Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: I lost my husband in a motorcycle accident in August 2014. Since then I've moved cross country to be closer to family and friends. I recently reconnected with my very first boyfriend. We have been together constantly and are wholeheartedly in love. The problem is my adult son, with whom I am currently living (along with my younger daughter). I had great anxiety about how my friends and family would react to our situation, but everyone has been nice and says it's great to see me smiling again. My husband left my son his favorite work-in-progress -- a muscle car that needs a lot of work. This would be the only thing that my son wants help with from my new boyfriend, who is very knowledgeable about restoring old cars. My son is generally rude and very distant toward my boyfriend, but now that he knows he could get this muscle car up and running he acts just nice enough to get help. I've asked him numerous times to just sit and talk with my boyfriend, but he won't soften up. It's causing a lot of unnecessary stress in our lives. What do you suggest?
DEAR MOM: A lot has happened in all of your lives in less than a year. Take a breath, relax and give everyone time to grieve, try to recover and learn to move on -- each in his own way and time.
Many men find the idea of "just sitting and talking" intimidating, unnatural and frankly impossible. If your son is one of these people, then "doing" (vs. talking) would be an easier way for him to communicate with and get to know your new guy.
If you didn't already have a muscle car in the driveway, I would suggest getting one as a way for these two men to work alongside each other and connect. In this context, "Pass me the socket wrench" would qualify as a connection, and you should encourage both men to pursue it.
Understand your son's ambivalence about your love relationship. Urge him to try to soften and be gentle with himself. Once he is, he'll soften toward others.
DEAR AMY: I am a high school teacher in my mid-20s. I am saving to move out of my parents' home and go to graduate school. Needless to say, every penny counts. Recently I have noticed a trend with my friend every time we go out for dinner, grab a coffee, take a cab or simply any time money is involved. She has a mentality of "You get this one, I'll get the next." The problem is, sometimes there isn't a "next," or the "next" is forgotten and I end up holding the bag. This seems to happen the most with cab rides where I have cash and she doesn't. Then, if reminded, she shrugs it off with, "Yup, I owe you one." I can barely afford to pay my own way. I love my friend dearly but do not know how to approach this. Will I risk insulting her?
DEAR UNWILLING: There's no risk of insult here. You only say, "Ugh, I'm sorry but I'm so tapped out, I just can't afford to pick up the tab for both of us. I need to pay only my way from here on out." Let her know this before you go out. Use cash, and bring only enough cash to pay for yourself.
DEAR AMY: I was shocked at your answer to "Troubled Teen," the 15-year-old girl who was being sexually harassed by a man at church. You actually suggested that if he enters a room, she should leave it! If she does that, she is basically handing over her power. She should look him straight in the eye and tell him if he touches her she'll scream.
DEAR DISAPPOINTED: Your suggestion is wonderful -- and unrealistic. My goal is to keep this teenager safe, and the only surefire way for her to stay safe is not to be in the same room as this man -- and to tell other trusted adults about what he is doing.