Dear Ms. Behavior:
My new girlfriend, Dee-Dee, has a 13-year-old daughter, Fonda. I like kids, and I even like this kid, but I hate the way Dee-Dee treats this girl. She wakes up in the morning out of bed with me, and immediately is thinking about the kid.
This is what it’s like at the breakfast table: “Fonda, do you want eggs? Pancakes? Cereal? A muffin? Toast? What can I make for you? You have to eat!” Finally, the kid is, like, “OK, waffles, then.”
But they have this type of conversation about everything. Dee-Dee totally babies her. And I get nothing. I think Dee-Dee is the one woman I’ve dated with whom I actually have a good shot at love.
What can I do to make the situation with Fonda tolerable?
Dear Dee-Dee’s Butch:
If you want to be in a relationship with Dee-Dee, you have to accept that Fonda comes first. That’s just how it is when you’re involved with a mother. You can’t sulk, suck your thumb, and complain that you get nothing.
So, try to envision your future, and see if it works for you.
Let’s say you want extra cuddle time, and Fonda needs help with her homework. The upshot? No cuddle time for you.
Say you want to try out your new double-headed vibrating sex toy with Dee-Dee, but Fonda comes home from school early with a craving for milk and cookies. You’d better be willing quickly to change your agenda to chocolate chips and a refreshing beverage.
The question you need to ask yourself is whether you can tolerate a relationship where you’re not Number One.
If you can, that’s great. You’ll get to find out if you and Dee-Dee might have a future together.
But if you’re resentful about Dee-Dee’s offering several different breakfast choices before Fonda settles on waffles, it doesn’t bode well for the thousands of other negotiations you likely will endure. Keep in mind that if Dee-Dee were to put your needs before her kid’s, it would mean that she was actually a lousy parent.
If your relationship with Dee-Dee doesn’t work out, please make sure your next girlfriend isn’t a MILF. Consider seeking a childless woman, so that you can be sure of being her only baby.
Dear Ms. Behavior:
I never in my whole life have cheated on a boyfriend—until very recently.
I’ve been with Jason for eight years. He’s a devoted and loving man who took me in when I was addicted to drugs and alcohol. He loved me back to health.
Recently, I’ve been concerned that Jason has let himself go (he has gained about 15 pounds). He no longer is interested in daily sex. He’s five years older than I am. He no longer works hard to stay fit, like I do. I doubt that I’ll be a couch potato when I’m Jason’s age (39).
I recently met Frank in a totally unexpected way, and ended up going home with him. (I wasn’t looking for anything.) I’ve been staying with him for two months now, and it seems like my life has exploded. I’m happy in one way, but also lonely, because all my friends are judgmental about this.
Frank is 25. He’s in great shape. He can’t keep his hands off me. I’m having a fantastic time. My friends are angry. They’re acting like I’m a horrible person for “abandoning” Jason, who apparently still is waiting for me to come home. (All my stuff is still at our apartment.) They say I need to grow up.
Do I? Or am I just pursuing my happiness, like everyone else?
Dear Peter Pan:
You may not be a horrible person, but you’re a shallow one. If you’re dumping your loving husband of eight years who saved you from the gutter because he has gained 15 pounds, and because a younger man wants you, you’d better pray that karma doesn’t exist.
If you want Jason to take better care of himself, tell him. If you feel like you’re in a rut together, ask him to go with you to couple’s therapy, a tantric workshop, or even a shaman. The point is to do something together to try to fix whatever aspect of your relationship needs attention.
If the problem is that you no longer want a monogamous relationship, tell Jason, rather than demonstrating your disrespect by moving in with someone else without even properly breaking up with Jason. Leaving your crap behind instead of dealing with it means you didn’t end your relationship appropriately.
Don’t just act like a selfish jerk, and hope that it turns out OK in the end. It probably won’t.
© 2008 Meryl Cohn. Address questions and correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org. She is the author of Do What I Say: Ms. Behavior’s Guide to Gay and Lesbian Etiquette (Houghton Mifflin). Signed copies are available directly from the author.