Dear Amy: My boyfriend is go­ing through a di­vorce. He and his ex-wife were to­gether 27 years. They have been liv­ing apart for 11 months. Ev­ery time he talks about

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Amy Dickinson Send ques­tions via e-mail to or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michi­gan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

some­thing or some­where he has been, he uses the word “we,” re­fer­ring to him and her. Amy, this hap­pens a lot! We (he and I) have only been dat­ing for a few months, but he still con­tin­ues with the “we” when re­fer­ring to his past.

We (he and I) have be­come quite se­ri­ous, so it does bother me. I have men­tioned this three times and I’ve tried to ex­plain why he shouldn’t do this with­out sound­ing jeal­ous (I am not). I re­al­ize they were to­gether a long time and I am try­ing to be very un­der­stand­ing. So what do I do to get through to him to stop the “we,” un­less it is about the two of us? How can I get him to say “I” in­stead of “we?” — From “We” to “I”

Dear “We”: Surely your boyfriend won­ders why the heck you don’t seem to un­der­stand ba­sic con­cepts con­cern­ing time, truth and lan­guage. When he went to the Grand Canyon with his ex-wife 20 years ago, this was some­thing “we” did, not some­thing “I” did. To re­duce a “we” to an “I” im­plies that he lived his en­tire life alone, and that his ex-wife was wait­ing in the car while he toured the Grand Canyon.

You are ask­ing him to de­flect and deny the truth about his life. He can’t do that, be­cause he was liv­ing his life with a former spouse, and the ex­pe­ri­ences they had were real. Even­tu­ally, the ex­pe­ri­ences you two have to­gether will be­come “We” mem­o­ries. I hope he won’t be shar­ing these mem­o­ries with a fu­ture girl­friend.

Dear Amy: My girl­friend and I have been to­gether for al­most two years. A ma­jor is­sue is her house. I have ter­ri­ble al­ler­gies and asthma; she has two cats and two large dogs that shed. I of­ten feel mis­er­able when I am there. I also feel hor­ri­ble for telling her how sick I feel.

I had not used my in­haler or taken al­lergy med­i­ca­tion in years, but have to use it now when I stay at her place. She has done some things to ac­com­mo­date my ir­ri­ta­tions, but aside from the al­ler­gies, her house is a mess. I feel like a jerk for say­ing that but I never feel clean when I’m there.

Hair is in the bowls in the cup­boards, the re­frig­er­a­tor and freezer, the couch has dog drool stains, the car­pet is stained and cat puke has dried and crusted on the stairs.

I try to keep my work clothes clean by stor­ing them in a plas­tic bag, but one day I found cat barf all down the pant leg.

She wants me to move in, but I am grossed out by her house. When she is not there I spend most of my time clean­ing, but when she is home it re­verts to how it was. We’ve tried dis­cussing this is­sue but she gets of­fended and em­bar­rassed.

I don’t know how to say I would move in if the house were cleaner, be­cause I would. — Al­ler­gic

Dear Al­ler­gic: Your health is on the line, and so you should be com­pletely frank: “I would love to live with you but I can’t live in your house, es­pe­cially when you don’t clean up af­ter the an­i­mals. Ev­ery time I get on top of it, the house re­verts right back to where it was af­ter I’m gone. I don’t want to clean up af­ter you and the pets in or­der to live to­gether; it is ag­gra­vat­ing my asthma and mak­ing me sick. Plus — I just don’t want to live this way.”

You know, of course, that the pets are not the (only) prob­lem. Many peo­ple man­age to have pets and live in a clean(er) en­vi­ron­ment.

If she wants you to move in, she should be will­ing to make some changes. Hir­ing reg­u­lar pro­fes­sional clean­ing help would be a start, but only a start.

Dear Amy: Thank you for en­cour­ag­ing “Over­pro­tec­tive Mama Bear” to be very cau­tious re­gard­ing the new “step-grandpa” in her kids’ lives. As the adop­tive par­ent of a child who was sex­u­ally abused by a new step-grand­par­ent, I sec­ond your ad­vice that par­ents must be care­ful re­gard­ing any adults who en­ter their fam­ily. — Been There

Dear Been There: There was a his­tory of sex­ual abuse in this fam­ily, fur­ther mer­it­ing this cau­tion.

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