Dear Amy: I have been divorced for a year (my ex-husband cheated on me for years before I found out).
I am currently dating a man, “Bobby,” who lives two hours away. He owns his own business and pays his own bills BUT he still lives with his parents. Bobby is 43. He stated that there was no reason for him to move out (the business he owns is located on their property).
I am having a really hard time with that. I have been on my own since the age of 15, so I do not understand this.
Bobby’s two older sisters are married with children, and all live within a few miles of the family home.
Also, my 16-year-old daughter refuses to acknowledge Bobby. She was the one who caught my ex-husband (her father) cheating — in fact, she caught him multiple times.
I know she needs adjustment time, but it has been a year since the divorce, which she wholeheartedly wanted and pushed for.
I have been dating Bobby for nine months now.
Advice on both issues, please...? — Wondering Woman
Dear Wondering: Let’s start with your daughter. She is the most important person in this extended story.
She discovered her father cheating on her mother. She then endured an (I assume) extended period where her parents were in the process of separation and divorce.
You have now chosen to engage in a relationship with a man who lives two hours away. This relationship is time-consuming and (I assume) you are devoting a lot of energy into trying to make it work.
You have been on your own since the age of 15. Are you expecting the same level of independence from your daughter?
I have news for you — you could bring George Clooney over to the house and she wouldn’t acknowledge him. She wants you right now.
In terms of “Bobby,” here’s what you know: He lives with his folks. He always has and — if you two stay together — he will expect you to, also.
Dear Amy: My wife and I have planned a very special 10-day tour of Europe with our granddaughter.
She lives across the country and despite the distance we are on very good terms. We want to use this trip as additional bonding.
I just learned that a friend of ours, independently and coincidentally, has booked the same tour to take with his wife and granddaughter. While this is nice, my wife and I do not want to spend every waking hour on the tour with them, or have our granddaughter spend every waking hour with their granddaughter, who she does not even know.
How do we tell them that we want separate bonding time?
We are wondering how to say “no.” — Want to Say No.
Dear No: I don’t think you should say “no.” I think you should consider saying, “Yes!”
Your friends likely have a similar bonding goal for their trip, as well as similar anxieties about your family group’s possible encroachment onto their time. Assume that they share your concerns — send clear cues, read their cues, and map out some time for just the three of you.
You could readily share your concerns ahead of time by saying, “I assume that you are all eager to get some special bonding time with just your granddaughter. We want that, too, and want you to know that we’ll respect your family time — and we’re going to try to carve out family time for our little group, too.”
If you feel you are being glommed onto during the trip, here’s how you say “no”: “We’ve already made a solid plan of our own for today. But let’s meet up for tea or drinks later on.”
If these two girls hit it off, it could end up being really fun and memorable for both of them.
Trips to Europe with the grandparents are wonderful, but — who is going to hold the selfie stick while they pose in front of the Eiffel Tower?
I suggest that you remind yourself to be flexible on this nice vacation.
Dear Amy: A recent question from “Survivor” detailed horrific abuse during childhood. This got me wondering how you handle the burden of so many sad stories? — Wondering Reader
Dear Wondering: My own childhood (challenging, but happy) conditioned me toward empathy. My adulthood (challenging, but very happy) has taught me compassion. I feel honored that people who have suffered so much let their stories tumble out. They are far braver than I am.