Mom's dates with younger men annoy daughter

October 07, 2007|By Harriette Cole

DEAR HARRIETTE -- My mother and father have been divorced for five years, and she recently started dating. I am excited she has finally moved on from my father, but she is dating men half her age!

My mother is 50, and, although she still looks great, I don't think it is appropriate for her to date 28-year-old men, especially because these are the men that I should be dating!

She doesn't think there is anything wrong with dating men half her age, but it makes me extremely uncomfortable. Am I being selfish?

Renee

Dear Renee --You are in the dilemma that is far more typical of divorced dads who return to the dating world. When divorced parents (of either gender) date younger people, it often makes adult children feel uncomfortable. This is exacerbated by the reality, like yours, that you both could end up dating the same people.

Is there anything you can do about this? No. Of course, you could complain to your mother about the appropriateness of her behavior, but it would be to no end. You might make her feel guilty for attempting to have some fun - but it's unlikely you will get her to stop.

This doesn't mean you have to be happy about her behavior or even that you have to hang out with her and her various dates. You can tell your mother that, for now, you would prefer she keep her dating life to herself.

Tell her the truth: Her dating habits make you extremely uncomfortable. Ask her to let you know if she meets someone special. Then you should meet the man. You might also ask her to check with her dates to ensure that you aren't dating the same people!

DEAR HARRIETTE --My co-worker and I have been working at the same office for the past five years. I have had the biggest crush on him the entire time, but I can't seem to find the courage to ask him out.

He is extremely cute, authoritative and goal-oriented. I've tried to push myself into asking him out for a cup of coffee or lunch, but I always chicken out. Is it wrong to want to start a romantic relationship with a co-worker?

Our office doesn't have a policy against it, but I think it is extremely risky. What should I do?

Jackie

Dear Jackie --Do you know anything about his personal life? Is he involved in a relationship now? Who has he dated in the past?

If you don't know, that's fine. Take a deep breath and go for it. Invite him for coffee, as a friend. If he comes, you'll know he cares about you at least as a friend.

If it feels right, tell him you'd like to go out on a date. He'll say "yes" or "no." The next step should be obvious!

DEAR HARRIETTE --I got so busy at work that I forgot to call one of my good friends on her birthday. Now she's mad at me and is telling everybody who will listen that I don't care about her.

I did call her the moment I remembered, and I was sincerely apologetic. When I offered to take her out for a belated birthday celebration, she said no way.

What should I do? I care about her, and I know she's just acting like this because her feelings are hurt.

Barb

Dear Barb --Send your friend a birthday card. If you can, find a funny "oops" card. Enclose an IOU for a date just for the two of you for some time in the future.

Don't belabor the point of your work getting in the way. Make your card positive. It's likely that your friend will calm down after a while. You can help that by not fueling the fire.

If your other friends bring it up to you, instead of moaning, you can say you plan to do something special with her soon. Affirm the positive.

To avoid this occurring in the future, invest in a good calendar where you can record each of your loved one's special dates. Refer to it regularly. But also know that these things happen. While feelings can get hurt, you are human.

We all make mistakes. Admit when you are wrong and do your best to strike a better balance in your life between work and friendship.

Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is the new creative director of Ebony magazine. You can send questions to askharriette @harriettecole.com.

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