Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mom Can't Stop Grown Son From Meeting Online Girlfriend

Dear Harlan,

How can I support my son? He's met a girl online and wants to meet her. He's been chatting with her for several months and has developed strong feelings for her. It's become an intense relationship. He's just started his first year in college and has been consumed with this girl. They haven't met, but yet they call themselves a couple. He wants to meet her, and I'm having a hard time supporting this decision. In fact, I think it's a terrible idea. There's no way to know if this is safe or what he's getting into. They are going to meet halfway and spend the weekend together. What advice can you offer a concerned mom who doesn't want to push her son away, but is consumed with worry?

Concerned Mom

Dear Concerned Mom,

You're not going to stop him from meeting her. And he's not going to listen to me either. He's an adult. He's going to meet her. So, accept it. When he does meet her, he's either he's going to fall deeper in love with this woman (assuming she's actually a woman and not a man) or he's going to be totally disappointed and deflated. Once you can accept that he's going to meet her, stress safety. Insist they meet on his own turf. This way she can have a place to stay (at a hotel) and he can go home if it's not feeling comfortable. It's also safer if he's near familiar people — friends and family. Encourage him to do a background check (offer to pay for it) to verify what she says about herself is true. Tell him to assume that it's true, but he should check just to be safe. See if you can meet her too (invite her over for dinner). The fact that he feels comfortable enough to include you in this part of his life says a lot. Once he communicates that you're so welcoming, this girl will freak out because she's a fake or meet you and let you be the judge. If you still can't get through to him, have a relative or someone he trusts talk some sense into him. Make it about safety. Meeting in a strange place isn't smart or safe.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Dear Harlan,

I just got a new roommate about a month ago. The problem is that she is very overweight and not very active. She has taken to using my couch (we have two living rooms, one with her furniture and one with mine) to read and talk on the phone. This would not be an issue at all, except that my couch is down-filled and not sturdy enough to hold up to her excess weight. It's ruining the cushions right where she sits. My sofa is decent and does not otherwise need to be replaced, nor do I have the money to buy another one. Her sofa is sturdier construction, but she doesn't use it. I also gave her a "deal" on the rent; so it's not like she's paying enough to cover a sofa replacement. How can I resolve this issue? I don't want to hurt her or ruin a relationship.

Sofa Situation

Dear Sofa Situation,

I imagine your couch's cozy down cushions shape nicely to your roommate's buttocks? Down is cozy. I understand why she likes your couch. The answer might be having her fluff after she sits and regularly rotating cushions (model this for her after you get up). If the fluffing doesn't work — move the sofas. Tell her you read it's a good idea to rotate cushions and sofas. If she follows the fluffy sofa into the other room, then let it go. There's no kind way to tell her that her weight is ruining the sofa. Besides, sofas don't come with a weight limit on them. If you find that your cushions are getting crushed, you might need to replace the cushions instead of your roommate. Talk to a sofa salesperson and investigate. But say the wrong thing, and living with her will be far more uncomfortable than a couch could ever be.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Future Grandma-In-Law Talks Too Much Trash For Future Granddaughter-In-Law

Dear Harlan,

I'm 21, recently engaged, and things are great — except for my fiance's grandmother. She tries to tell him how to live every aspect of his life, and she has recently begun to do the same to me. She wants to do my laundry, tells me what to wear, how to cut my hair and even that I need to lose weight. She even tells me that I'm crazy for wanting to marry her grandson. How do I deal with her without hurting his feelings or hers?

Granddaugther-in-law to be

Dear Granddaughter-in-law,

I see the Facebook and Twitter feed right now — "Stuff my GIL says" (GIL stands for grandma-in-law). Like all patriarchs and matriarchs who no longer care what other people think, GILs can be as insightful as they can be offensive. The trick is to find the gold in her trash-talking. There's nothing wrong with listening to her rants, but this doesn't mean doing what she wants. There's a difference between listening and doing whatever you and your fiance want. While listening, consider digging deeper at times when she offers gold. For example, when she tells you that you're crazy for wanting to marry her grandson, ask her why she thinks you're crazy. She might know something you don't know. But when she says to lose weight, buy clothes and do the laundry, tell her thank you and then do whatever you want. If you're happy and your fiance is happy, then there's no reason to make her happy. It's not like you're marrying her. Give her permission to be an outspoken GIL and make a commitment with your man to

live a life that works for you both — not her.