here: leave her husband, or forgive him. If she chooses to forgive…

First of all, Chloe didn’t ask for advice–her friend did. Second of all, if the letter writer tells Chloe, “You have two options: forgive him or leave him,” Chloe’s not going to do either.

Annie Lane, Annie Lane, Annie Lane!

Let’s see what Ask Amy is up to.

Dear Amy: I am a recent college grad, home (for now) looking for full-time work. I’m looking to move somewhere new, make new friends, and live my young adult life to its fullest.

While home and job hunting, I have spent the summer reconnecting with an old friend/flame, “Toby.” Toby and I have been talking casually on and off for a little over a year.

When we didn’t see eye to eye in what we were looking for in a romantic partner, we decided to remain friends instead, something I am proud of.

Toby is leaving the U.S. to attend grad school overseas and I am sad to see him go. While there is still some chemistry between us, I also hate to see someone I care about move so far away.

Leading up to his departure, we’ve been getting together for fun, casual activities.

Recently, I was invited over to his house, where we sat and talked all night about our friendship, relationship, and individual goals for the future.

In a moment of silence seemingly out of a movie, we locked eyes, and Toby very calmly said, “I love you.”

I was at a loss for words like I’ve never been before. This was not my goal for the evening, and he says it wasn’t his either; he felt it in the moment and decided he should let me know.

I am flattered, but feeling a lot of things: adored, caught off guard, and somewhat betrayed by our pact at friendship.

Any advice for this sticky situation?

– Really Confused!

Dear Confused!: “Toby” is leaving the country for the next many months. If there were ever a moment to express your sincere love for someone – this would be it!

And – referring to your cinematic moment: Isn’t this how Harry finally really “met” Sally – by confessing a love for her that went beyond their friendship?

Is Toby expressing romantic love, friendship love, kinship love? It might be all three. Maybe it’s the somewhat grasping utterance of a guy whose ship is about to sail.

Or maybe it’s the moment-of-truth statement from a person who is seeing his own life with some clarity – and wants to be honest with you, before you both start new phases of your lives.

You have the next few months to communicate with Toby about this. He has been honest, and you should be, too. (c) Ask Amy

That’s mystifying.

When we didn’t see eye to eye in what we were looking for in a romantic partner, we decided to remain friends instead, something I am proud of.

Okay. Who wasn’t attracted to whom? Can we be a bit more clear on that point? Actually, this letter writer seems so wishy-washy that she might be telling the truth about them not seeing eye-to-eye. Maybe they’re both attracted to each other, but she doesn’t like his tendency to hold open doors for his date. [Eyeroll.]

I am flattered, but feeling a lot of things: adored, caught off guard, and somewhat betrayed by our pact at friendship.

Flattered! Yuck. If I had a dollar for every man who’s been flattered by my affections, I’d be rich. It really reads like she’s not attracted to him. As soon as someone says, “I’m flattered, but…” then you know you’ve just struck out. Kiss of death. Die, flattery, die!

Leading up to his departure, we’ve been getting together for fun, casual activities. […] This was not my goal for the evening, and he says it wasn’t his either.

Okay. Maybe I can inject some sense into this. Romance is supposed to be impulsive, isn’t it? I don’t know this from experience, but I’ve been told that you can’t schedule romance. Like life, it has a way of happening.

Toby: “I love you.” 

Letter writer: “Toby! This was not my goal for the evening. What’s wrong with you? Who do you think you are? What are you doing? This ruins everything!” 

3263454-impliedfacepalm

I mean, of course it’s fine if she’s not into him and wants to convey that. But it sounds slightly more credible that she’s a flake. She made all these references to keeping things casual, as though she’s not the sort to get too deep; and when they were discussing life and all their experiences, she was discomfited.

We sat and talked all night about our friendship, relationship, and individual goals for the future.

I love such talks! But the letter writer clearly doesn’t. She needs to let Toby down gently, and if she avoids him after his profession of love, that alone might do the trick.

Geez! Why can’t the rest of us find Tobys?

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