DEAR AMY: I met a guy this spring, and we basically spent every day together during the summer. One night he texted me to say “good night,” and added that he loves me. Although I felt the same way, I was completely shocked that he felt this way. A couple of weeks later, we spent a week on vacation with our two children (both age 5). After we got home, he asked me to meet him to talk. He said he thought we were moving too fast and that he didn’t want to see me anymore. I respected his wishes and didn’t call or text him, but after two days he texted me and asked me to go to the movies. After the movie, he told me that he thinks we just need to take things slowly. We are still together and continue to talk, hang out and do things together, but I am so confused. Sometimes it feels like we are in this weird place in our relationship. I really care about him, and we are back in a good place, but I have no clue what could have caused his random stepping away from me. What should I do now?
DEAR SEMI-ATTACHED: This stepping away doesn’t seem particularly random to me. I detect a case of regret-texting, and possibly cold feet — or rather, lukewarm feet.
You and your guy are both parents of young children. During your vacation week, he may have observed the impact of this relationship on his child, and decided to slow down.
He might not agree with your parenting style, or may have come to believe that you two have different values. He might be concerned about the dynamic between the two children. Or his child (or his ex) might have made a statement that scared him into backing away.
But when there are children involved, slow is the best way to engage in a relationship that may ultimately have a life-altering impact on everyone.
What you should do now is to ask him to be extremely frank with you regarding the reasons behind the temperature change, and make your own decision about continuing the relationship.
DEAR AMY: I married into a tight-knit family. This closeness is something I’m not used to, and to be quite frank, it is very unappealing to me. However, I’ve learned to go with it. It’s who they are. My husband’s cousin recently got engaged. Her wedding date is in mid-October. We are extremely happy for her. Unfortunately, at the time of the wedding I will be 37 weeks pregnant, and we won’t be able to attend because the wedding is over 14 hours away. My doctor has told me not to travel. My husband was a little bummed out, but hasn’t expressed any real annoyance over it. We’ve discovered that my husband’s grandmother is extremely upset and annoyed that he will be staying home with our daughter and me. She said that she doesn’t think my pregnancy and the possibility of going into labor while they are gone is a valid reason to miss this wedding. She bluntly told me that I should make him attend the wedding on his own. His other family members seem to understand. We have spoken to the bride, and she completely understands and agrees that we should not attend. “Gram” does not seem to care who she shares her feelings with, or who is around when she criticizes us. How am I supposed to handle all the not-so-subtle jabs I get from her?
Pregnant and Shamed
DEAR PREGNANT: It might be time for you to demonstrate to your husband’s grandmother who, exactly, is in charge of your health, body, decisions, and relationships. Hint — you are.
If your husband won’t speak up, you can say, “Gram, you’ve made it clear that you don’t like the choice we have made, but we’ve made it, and we’re moving on. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t continue to bring it up. Can you do that for me?”
Then you wait quietly for an acknowledgment from her.
And then you pour yourself a stiff shot of V8 juice.
DEAR AMY: I was shaking with rage when I read the letter from “Not Really Stepdad,” the creep who was preying on his (common-law) stepdaughter. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, exploited by someone like this guy, I want to thank you for your strong, unequivocal response.
DEAR SURVIVOR: I’ve received an outpouring of responses from survivors. It is, frankly, devastating.