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Originally published Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 6:15 AM

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Ex’s parents intrude long after breakup

Advice columnist Carolyn Hax on how the inability to say no leaves you especially vulnerable to controlling people.


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"H"? I thought he had Hemorrhoids. Or HPV. Or head lice. MORE

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Dear Carolyn

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

DEAR CAROLYN: “Ex” and I dated on and off for years, which ended years ago. It was not a healthy relationship. I am two years into a much healthier and happier relationship.

The problem is that Ex’s parents want to visit me and insist on coming to my home that I share with my current partner. Ex’s parents were always very kind to me, but I just want to be done with that very sad chapter of my life. As an introvert, I find it very invasive that they would invite themselves to my home, especially since they know I am seriously involved with someone else.

The last time they invited themselves over, a couple of years ago, Ex basically told me I’m a horrible person for not wanting to hang with Ex’s parents, which made me feel guilty enough to meet with them. I don’t want this to continue.

Is there a kind/ethical way to give them the brush? I don’t want to be a jerk.

— Anonymous

DEAR ANONYMOUS: Unhealthy apple, unhealthy tree. Their “insist(ing) on coming to my home” is inappropriate, and that’s your permission not to worry one bit whether you’d “be a jerk” to say no to them.

If you did want to see them, then all you’d need to say is that X is an excellent restaurant/coffee shop and you’ll meet them there Thursday at 7. To pull the plug entirely, merely say that you have always appreciated their kindness, but that reminders of this part of your past are painful for you and you hope they’ll understand why you’re choosing to decline their invitation.

If you just can’t bring yourself to do this, then that’s worth further attention: The inability to say no leaves you especially vulnerable to controlling people.

DEAR CAROLYN: I have the big H. Luckily, I have been asymptomatic and am taking a daily prescription to reduce the chance of spreading it to others. When exactly do I tell a guy that I have it?

I realize not every guy will want to be with someone who has this. I lucked out with my ex, in that I told him after a couple of dates — and after we had fooled around a bit — but before we had sex. Should I do the same thing in the future?

I did debate on not telling until after having sex, since this is such an important part of a relationship to me, but saying, “Oh, by the way, I have herpes,” seems like setting myself up to fail. My friend suggested acting like I just found out about it and haven’t known the entire time. What do you think?

— When to Tell

DEAR WHEN TO TELL: You had it right the first time. You say you “lucked out,” but consider that your ex responded well because you did the right thing. Plus, you apparently chose someone who had the decency not to make you pay for your honesty or for having a health condition that says nothing about you except that you’ve had sex before. That’s some luck, but also judgment.

Waiting until after you’ve had sex, and worse, pretending you just found out? Ask yourself how that’s conscionable — and watch what you entrust to this friend.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com and follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax. Find her columns daily at www.seattletimes.com/living



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