Dear Amy: I have been dating a man for over two years.
He is good with my kids and I appreciate that, given that they aren’t his children.
I am not divorced, and occasionally meet up (if you know what I mean) with my not-quite ex-husband, “Dan.”
It doesn’t happen often, but 20 years of emotions between us emerge and I just don’t know how to say no, I suppose.
Dan is also dating someone else and they have a 1-year-old together.
It would be devastating to all parties if our involvement were discovered.
What would your best advice be so that I can move forward?
(My ex won’t pay for divorce and I can’t afford it.)
– Confused in OR
Dear Confused: It’s truly inspiring how you and your not-quite-ex manage to put yourselves first, in every single aspect of your romantic and parenting lives.
Imagine, if you are able, how this scenario would play out if your teenage children exhibited your poor judgment and deliberately hurtful choices.
You: “Son, why are you fathering a child while you are still in high school?”
Son: “Um, I just don’t know how to say no, I suppose.”
You: “Daughter, why are you sneaking around and lying to us?”
Daughter: “I wasn’t really doing anything wrong (if you know what I mean). And besides, I didn’t want to devastate you with the truth.”
So, my best advice for you would be to: Knock it off. Stop.
The way you describe your own situation reveals much room for improvement when it comes to relationships (normally, people sugar-coat their own narrative).
Perhaps you and “Dan” are drawn to one another because you share this vacuum-space where your mutual impulses are like a narcissistic black hole, swallowing up all the other people in your lives.
Stop sleeping with your ex. Get a divorce (yes, you can afford it).
Do not entangle your children into an emotional relationship with another partner of yours until you choose to live completely honestly. Even if you have a high tolerance for nonsense, your kids deserve some stability.
Dear Amy: We all come from different backgrounds, I’m aware of that.
My siblings and I were raised to thank people for gifts verbally or with a note, sometimes both. My children were taught the same growing up.
My oldest son and his wife have several children.
They were never taught that. My daughter-in-law’s family of origin have always acted entitled.
I struggle with the fact that there is never a thank you unless we are together when they receive a gift.
I love them and want to give to them for special occasions.
Sending money in cards or gifts through the mail, it’s always the same.
The only way that I know that it arrives, is by the tracking number.
There have been a few times I’d call just to find out if something arrived.
Three of these grandchildren are now adults. I am on a limited budget. How should I best handle this?
– Upset Grandmother
Dear Upset: These adults are your son’s children. Evidently your son didn’t get the family memo about how important it is to appropriately express gratitude for a gift. You obviously lay the blame for this rudeness on your daughter-in-law, but you should share your frustration with your son. He’s their parent, too.
Otherwise, if you are truly tired of the frustration and that awful empty feeling when your generosity goes unnoticed, you should stop!
Keep in touch with your grandchildren but find another source for your generosity.
Dear Amy: This is not a request for help, but an acknowledgment of your up-to-the-moment facility with current jargon.
I frequently look up words or idioms you use in your column. Latest: “Imma.”
I am an author who takes some pride in being au courant with language and popular culture and still find that others (you) seem a step ahead!
Tricks? Young person or other source you use for inspiration?
Copious reading helps, of course, and I do that.
Thanks for doing what you do.
– April, in Anchor Bay, California
Dear April: Thank you for the supportive comments regarding my work.
Many readers, I’m sure, would disagree about my occasional use of idioms and slang. (I thank my indulgent editors.)
I have five young-adult children and am active on social media. All are influences.
My work on NPR’s comedy quiz show “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me” also inspires me to stay current.
Most importantly, I live in the world, love language, and am paying attention.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at email@example.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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