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'm a woman, 30, and I have dated the same man for 3 years. He's the best, we're in love and I couldn't be happier to marry him. I once told him that if he ever proposed, it's been a long-time fantasy of mine to be proposed to on New Year's Eve, exactly at midnight, then be married on the first of the next year. He gets carried away sometimes and he's currently planning to propose to me as a surprise. This is no surprise, he thinks I don't know however I've heard him on the phone and talking to others; he's planning on doing this downtown on a rooftop with a close-up view of fireworks, videotaping, a three-piece band and our friends and family there. My best friend and brother have other plans, and it has gotten awkward. However, the planning and trying to get everyone together while still keeping it a secret has him so stressed out he's cranky all the time, and I wish he would just propose at Starbucks or something, because I don't really care about all that staging, it was just a fun fantasy. How do I get him to tone it down to our usual, simple New Year's Eve without hurting his feelings? — Simple Simone
Hi Simple Simone,
If you want to continue to be “Simple,” set this guy straight before you exchange vows. The thing about big reveals and memory-makers is that memories do not have to be manufactured. Special things are imprinted on our memories all the time, without fanfare, and cannot always be engineered. We do not have to design memories by trying to outdo a Hollywood producer/director/actor just to mark a special event. They have bigger budgets than most of us, and a lot more helpers.
Take your fellow aside and tell him to tone down the New Year's plans. Remind him that you appreciate simple things the most. You do not have to mention that you know about the proposal. Refer to the over-planning and let him know that you are fine with just the two of you celebrating and not so much company. That lets the audience off the hook, but given this late hour you may still have to listen to the band play on under the fireworks. Congratulations!
I'm a woman in my 30’s who recently joined a fiction book club. I enjoy the ladies in the group and have a great time with them socially, but the selections they make are truly mind-numbingly boring. I gather that the more intellectual the book is reviewed to be, the more popular it is with my group mates. I, however, am bored to tears. So, it is my turn to make a nomination and I finally have a chance to suggest something that I find engaging, but now I feel like I will appear less brainy and therefore disappoint these women. How do I lighten our choices without getting uninvited to the group in the future? — Bored Reviewer
Hi Bored Reviewer,
Once upon a time, fiction was meant to be entertainment. We may not learn from everything we read, but we should expect to be entertained. There are good reads that will never be mentioned in the New Yorker or on a popular egghead book list. John Green's The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns are classified as Young Adult, but like many other books in that category are widely appreciated by adults of all ages. Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls is considered a classic in some circles; in others, classic trash. Literature is, after all, art. Readers need to explore outside of their comfort zones in order to truly experience more art in the world, and your group will grow too, when you suggest whatever you truly find interesting. Please do this, explain if necessary that you wanted to offer some variety, and if this gets you disinvited to the club then I nominate their next read to be your Thank You note.
I’m a man, late 20’s. My wife and I bought our first house a little over a year ago, from a man in his 40’s, who was selling it as part of his deceased mother’s estate. He has since been back to the house to take some pictures, and asked to come in a couple of those times to visit, reminisce, and tell us about his mother and his childhood there. He seems like a nice guy but his visits are starting to make me feel uneasy. We don't know him otherwise, or socialize with him. He seems somewhat depressed and missing his mother, so we are reluctant to be abrupt with him but also ready to cut off contact. How do we do this without rejecting a grieving son? — Homestalked
Your nickname says it all. I could not tell you exactly what it costs to file for a restraining order in your area, but thanks to your letter I will now and forever ask anyone I know who has a closing date if there was an allowance for one. His visits are not helping anyone, especially not himself. He had about 40 years to inhabit and/or take pictures of his childhood home. What may have begun as nostalgia appears now to have become obsession. Keep in mind that you know nothing about this fellow. I would keep his information, forwarding address if you have it or can find it, and even try to sneakily take a good snapshot of him. It is extremely rare for me to ever suggest taking someone's photo without their knowledge, but you have to protect yourselves and this man's behavior has been at the very least suspicious. If he returns, you can wish him well but let him know that you will not be able to invite him in anymore and that it would be best if he let go of his attachment to the house. Suggest any resources here, but any further notice of his presence should be addressed by authorities when you notify them of his trespassing.
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.
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