Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: I’m getting married in D.C. in four months, and my brother will not commit to whether he’s coming or not. Extenuating circumstances are that he lives in Hawaii, his wife had a baby this month, and they have a rocky relationship with the rest of the family.
I emailed last month expressing my sadness at the prospect of him missing the wedding, offering to pay their airfare, and acknowledging that he is in a challenging and intense place in his own life. I have heard nothing, though we have texted and shared photos of my new nephew.
I am at a loss. I am very excited for him that he’s a new dad, but incredibly angry at him as well. When is it appropriate to broach the topic with him again?
He has a newborn! I think it’s promising and generous that he hasn’t said no outright.
I know people fly with small children all the time, and babies can be easier because they don’t walk yet, but damn it’s hard to keep a baby comfortable on any flight, much less a long one, particularly among fellow passengers horrified to discover their 10- to 13-hour flight might come with a soundtrack of screaming baby. Yeeikes.
Apparently you haven’t even considered how daunting a full day’s travel must seem to them right now, and that’s actually another check in the “hell no” column. You have to know what you’re asking of people to have any business asking it, much less to get “incredibly angry” that the answer might not be yes.
Especially given that any pull they feel to be with his family is weak for other reasons.
I’ve written myself to the point where now my advice is for you to contact your brother, apologize for pressuring him and say that you’d love to have him at your wedding — but if it’s too much to ask right now, you’ll understand.
Dear Carolyn: I recently got an email from a man I dated when I was 19. He was older and ready to settle down. I was trying to fit in, but didn’t know at the time that I was gay. We dated, he asked me to marry him. I knew it wasn’t a good fit although I didn’t know why. So I turned him down and didn’t cross paths with him again.
Now, 40 years later, he found me and emailed me that he is going to be in my city and wants to catch up. If I agree, there is no way I can avoid mentioning my orientation. I have been an activist for years. I also feel I owe him an apology for leading him on, although I had not the slightest conscious understanding at the time. And I don’t really want anything from him anyway, so it seems pointless to say yes. But it also seems rude to say no. Input?
I think you’re overthinking. You don’t owe him an apology. You don’t need your orientation to be some big reveal. You don’t need to want anything from him to see him. You also don’t need to see him if you don’t want to.
You’re just you. Say yes to catching up, or no thank you.
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