Q. A few months ago, I started casually dating “Robert.” We first met online.
Robert told me from the beginning that he had a very strict diet, didn’t drink alcohol, and paid close attention to ingredients in products that he used. I thought he was just an extremely healthy guy.
Robert recently told me that he has a degenerative disease, which will cause issues with his motor functions, speech, and vision. He thinks that he has another three or four years left of being able to fully care for himself, before he can’t do things like drive, or even walk. His condition is genetic, and he’d likely pass it down to any children he may have.
Robert is a sweet guy with a big heart, but we’ve only dated for about four months, and I don’t know if I want to sign up for years of being someone’s caregiver. I’m only 31, and I want to experience everything life has in store for me, including children.
I decided to end it with Robert. I started to pull back, and tried to make it obvious that I was losing interest. He apparently didn’t notice the signs, so I told him that I felt it was better if we just remained friends.
Amy, it’s like he didn’t even register what I said! He stills calls and texts daily, talks about how much he likes me, and about going on vacation together and meeting his family.
I don’t feel right ghosting him, so I respond to him, but I try not to make plans with him.
Amy, I really think he’s looking for someone to take care of him. I don’t want to hurt him or be cruel, but how do I make a clean break?
A. From your reporting, “Robert” has been very candid and upfront with you. He has actually said the words — out loud — that give you a pretty complete understanding of who he is and what he is dealing with.
You have every right to break up with him — and I agree with you that you should. You obviously have no intention of staying with him, so don’t you think he deserves to hear the truth from you?
Hinting, pulling back, avoiding, saying, “Hey, let’s remain friends” isn’t working with him. Because when you say, “Let’s remain friends,” he believes you are being honest (you are not), and he thinks, “Great! We’re friends now, and so yes, let’s remain friends!” Stop wasting his time.
Tell him, “I’m breaking up with you. I appreciate your honesty, but I find your health challenges overwhelming. You are a great guy, and I hope you will find the right person to be with, but I’m not that person.”
Q. My dad’s wife (not my stepmother), whom he married when I was in my 20s, has always hated me. Amy, she hated me from Day One.
I figured her animosity toward me is because I am a reminder to her that he had a life before her. She is also only 10 years older than I am.
Her latest attempt to mess up my life is to try and seduce my boyfriend.
What should I do?
We all live together and both of them work from home.
Sick and Tired
A. Move out.
Your father is an adult; he has made a choice that seems hostile toward you, because he has brought a disrupter into your life (and into his household).
But — guess what? It’s his life, and (I’m assuming) his house.
You are at least well into your 20s. The beauty of adulthood is that — just as your father has done — you, too, can change your life by making concrete choices about where (and with whom) you will live.
Q. “MeToo!” wanted to reply to a “happy birthday” e-mail she received from a doctor — a man who sexually abused her years ago when she was a teenager. Thank you for giving her the words to say in her reply to him.
This line especially stood out: “Mainly, I want you to know that even though you victimized me at a young age, your sexually aggressive and criminal behavior toward me does not define me, but for me it will always define you.”
A. I come from a long line of pithy note-writers, with a special shout-out here to my late mother, Jane, who was a one-liner wrecking ball.