Advice column by Tim White, PhD, LPC, NCC.
Tim White, PhD, LPC, NCC offers advice on family planning and parenting, LGBT issues, disability issues, education and work issues, relationships, ethics and "unusual" social issues. Send questions to Tim for future columns through his website.
I am a woman, 38 years young, and big kid at heart; friendly, cheerful and social. I am one of those morning people full of coffee who are so cheerful they sometimes get on others' nerves. I wear youngish clothes in bright colors like overalls, loud prints and bright sneakers, or striped socks and hats with big plastic purses and costume jewelry. I like to wear my red hair in pigtails or very curly and wild. I have always been childlike in the way I dress and act and it has never been a problem until recently. I have been working as a receptionist at a small office for an attorney over the past few months, and I have gotten stares but my boss asked me to change my wardrobe because clients are put off by my appearance. Is that acceptable? We don't even have a dress code! Should I take this lying down or fight to be who I am?
- Cheery Chick
If your office does not currently have a dress code I think you have inspired one. You sound about two tablespoons of clown white away from the circus. I tried to imagine all possible reactions I might have if I were arriving at my attorney's office clutching my neck brace, or limping painfully, having lived through the trauma of getting rear-ended by a city bus, mauled by a pit bull, or worse; an IRS audit, only to be greeted by a caffeine-charged Raggedy Ann or Pippi Longstocking galloping up to me barking salutations; somewhere near the top of my list was "sheer terror," depending on how much caffeine I had that morning. It is great you bring energy and enthusiasm to your workplace, and a pediatrician or toy store may be ideal for employees with a penchant for the perky, but legal proceedings provide enough surprises; the ambience should be as somber as possible. I am not a professional stylist, but there is room for compromise at your place of work if you are willing. You could pair smart and subdued suit pieces with colorful belts or shoes or other accessories or tie up that merry mop with a bright bow, thereby making your outfit pop, not explode all over the room like a dirty bomb.
I am a mid-forties woman, divorced five years after 20 years of marriage. I've dated before, but nothing serious, since I have high standards. My ex-husband has stayed connected only through our two kids, and has been a fine father. Although he cheated on me and lied about it more than once, which ended our marriage, he seems to have been a decent husband to his new wife of three years (she is not one he cheated with). Last weekend, we got together to discuss our daughter's upcoming wedding. We felt comfortable alone together for the first time in a long time, and he confessed that he wanted to sleep with me! He wants to make it a regular thing, and rationalizes that I would not have to trust him anymore, just have fun the way we used to and keep it casual. I am lonely, still attracted to him, and he can pour on the charm when he wants to. What would the harm be?
- Reconnected Ex
It sounds like It's Complicated. No, seriously: the plot of the 2009 comedy film, give or take a few details. Your ex-husband is married to a woman who, like you at one time, trusts him. You even noted she was not one of his paramours. Is there some reason she does not deserve the respect you did not receive? You say you want to throw caution to the wind, but the path you are considering is lousy with caution. What could be more comfortable and safe than hopping in the sack with this familiar guy; a guy who is also unable to be honest with any mate. This is the same old routine for him, and only fake-naughty for you. I am not even convinced that you are convinced; if so, why write me and mention your high standards? All this energy and time taken up by Mr. Disappointment might be better spent on a new, single someone out there with a better personality.
All Human and Loving It
I am a 20-year-old, red-blooded woman with definite needs who is attracted to the most smoking hot, fit boy with an actual brain and a sense of humor. When I say fit I mean chiseled like an underwear model. Perfect body. He likes me too and we are just starting to get to know each other. Now for the problem. He was very upfront that he is an otherkin. He believes that instead of human he is a therian wolf in a human body; not a lycanthrope, just internally wolfen. It's okay I guess, I have read a lot about it and I am trying to get on board, because he is dead serious about it, although I gather sex would be normal, but in between he wears a collar, eats out of a bowl on the floor, etc. I have to mind my pronouns too. Look, I am a very horny, open-minded girl with a lot of room to grow, but how does one grow around this nonsense?
- All Human and Loving It
Hi All Human,
Otherkin, for those unaware, believe themselves to be partially non-human in spirit, but typically fully acknowledge their human body. Explanations include reincarnation, nonhuman soul ancestry and parallel universes. They may identify as real-life animals or creatures from fiction, or mythical creatures like angels, dragons, fairies, elves and animals, among other beings. Their interest in the paranormal has earned their belief system status as a "quasi-religion" that flourishes on the internet. The identification with their spirit can be quite integrated into daily life, complete with adjusted pronouns. You wrote that he was upfront about his orientation. If this is too off-the-map for you now, the routine out of bed may be much tougher for a nonbeliever to accomodate than a simple kink. The question you need to address with each other is what you expect from getting closer. Will you be happy only romping with your canine Adonis, or will you expect him to become domesticated?
Editor’s Note: The opinions offered in this blog are the author's alone. Tim White, and any experts he may consult and/or quote in responses to letters, will never provide medical or psychological advice, diagnoses, treatment, or counseling of any kind. General advice, opinions, and suggestions may be offered with no obligation on the part of readers to accept or act upon the content published within this column. Anyone in immediate crisis and/or mental/physical distress should call 911 or related resources of assistance.