No license to shame

Joey Garcia

My boyfriend and I, both 16, have been together for a year. We get along great, and he is really happy with me. The problem is his mom. She liked me at first, but now says I turned her son against her. Her whole reason is that he isn’t home much. He’s at my house or we’re out. He likes my family because they’re fun, and his mom is really negative. She tells my boyfriend that I’m fat (not true), and that he’ll regret being with me. Do you think there is a way I can get her to like me again?

Yes, there’s a sliver of a chance, but it’s unlikely. That’s because you’re not the real issue. This is: Your boyfriend’s mother is afraid of being replaced. She doesn’t grasp that being his mother is not a license to remain the primary female in his life. If he has a backbone, he won’t respond when she employs guilt or shame to manipulate him into staying small. Maturity means growing into awareness that she is important to him, and that you are, too. There’s no conflict in that reality. But if he develops a habit of succumbing to guilt, neither he, nor his mother, will ever be happy.

When you messaged me on Facebook with this question I asked you if she was a single mom. You said yes, that she was divorced, didn’t date and had few friends. You might consider inviting her to join your family one night for dinner. By including her in your fun, you give her what she yearns for: the feeling of belonging. Your boyfriend should also encourage her to focus on her life by establishing friendships, hobbies and joy.

A woman in my apartment complex gave me a gift of holiday boxer shorts and a fifth of really good whiskey. I hardly know her—we talked one night at a party—so I think it’s weird. Now I find myself taking routes to avoid her because I don’t know what to say to her.

Just laugh and say: “Did I miss the white elephant exchange, or did you want to see me in boxers? I’m hoping it’s not the latter, because that’s not my style.” She’ll probably apologize, and you can be on your way. But if she wants to hang out, and you don’t, be clear about that. The night the two of you met, you might have said something that led her to believe you felt a connection. Let her down easy, but leave no room for misinterpretation.

I work with this guy who flirts with me, and teases me like he’s really interested, and then goes on about hot girls who walk by. He never asks me out. Is he waiting for me for make a move?

Nah, but I like the way your mind talked you into keeping hope alive. That’s a useful skill when motivating yourself to achieve a goal, but it’s not helpful with your flirtatious friend. He’s just playful, or maybe attention-seeking. It’s also possible that he’s (unconsciously) setting the groundwork for sexual harassment charges in the future. But he’s not too shy to ask someone out. And, hey, do you really want to date a man who likes to talk salaciously about other women’s bodies when he’s with you? (Please say no … )

Meditation of the week
“Creativity can release you from the limitations that the world has constructed around you: the everyday, the mundane 9-5 jail cell where everybody is waiting for the weekend to party so they can get outside of their head,” says actor Robert LaSardo. What have you done lately for the Muse?

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