Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: For my first wedding anniversary, my mom got us a crystal paperweight in the shape of a heart. When I opened the package, I was confused. I even said to my husband, "This is so not me, and I'd be shocked if my mom didn't know that." I knew the gift was expensive and discovered that it cost over $150. My mom is a keepsake person; we are not. In the past my mom has seemed to understand this and has given gifts accordingly -- usually something consumable, like a good bottle of wine. On the phone I thanked my mom for the gift and said it was lovely (because it was) that we appreciated the gift (which we did). She explained that there was another paperweight in red we could exchange it for if we liked it better and encouraged me to look online for it. I took this as a sign that she was flexible about the gift. Online I found a crystal ornament of the same brand and sent her a link with the message, "I kinda love this!" The only keepsakes that are part of our family tradition are Christmas ornaments, and I thought if her gift to us were an ornament, I'd admire it during the holidays on the tree and genuinely love it. She emailed me this morning saying that an ornament "Isn't even close to what I had in mind to commemorate your first wedding anniversary" and that I could exchange it for the red paperweight if I liked that better, or if I didn't want either paperweight, to send it back and she wouldn't replace it. She said, "My feelings are already a bit bruised either way." It seems I've already done the damage. Do I just keep the paperweight?
DEAR GUILTY: Yes. You keep the paperweight. Your reaction and effort to get what you want seem to have touched a nerve.
But this is not about what you want. It's about what your mother wants to give to you. It's not necessarily rational, but it's a mom thing. She wanted you to have something specific that meant something to her. She has been honest and gently reproachful. Apologize with a hug and move on.
DEAR AMY: My boyfriend and I have been dating for four years and I love him, but things have seemed boring for a while now. A guy from work started flirting with me. We exchanged numbers. I told him I had a boyfriend, but we still talked. One night he called me, upset about his past relationship. He had been drinking, so I was worried and went to his place to cheer him up. We ended up making out (that was not my intention), but I started to feel wanted again. Fast-forward two weeks and he doesn't talk to me anymore. We used to text multiple times a day and he would call me every day. I'm just confused as to what this guy wants from me. I also want to know if it's worth it to mess up what I have with my boyfriend by breaking it off with him to try things with this new guy, who doesn't want a relationship. To be honest, I only wanted something physical with this guy anyway. I'm just not sure what to do.
DEAR CONFUSED: This isn't actually all that confusing. The guy at work is not into you. Leave him alone. Your relationship with your boyfriend is not working. You probably should leave him alone too.
DEAR AMY: I think you should add something in the advice you gave to "New Stepmom." I married a wonderful man with two sons and I, too, had no children of my own. I'd advise her not to talk negatively about their mother in front of them. My sons, as I like to call them, grew up to be wonderful husbands and fathers. Their father has been gone now for 12 years but I'm still very much involved in their lives.
Grateful Stepmother and Grandmother
DEAR GRATEFUL: Being a stepparent is a very challenging job. You did well.