Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: I have a stepson who has been dating and living with a "cougar" since he was 23 years old. He is now 33. She is 14 years his senior. He wants to have kids but she has never had any and doesn't plan to have any after they get married. She is a nice person but I don't know why he stays with her when he is a handsome guy and a lot of girls think he looks like Bradley Cooper. He had a failed relationship with someone his own age prior to meeting this cougar, and I wonder if he doesn't want his feelings to be hurt by someone running out on him again. I know her chances of getting a different boyfriend at her stage of life would be difficult. She is not in the decent shape that would attract a man (due to her size). Let's face it, Amy, men are very visual. My wife agrees with me that she is a nice person but also very old for him, and we don't know if we should say something. She is almost old enough to be his mother! It seems like he keeps putting off getting married, even though they have been engaged for the last five years. Recently we attended a wedding and the new in-laws made a comment during the wedding that their son's bride was a "keeper." Both my wife and I don't feel the same about this 47-year-old cougar. Am I missing something?

Confused

DEAR CONFUSED: Yes, you are missing something. A sense of decency, for instance.

Your son has been with the same woman for 10 years. Her age when they got together (37) does not put her into the "cougar" territory, which by your repeated use and context seems to be the worst thing you can think of to say about a middle-aged woman who has loved your stepson for a decade.

Given your attitude toward the "very nice" person with whom your son has chosen to spend his life, I am stunned that he still has a relationship with you. I suggest that you be much more respectful toward (and careful about) your stepson's partner.

DEAR AMY: I met my partner online. We've been living together for two years. When we got serious, she removed her dating profile but lately I see her hiding her computer screen from me and typing furtively. This raised suspicions. I have discovered that she has a new and active profile with the same well-known dating site where we met. This is a new profile and shows her as active within a day of my checking. I would like to know how to go about confronting her without causing a huge blowup.

Wondering

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DEAR WONDERING: You can hope for a peaceful resolution to this, but perhaps a big blowup is inevitable. Don't rule it out -- or be afraid of it. Obviously you have something important to discuss, and this incident will cause you both to face it.

Share your honest reaction with her and ask her to describe what she was thinking when she chose to start shopping herself online. Try to prepare yourself for denials and recriminations -- and also for bad news. Unless you can come to a rational understanding, this should be a deal-breaker for you.

DEAR AMY: Thank you for your reply to "Hurt" and your comments about graduation announcements. I am one of those people who has done a terrible job over the years keeping up with birthdays, graduations, etc. Over time, with the blessings of more and more friends and family members, it became impossible for me to keep up. All of these years I beat myself up over it -- sometimes trying to make it up to people, sometimes sending very late cards or gifts, but much of the time coming up with nothing. I am now 63 years old and work continually on forgiving myself. When I die, I hope the beloved people in my life will know that this person, who often fell short of acknowledgments, still loved them deeply.

Fell Short

DEAR SHORT: You've expressed this beautifully.