|By Amy Alkon|
When Hurry Met Sally And Wail Watching
Q: I planned a cross-country trip to introduce my girlfriend of five months to my family. She just sprang on me that she wants my family to meet “all of” her, which includes her 9-year-old daughter. My family knows she has a child, and I really enjoy her daughter, but I’m really not ready to introduce both of them. It would suggest that I’m taking on the role of a father, that she’s important to me, that I’m ready to care for her, and that they should accept her as part of my life. I’m okay with their meeting the daughter later if our relationship progresses, but it’s still so new that we haven’t even had our first big argument yet. Is it okay for me to first want to love the woman and decide whether she’s the one? Is it a warning sign that there are already issues regarding her child?
—Dating A Package
A: It would be clear you were in the wrong place if you’d spent the first date brimming with child-loathing: “Kids require a total commitment for 18 years — or maybe 13, if you can get them to run away as teenagers.”
Q: My girlfriend cries quite easily — over being sick, work getting frustrating, or even our evening plans going awry. I feel the crying makes a small problem bigger, as everything becomes all about her emotions and not the problem. I try to comfort her, but when she starts crying, it’s very hard to talk or reach her at all.
A: If you can’t stop the rain, you might just make the best of a bad situation and position your girlfriend over your Slip’N Slide. As for why she’s so often inconsolable, it may be because her tears are, in part, a cry for more attention from you. Holding back on giving it, like those parents who let their babies scream their little lungs out all night long, is exactly what you shouldn’t do, according to “the dependency paradox.” Social psychologist Brooke C. Feeney, who coined the term, found that in a committed relationship, the more a person feels they can count on their partner to be responsive to their calls for comforting and support the more independent that person can be. So, for three weeks, try being much more affectionate and caring — and not just when she’s crying. Maybe even give yourself a quota of three out-of-the-blue shows of affection per day. When she does cry, don’t try to “reach” her, except to hold her in your arms and let her sob into your shirt. Postpone any discussion till the storm subsides, tempting as it is to get right in there all guy-like and solve things — taking her, weeping, to Home Depot and calling over a salesperson: “‘Scuse me, sir…got anything to fix this leak?”
Advice Goddess Radio (“Best Of” replay): Dr. Peter Gray on why play and principles of democracy are the key to kids’ learning.
It’s Amy Alkon’s Advice Goddess Radio — “Nerd your way to a better life!” with the best brains in science solving your love, dating sex, and relationship problems. Listen live every Sunday — http://www.blogtalkradio.com/amyalkon/ — 7-8 p.m. PT, 10-11 p.m. ET, or listen or download at the link, at iTunes, or on Stitcher.