Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: I have a 23-year-old granddaughter who has been living with a 25-year-old man for over five years. He doesn't seem to feel he should get engaged or plan their marriage. I know she is upset about not getting a ring and approached him about it a few months ago. He said he would get her a ring but wanted to wait until he had saved enough money for it. But time goes on and still no ring! He treats her well and to my knowledge her only complaint is that he will not commit to engagement or marriage. His parents lived together for seven years before they got married, so that might be one reason why he hasn't made the commitment. I've been married for 60 years and feel that if you are going to live with someone you need to make a commitment to marry soon -- and not several years down the road. Am I old-fashioned? Should I let her continue to be "used" by him? I feel that the lack of commitment doesn't show her respect. Perhaps his argument is that he is committed -- by providing for her as she continues her education. They live as man and wife without the ring and marriage. I know that it bothers her, but she continues to hang in there.

Disappointed

DEAR DISAPPOINTED: You are old-fashioned. Furthermore, you seem to judge this man harshly. He is no more "using" your granddaughter than she is using him (he is supporting her while she pursues her education). The two are merely cohabiting, not undertaking a life of crime. In fact, even by your account, he sounds like a nice guy who is supportive and kind. Saving up for a ring (rather than going into debt) is the right and responsible thing to do. Furthermore, it doesn't take an engagement ring to get married.

If your granddaughter really wants to get married, she might have to employ the age-old pressure tactic: "We either get married or we part." If she lays her frustrations at your feet, you should encourage her to do something rather than complain.

DEAR AMY: I recently connected with an old acquaintance via a dating website. He used to date my sister. This was over 20 years ago. As a courtesy, I told my sister that I had been talking to and seeing him. Her initial response was. "I don't care, that was over 20 years ago and I am happy." Four days later she called me and ripped me a new one. She told me I was disrespecting her. She said I was disgusting and being selfish. Neither he nor I have a problem with their long-ago relationship. Am I being disrespectful? Am I being selfish?

Living My Own Life

DEAR LIVING: So far, the big mistake you seem to have made is to give your sister the courtesy of a "heads up" regarding your interest in this guy. She chose to respond rudely.

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The kindest assumption is that your sister needs some time to adjust her attitude toward you. You should give her ample time and privacy to do this. Don't discuss your relationship until she demonstrates the willingness to behave respectfully. If she has a problem with your choice, she should discuss it rather than tell you off.

DEAR AMY: I'm responding to the discussion sparked by "Dejected," whose husband doesn't compliment her looks. I feel abused when a man compliments me on my body. Not that I am uncomfortable with my body but because I am so much more than my body. A compliment about my body is unwanted, whereas I would welcome a compliment about ME. The body compliment feeds the male ego. When a male can get beyond the physical and sexual, and make a compliment truly about her, the female will respond differently.

Not Complimented

DEAR NOT: This discussion was about how spouses and partners interact -- not about being catcalled on the street. Your response illustrates why men sometimes feel they just can't win.