Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: There is a man in my life whom I have developed strong feelings for. I expressed these feelings last week. He expressed the same feelings back but said that his life was too complicated for us to be anything more than friends.
His situation is that his ex-girlfriend informed him she was pregnant after they broke up. They got back together for the sake of the child and have had a rocky relationship ever since. The child is now 2.
I want to have a conversation with him where I say, out loud, that he would still be a good man, person and father even if he wasn’t with the mother of his child, because I think that is where he is hung up.
Am I the wrong person to be saying this since I have expressed personal feelings of my own? I do care about him and want him to be happy no matter what he chooses.
To say or not to say?
Yes, you are the wrong person to be saying this, because you have an ulterior motive in polishing up the moral implications of his leaving the mother of his child.
In fact, you need to remove yourself from this man’s life completely, or at least as much as your living/family/work situation allows. To remain on the scene with your professed interest in him while he tries to make a rocky relationship work is fundamentally predatory.
He has to do what he has to do, and let his relationship succeed or fail on its own merits. If it falls apart and if you’re right for him, then he'll know where to find you. Trusting this and leaving him alone are the two steps that would prove his happiness is your primary goal.
Dear Carolyn: My elderly father is probably going to die soon. He had a massive stroke two years ago and his life since has been a misery for him and my family, so it will be a mixture of grief and relief.
How do I tell my friends and co-workers that I would prefer they not attend the funeral? They would go only out of respect for me (none of my local friends has ever met him), but I would rather sit in an empty room than have to acknowledge the condolences of a bunch of well-meaning people. I’ve spent two years taking the emotional weight for my father’s illness and the idea of having to smile and thank people and murmur about it being for the best makes me want to scream. I have happily attended weddings and respectfully attended funerals. I just don’t want to be the one at the front of the room.
I’m sorry for the hell you and your family have been through.
Yes, you can make your wishes clear that you don’t want anyone to come to the funeral. Best practice is to notify one person in your workplace and one person among your friends to serve as your spokesperson: “The services are private.”
You can approach this person now or when the time comes, whatever feels appropriate, though saying it now might help cross this particular worry off your list.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.