Ask Amy: In-law grabs child’s name for email address
Dear Amy: My wife and I have been married for 24 years. We have three daughters; 22, 20 and 14.
My mother-in-law died 16 years ago. My father-in-law has had a live-in partner, “Becky,” for seven years. They live on the other side of the country.
Becky doesn’t have children. She is self-absorbed and mainly relates to people through her own accomplishments and experiences.
She takes very good care of my father-in-law, who we all agree would likely be dead by now without her. They enjoy each other’s company, so we manage our relationship with this in mind.
Becky likes to tell everyone that our kids are her grandkids without making any other efforts to earn the title (no real contact, except through us). We have accepted this.
Recently, Becky created a new email address for herself that uses the name of our youngest daughter, “Mary Beth.” Becky’s email handle is now: marybeth@ [etc].com.
It is embarrassing for everyone, and totally irritates my wife, her sister and others in our family. We would never tell Mary Beth, because we fear she would feel violated and further separate from the only “grandmotherly” figure she has ever known.
Should we ask her to change it? Should we preemptively discuss the email address with our daughter? — Stuck in SoCal
Dear Stuck: “Becky,” marshaling all of the characteristics you mention, has managed to crash through a boundary. No person with a shred of insight into the mind of a 14-year-old girl would dare use the girl’s name as their email handle. I shudder to even think of it.
Tell her, “Hi, this is a little awkward, but we notice that you are using Mary Beth’s name as your email address. We are uncomfortable with this, for privacy reasons, and although we have not discussed this with Mary Beth, we are certain that she would object to it, also. We are all so grateful for the light you bring into Dad’s life; we’re hoping you could change this email handle before it becomes too officially your own.”
Becky might respond, “Mary Beth should be honored! She’s my favorite granddaughter, after all.”
And that’s when you let the chips gently fall.
If you have given Becky a heads-up and she chooses to ignore it, then she will face a consequential change in Mary Beth’s attitude toward her.
Dear Amy: Throughout college, my roommate was my best friend. We were inseparable.
There were many rumors that we were more than friends, and, in fact, we were also sleeping together on and off the entire time.
I fell in love with her early on and although I think she shared these feelings in the beginning, I think she quickly moved on.
After graduation, I finally told her how I really felt about her for the last four years, and while she seemed to take it well in the moment, she hasn’t spoken to me since.
It’s now been over a year without contact. She’s living happily with her girlfriend, but I miss her every day.
Part of me wishes I hadn’t confessed my feelings to her, as we might still have a friendship, and part of me is glad I shared how I felt.
Should I reach out to her? I miss my best friend. — Heartbreak or Move on
Dear Heartbreak: I applaud your honesty and authenticity regarding your feelings. It’s never a mistake to tell the truth, even if the disclosure doesn’t yield the result you want. Experiencing love is crossing an important emotional threshold. Love opens you up for love’s companion: heartbreak.
You seem to have accepted the fact that your roommate has definitely moved on from the affair you two had, but you haven’t moved on, yet.
Contacting her is emotionally risky for you. If you genuinely believe that you could move forward in friendship, you could reach out. However, her response (or lack thereof) might inspire you to finally close the book on the friendship, but this is something you should prepare for.
And yes, by all means — move on. The odds are much better for renewing your friendship down the road if you are both happy in other love relationships.
Dear Amy: I read the letter from “I’m no Loony,” who complained about the label “loony,” as it applies to mentally ill people.
I have mental illness, too. I wear the “loony” label with pride. — I’m OK
Dear OK: Owning this word is a fine choice on your part, but you should not insist that others do the same.