DEAR AMY: My 30-year-old niece has lived with her boyfriend for three years. They became engaged last year and then called off the engagement but still live together. My niece recently revealed that she defines herself (and relationship) as polyamorous -- or open to additional sexual relationships outside the primary relationship. According to my niece, she recently met and "fell in love" with another woman and now the three of them are all in a relationship together. I explained to my niece that her choice to be polyamorous is personal and should remain private, as should any other sexual proclivity. Now I am accused of trivializing the love-of-her-life and sexualizing her most sacred personal relationships. My niece feels she must be "open and honest" about this situation. My bottom line is you get to bring one significant other (not two) to Christmas dinner. My niece does not understand this and is deeply hurt and feels rejected. The uncles and aunts and her parent (my brother) are up in arms about the whole thing and say they will not have their children around this depraved situation. Any thoughts?
What is the World Coming To
DEAR WWCT: The world, apparently, is coming to this.
You have the right to lay down whatever rules you want when you are entertaining in your own home. Your niece is being "open and honest" and so you should be open and honest, as well as respectful.
You should not tell this adult how to live. She does not need instructions from you on what to keep private. Her life is her own business; where it intersects with your life is where you can make it your own business.
It might help if you see things this way: Your niece has formed a "family" with two other people. You can reject one or both of her family members, or you can choose to be inclusive, without really caring one way or the other how they work out their sex lives.
Her sex life should not be a topic of discussion at the holiday table, any more than you and your husband -- or other family members -- would be inclined to discuss their sex lives at the table. Honestly, most children could care less how adults partner up.
DEAR AMY: I am a freshman in high school. My friend "Lexie" smells really bad. I've known her for three years and started noticing a smell, and I realized it is her. I am not sure if it is her breath, body odor, or both. Do I confront her about it? Or do I keep it to myself? She has a hard life and I don't want her to be upset. I just need to do something, I'm finding it annoying and irritating to be around her these days because of it. I fear this problem is preventing us from making new friends in high school.
Almost Out of Odor
DEAR ALMOST: It might help if you invited "Lexie" to your house. You and/or your mother might be able to help with some hygiene-related issues. In addition to bathing regularly and washing her hair, she may need some help with washing her clothes.
It is pretty common at adolescence to develop different smells -- and sometimes pretty bad body odor -- because at your age, everybody's body is going haywire, hormonally.
Don't "confront" your friend about this, but do try to say, "Hey, can I tell you something? Sometimes I notice your odor. I've got all sorts of stuff from Bath and Body Works. Do you want to come to my house and try it out?"
DEAR AMY: Oh, that question from "Distraught Mom" made my blood boil! This mother was seriously wondering whether to let her teenage daughter attend a keg party? In addition to your good advice I have a reminder to all parents: It is illegal for you to host or let your underage children drink.
DEAR UPSET: State laws differ; in Illinois parents can let their own underage child drink, but only their own child (with a parent present) and only in their own home. They may not serve alcohol to any other underage people.