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Originally published Saturday, April 26, 2014 at 6:15 AM

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Sister-in-law is flirting with disaster

Advice columnist Carolyn Hax on how to nip an unwanted conversation in the bud.


Syndicated columnist

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Dear Carolyn

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

DEAR CAROLYN: How do I deal with my sister-in-law wanting to talk to me constantly about a relationship I think is a 10,000 percent bad idea?

She met a guy on a one-night stand in another country and is flying to meet him. From what I can tell he’s not much of a catch, but she’s built up a lot of excitement around this.

I have a lot of concerns for her, so part of this is based in fear. The other part is sheer annoyance, since I’ve seen this pattern with her and “unavailable” men and know how the story goes.

I’ve made my concerns clear, listened to her rebuttal, and resolved to say nothing else since it’s her life. However, she keeps gushing about all of it. Can I ask her to stop confiding in me? I just don’t have any positive feelings for the situation and I’m tired of having to respond to her. How do I get the point across that I won’t say anything bad anymore, but I don’t want to have to say anything good, either?

— Unsupportive

DEAR UNSUPPORTIVE: “Since I’ve made my serious concerns about this relationship clear, your gushing to me about it puts me in an awkward position. How can we fix this?”

Good luck. It sounds as if she has significant emotional problems and either no awareness of them or no interest in doing the work to deal with them. That puts all the people who love her in a tough spot, the major feature of which is hoping the fates spare her any severe consequences, since you can’t make her get help or call off the international blind date.

RE: UNSUPPORTIVE: There’s nothing wrong with dating someone after meeting them through a one-night stand. Lots of people do that. Plenty see things fizzle, but plenty have ended up hitched. Who the heck knows what’s next.

There’s also nothing wrong with flying somewhere to go on a date with someone you like. So long as you’ve got the financial means and you’re taking safety precautions (e.g. staying in public if it’s really still a stranger). Again, it could fizzle, they could get hitched, anything in between. So hopefully there’s more basis for concern than just those facts!

— Anonymous

DEAR ANONYMOUS: This: “I’ve seen this pattern with her and ‘unavailable’ men and know how the story goes.”

That says someone already vulnerable is putting herself, with each of your “nothing wrong with” steps, in a more and more precarious position: Alone, unfamiliar place, no backup, next to zero knowledge of the man she’s meeting and zero knowledge of, or possibly even access to, his bona fides: She doesn’t know his friends, his colleagues, his workplace, his reputation, his family, how he treats waiters/children/pets.

And she’s romanticizing him and the meeting, so her guard isn’t just down, it’s disabled.

As I said, the fates could go easy on her and he could be both a lovely man and a good fit for her. But, it’s really hard to watch someone refuse even to consider using good judgment.

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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