DEAR AMY: My sister has been dating “Dominic” for close to three years. She decided she wanted to start a whole new career path, which would require going back to school. Dom claims to want to be a cop, but doesn’t appear to be doing anything about it. We’ve all been concerned about their situation, but now our fears are growing deeper as I have recently caught Dom in a lie. Recently, he claimed to have gone on a “ride along” with the police units Aviation Unit. I found it quite hard to believe he did such a thing and did some research and found the relevant paperwork online, which clearly states no one is permitted to ride along with the Aviation Unit. Furthermore, the picture he posted on his social media account bragging about his experience was actually taken from a blog posted in 2011. (I learned this doing a “reverse image” search.) Our whole family is very upset that this guy could be taking advantage of my sister and lying about everything. My sister has taken on a lot of financial responsibility for the two of them. She works two jobs, can barely afford her bills and can’t afford to go to school for the career she wants. She is in love with this guy. We don’t know how to tell her that we fear her relationship is based on lies. She is 26. How can we approach her and talk to her about this without losing her to this guy?
DEAR SISTER: You’ve taken it upon yourself to catch this guy, and so you should deliver the news to your sister that “Dominic” is not the man he pretends to be.
You should deliver this in a neutral way, offering her only the facts, and letting her decide what — if anything — she wants to do about it.
It can be heartbreaking to watch a beloved family member bury her own dreams and engage in what seems like a dead-end relationship, but you must always accept the fact that she is making her own choices. Even if you disagree with these choices, you should convey to her that she is in charge of her own life and that you will always be in her corner, no matter what.
Be very wary of making overly negative statements or nonnegotiables concerning this person. You may all be stuck with him for some time to come.
DEAR AMY: My girlfriend and I have been dating for more than two years now. We’ve been talking about marriage for well over a year, but I really haven’t put a date on when to propose to her. We generally knew that a good time to get engaged was once she was done with her nursing program (this December) and perhaps once she had found employment. Recently, my brother told me he plans to propose to his girlfriend in December around his own one-year anniversary. Is there an etiquette surrounding how long I should wait to propose in order to not steal his spotlight? He knew I planned to propose to my girlfriend but we had never discussed timing, so I can’t fault him. Still, I can’t help but feel his proposal plans mean I have to wait on mine. What should I do? I’m trying to be thoughtful.
DEAR SISTER: You should ask your brother when, exactly, he plans to propose (obviously promise to keep this knowledge to yourself).
If he proposes in December, I think if you waited until Valentine’s Day, that would give everyone a chance to absorb the first couple’s happy news.
Keep all potential date conflicts in mind when planning your weddings.
DEAR AMY: This time of year, so many families fret about gift-giving. When I was growing up, our extended family consisted of my grandparents, their three sons and spouses and seven grandchildren — 15 people. Our family decided to do a drawing. Each family member drew the name of another member of the family not in their immediate family group. Each family member got just one gift, each gift from someone not in their immediate family. However, we kids still got lots of gifts from our parents and grandparents.
DEAR HAPPY: My family also did this. The drawing occurred around the Thanksgiving table after the dishes had been cleared. This is a fun way to handle the gift exchange.