Dear Abby: I am in my late 20s and have been with my boyfriend for more than two years. We are serious, having lived together for a year, and we discuss marriage often. We make all our major decisions and purchases together and are generally very happy.
The problem arises when his children from a previous relationship are around (he shares custody with his ex). I am overwhelmed by them. They are very needy and have some minor manner problems. I am uncomfortable with all the attention they demand of me. They are literally always in my space, trying to sit on my lap or show me something, etc. It gets to the point where I just want to get away. Sometimes they’re OK and we have some fun, but it’s the downtime at home that is annoying.
I am ashamed writing this, but I need some advice because the kids are obviously not going away. Will they grow out of this? It’s making me question if I can remain in the relationship.
Dear Bothered: You need an attitude adjustment. I don’t think you realize what a compliment it is that the children compete for your attention and want to be close to you. A way to deal with this could be to arrange to have one-on-one time with EACH child while your boyfriend spends time with the others. It is very important that they spend quality time with their father.
If you and he agree that their manners need tweaking, it shouldn’t be too difficult to set a good example, and praise and reward them as they improve. When they grow older, they will develop interests of their own and be less needy. But for now, it is important you work on being patient, show the children you care about them — and let your boyfriend know when you need a timeout. Everyone does.
Dear Abby: My 26-year-old son has been going with a 23-year-old woman off and on for a year and a half. He has tried to break off the relationship several times. Last weekend she played the “I’ll kill myself” card when he told her he wanted to move on.
I take any threat of suicide seriously. However, she is holding this over his head. I need the right words to use to talk to him about her threat.
Dear Feeling Lost: The woman is trying to manipulate your son using emotional blackmail. He should not attempt to “rescue” her by continuing to see her. During their next conversation, he should let her know the personal responsibility for her well-being is hers and hers alone, and he wants no part of it. If he feels she is truly a danger to herself, he should notify her family so they can help her get the psychological help she needs.
Dear Abby: Can you please tell me what women are looking for? I keep being told that they feel so “safe” with me, it’s like dating their brother. They know I won’t force them into doing anything they don’t want to do.
In New Mexico
Dear Puzzled: It looks like the women you’re asking out may have been dating men who forced them into doing things they didn’t want, or may be trying to tell you politely that their interest in you is only platonic.
It’s time to ask some married friends what is causing women to react to you this way. Having been through the dating scene, they should be able to give you some helpful input.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.