Carolyn Hax: Once-burned boyfriend sees a fire hazard in her guy friends
Advice columnist Carolyn Hax answers questions from a woman whose male friends upset her boyfriend, and from a man whose family ignored his requests after his wife's death.
DEAR CAROLYN: I'm dating someone who recently admitted being uncomfortable with some of my friendships with other men because some have an interest in me romantically and some I had dated previously.
I have always felt that as long as boundaries were in place and I didn't return those feelings anymore, I was being true, but because my current beau was badly burned by a cheating ex and is not as trusting as he once was, this is causing a rift. What can I do to reassure him?
DEAR S: You can choose to be faithful to him, and choose not to insult his intelligence by maintaining friendships that crackle with sexual tension while insisting that you're "just friends" — but you can't "reassure him."
If this were just about exes, then I'd say anyone too traumatized to trust an honest person to be honest has more healing to do before starting a new relationship. The burden of your boyfriend's past is on him. And I'd say that if he's putting the onus on you to the point where it's time to break up, then don't let either of you guilt you into backing down. It's not about punishing a victim; it's about refusing to be punished for the ex's decision to cheat.
However, your story includes men who may well be waiting for their big chance. Remain friends with men who are respectful of your current love, not with circling sharks.
DEAR CAROLYN: My wife of 40 years passed away in April of pancreatic cancer. The local hospice was very involved and was a great help to my daughter and me.
Because my wife did not want a funeral, I informed everyone, and put in the obituary, that I did not want flowers or gifts, but rather a donation to hospice.
Only one of my wife's sisters made a donation — $20. Nothing from any other family members, and none of these people is hurting financially. Are these people cheap or just plain heartless? I would like to approach them but do not know how.
— Mad in Wisconsin
DEAR MAD: I'm very sorry for your loss.
I am also sorry you don't have the source of solace that so many people depend on. Donations to a meaningful charity can help people feel their loved one's suffering wasn't for naught, and I can see why you've pegged your personal feelings to the hospice's receipts.
However, I'm still going to urge you to stop doing that. These well-to-do relatives are entitled to give — and grieve — as they deem appropriate. They may well give generously to other causes. No matter how much you're counting on them to respond, a request for donations is merely a suggestion, not an obligation.
Another reason to let this go: Your anger is misdirected, no? You're really (and understandably) angry at death. It's a devastating opponent. It never hears your objections; it never flinches when you lash out at it; it always has the last word. So, there's no satisfying place to put the anger you feel.
Relatives, on the other hand, who don't want to or just forget to send a few bucks to your wife's caregivers, are satisfying places to send anger.
I wonder, though, what you hope to accomplish by challenging them. Confronting them will let them know you are hurt, yes, but it won't undo your loss or anything that has transpired since.
If what you're after is some show of support, then I suggest instead that you open your mind to other ways that people may have expressed their concern and affection.
Find her columns daily at www.seattletimes.com