My 30-year-old daughter is in a polyamorous relationship with a married man. She brought him home for the holidays, and while he was charming, I felt uncomfortable. (This may have been triggered by my husband’s infidelity that led to our divorce.) Now, my daughter tells me she would like to bring this man on our family trip to Greece this year. It may be petty, but I don’t want to foot the bill for another woman’s husband. And I don’t see any way this relationship can lead to my daughter’s happiness. Should I lay out my boundaries and risk my daughter not joining me on vacation?
I may be off-base, but I don’t think the real issue here is the cost of a trip to Greece or your ex-husband’s infidelity. This is about respecting your adult daughter’s choices. You have substituted your idea of happiness for hers. This is a common (and often well-intentioned) trap for many parents. It’s not productive, though.
Let’s put aside the trip to Greece and the specter of your cheating ex. Unlike him, people in polyamorous arrangements usually set ground rules with their partners for opening their relationship to others. (No one is cheating!) Try to understand, as best you can, what your daughter likes about this arrangement and how it satisfies her.
As a show of respect, read up on polyamory before you broach the subject with her. Then ask questions. I am not suggesting that you set aside all of your concerns — only that you try to respect your adult daughter’s decisions. In a more open-minded context, you may find that the trip to Greece resolves itself.
Because I’m What?
While out to brunch with a friend, I noticed that other tables had gotten bread baskets before their food was served, but we hadn’t. My friend said I only noticed this because I’m Jewish. I told her that her statement was hurtful and rude. She apologized, but then said that someone who wasn’t Jewish wouldn’t notice something like that. Three weeks later, I am still upset about this. I’d prefer not to see her again, but my husband says I have to confront her. (I am a nonconfrontational person.) Advice?
I disagree with your husband. You already told your friend that her antisemitic statement was hurtful. She apologized, then proceeded to make the same hateful comment in a slightly different way.
If you want to hash out her bigotry with her, that’s your call. But the injured have no obligation to edify their perpetrators (much less twice). Steer clear of her if you prefer. When she tries to make another date, say no — or tell her she needs to examine her prejudices before you’re willing to see her again.
Just Checking In!
My friend and I are about to take a very important test. We’ve been preparing for it for over a year and usually see each other once a week. Lately, though, she’s been avoiding me. Someone we have in common told me I remind our friend of the test, and so seeing me makes her anxious. I reached out to her again and tried to reassure her that I was only checking in, but to no avail. Now I’m hurt by her silence. Is there anything else I can do?
Sometimes friends need breaks. I’m not saying it’s rational that the sight of you makes your friend anxious. But for now, it does. It also would have been better if she’d shared this information with you directly. So, I get your hurt feelings.
Is it possible to put your communication on hold until the looming test is over? If you can, that may be a better, more relaxed time for talking it through with your friend. It’s also possible that her behavior may feel like an abandonment from which you can’t bounce back. That’s a fair response too. For now, though, trying to force your friend to deal with you is unlikely to be productive.
I am 29 and dating a man who is 61. My friends have expressed concern that our age gap is too big, but I don’t feel that way in my interactions with him. Recently, though, in an airport terminal, he asked me to “slow down” and walk with him. He sounded like a commanding father trying to reign in an unruly child. And walking at his slow pace constrains me. Should I keep walking right out of his life?
It’s not surprising that a (possibly exasperated) request from a man old enough to be your father might seem paternalistic to you. He may have been frustrated that he was unable to keep up. But your feeling is worth examining.
Now, I have no idea whether you should break up with him. You’ve only shared one moment of your relationship. Still, it may be symbolic of other issues that will arise between you as the years go by. Don’t ignore your concern; try to place it in the larger context of your relationship. How do his age and walking speed factor into all the qualities you both bring to the table?
For help with your awkward situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com, to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.
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