Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: I'm a 27-year-old female. I broke up with my boyfriend of seven years in March because he was caught texting a girl (she'd already been brought up in conversation as an issue for me) in a very non-platonic way, if you know what I mean. I admit to being very jealous so I tried to give him space to have whatever friends he wanted, but I also believe there should be very clear boundaries with these "friends." Anyhow, even after the breakup we are still acting like we're together. He spends nearly every night at my house, we still "do the do," he gets jealous over other guys I'm talking to but when I say let's try again, he tells me no. I honestly think he has someone (or several someones) else but with no proof -- and the way he still treats me like he wants this, I can't really walk away without knowing for sure. Any advice?
DEAR CONFUSED: Let's review: You broke up with your long-term boyfriend because of your suspicions, but you still spend most nights together, "do the do," act like you're still a couple, feel jealous and possessive over each other, etc.
Exactly what about your (or his) behavior indicates that you have broken up? When you break up with someone, you stop cohabiting and "doing the do" with that person. You disengage from their romantic shenanigans, and they from yours. You back away. Make a break from that person, hence the term breakup.
As things are, your boyfriend has all of the advantages of being with you, as well as the freedom to be with others because you're no longer officially a couple. You have this same freedom, and because you seem confused about the whole breaking-up concept, rather than wait for proof that he is seeing other women, I suggest that you always use a condom when you're with him (to guard against STDs), and behave like you're single and date others if you want to.
You need to train yourself not to care so much about what your "ex" is up to. And you will only do that once you have figured out how to really break up with him.
DEAR AMY: I recently retired after 42 years of working. I am enjoying my time so far, although there are some days when I feel sad. I know it's a transition from a busy professional life in academia. I run into people, friends or acquaintances, who ask me, "What do you do all day?" Other than saying, "Anything I want!" or providing a list of things I am doing -- is there a better response to their queries? -- I can't help but feel put down for no longer working full time.
Retired and Happy
DEAR RETIRED: Someone posed this question to me once when I was a stay-at-home mother. "What do you do all day" comes out sounding like such a put-down, when for some people it might simply be their clunky way of asking what (and how) you're doing once your status has changed.
I love your response: "Anything I want!" I also think you should take this awkward question as an opening to a short conversation about what your life is like now that you are retired. If you're up for it, this conversation might lead down an interesting path.
DEAR AMY: Regarding the letter from "Distraught Mom," about the horrific state of her daughter's bedroom, I wanted to say my daughter's room was also like this (perhaps not quite as bad). We went through all the issues and threats we could think of -- with no resolution. We finally told her, "Clean up your room or we will take your bedroom door off." We took her door off for a month. She realized she had no privacy and cleaned up her room and kept it that way. The door went back on.
George, in Winnipeg
DEAR GEORGE: Your solution is extreme, but it worked. Another solution also involves a door -- and that is to keep it closed. I haven't seen the inside of one daughter's room in months.