TELL ME ABOUT IT
Should I invite my girlfriend along on a house- hunting trip with me, even though we have no current plans to live together? We’ve been dating for over a year and live in separate apartments, but I am looking to buy a house soon somewhere nearby.
On the one hand, I’d very much like her to come along, because I value her opinion and her judgment and I don’t want to shut her out of this process. On the other hand, I worry that inviting her along will create the mistaken impression that we’re heading for cohabitation. Any thoughts?
— Confused House Hunter
If you think the worst case is that you give her false hopes, then don’t invite her along.
To me, though, the worst case would be to overrule a genuine, flattering, thoughtful impulse to include her, just because she might misread it.
In fact, false hopes aren’t even my secondworst case, which would be to assume she’s eager to live with you when in fact she has no current plans for that, either.
That’s why, when in doubt, it’s best just to say no more and no less than exactly what you want her to hear — “ I’d very much like you to come along, because I value your opinion and judgment.” If you add, “. . . and I don’t want to shut you out of this process,” I think you are suggesting you envision her in this house with you someday — which is fine, but only if you really mean it.
She can still read just about anything she wants into your invitation, and you can both struggle to deal with that if it happens. But just because that might be hard, it doesn’t mean you should go to great lengths to avoid it ( see my worst case, above). A little awkwardness — or, even better, the absence of it — can tell a couple a lot about how well the relationship works. Dear Carolyn:
I am having baby No. 2 in a few months, and my mother and mother- in- law want to have a shower for me. I’ve never been to a shower for a second baby, and I really, really don’t want friends and family to feel obligated to bring yet another gift when we’ve received so much over the past two years for our first child. We are very well- stocked with the baby gear!
I explained this to my mom/ mom- in- law, and they still want to do it. I know they just want to do something nice for me. Should I stick up for what I think about this, or am I being an inconsiderate party pooper?
I think you’re being an extremely considerate party pooper.
Become a creative one, and maybe you can make everyone happy. Just because there’s a causal link between shower invitations and boxes of molded plastic doesn’t mean you’d be wrong to break it.
Ask your mother and mother- in- law for an ideas- not- gifts shower, where people write, in a card, their favorite recipe, storybooks or rainy- day distractions; or a family- feeder, where people bring dinners you can freeze for later; or whatever else you and the grandmas think up. Less work, less money, more love.