Q: I am about to marry a man with a wonderful, smart, kind 13-year-old daughter. She is a strict vegan because her mother became one in the last year. Although it’s presented to her as a “choice” by her mother, it’s not much of one. The mother doesn’t allow any nonvegan foods.
I’m a lifelong vegetarian myself, but I intensely disagree with this diet. His daughter readily admits that she likes eating things like cheeses and cakes, but insists on restricting herself, even when she’s at her father’s house and away from her mother. On the rare instances she decides to bend from her diet, she calls her mother beforehand to ask if it’s OK. I believe she might be developing food-control issues.
I’ve tried talking to her about it but she is very sensitive and defensive about the issue. How do my fiancé and I deal with this?
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A: By not becoming yet another foil in her quest for control. You’ve made your case for cheese, and it didn’t work. At this point, the more you resist her, the more resistance she will have to summon to oppose you; you become part of the problem.
Instead, become her ally in healthy eating. Have your fiancé talk to his daughter’s pediatrician about her nutritional needs, stock the house with vegan foods, practice some recipes. When she consistently leaves your home both well fed and gently supported, she’ll walk away with a subtle education on having a healthy worldview as well.
Q: How acceptable and effective is it to tell a man with a girlfriend that I have feelings for him? I don’t want to be his other lover; I want him to call me when he is available.
Is the right time only when he’s not attached, or is there a tactful way of telling him even when he’s with someone?
Single in the City
A: It’s a pretty sure bet that you’ve already “told” him, through looks, attentiveness, touch. Forgetting we’re all just animals doesn’t mean we stop acting like them. Of course, I can’t promise he “heard” you.
The right time to use words to express your feelings is when he’s not attached. Imagine being committed to this guy. Now imagine he’s out on his own, at the gym, at work, normal stuff. Now imagine he’s being briefed by some random other woman about his options. Now imagine she’s tempting. Even if he declines her offer, you won’t think too kindly of her or her tactics.
People in good relationships certainly don’t feel pressured to watch their backs, no matter how many people are queuing up to replace them. However, it’s a matter of common decency for others not to start queuing up in the first place.
There is an exception, which role-playing also reveals: Would you want to be married to someone who was secretly aching for his ex, his near-miss, or best friend? If you’re that near-miss or best friend, then you need to speak up at any point you develop romantic feelings for someone who has always had feelings for you. Maybe not after he’s legally enmeshed with someone else — there is still a point where decency has the last word — but certainly at any point up to houses, kids or “I do.”
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