Hax: Don't punish for the crimes of relatives

The Washington PostNovember 26, 2013 

Adapted from a recent online discussion and continued from Monday.

Dear Carolyn: As someone with similar Googlable "skeletons" in my family closet, I would really encourage Monday's letter-writer to think about exactly why it scares her (that her date's father apparently killed his mother). The possibility of having to meet the father? What other people will say? What she would tell their eventual kids? A little voice telling her this explains something she hadn't fully realized was bugging her about this guy?

If it's anything other than the last, I encourage her to give this guy a chance. And if she can't let it go, then she should admit that maybe she's not the gal he needs. No one needs to feel like they are being punished for the crimes of their relatives.

ANON

Thank you. The letter-writer followed up with this: "I've noticed as I get older that I do things so similarly to my mother, as much as that drives me crazy!! For this guy, his primary relationship model went horribly, horribly wrong. I guess I am struggling with the fact that even though I want to be different from my mother, I am not. So even if he wants to be different from his father, how possible is it?"

My advice, again, is to defer to "The Gift of Fear." People can be different; the important thing here is spotting whether this man is.

Meanwhile, some strong feelings on search-engine screening:

I moderate an online forum where I use my real name. I suspended a line-crossing poster, who then created a false and inflammatory "news item" that would show up whenever anyone Googled me. Not everything you read is an honest reflection of who people are.

ANONYMOUS

Wow, it's that accepted to Google someone? If a guy I was dating told me he did it, I'd think he was a crazy, paranoid creep. If I were this guy, I'd feel like my privacy had been massively invaded and I'd never call her again.

ANONYMOUS 2

Email tellme@washpost.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

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