Re: Modern Love: I Need My Space Case Edition

1

The chronology was hard to figure, but it seems she didn't let herself get sold on living with a guy until her daughter had gone to college.

The whole vacation in Tuscany seemed to be missing some information. Speaking of missing info, she never made it clear—except as a way of breaking it off—that she was not looking for a life partner.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 1:56 PM
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That's an odd use of "vintage."

The article was strange. All of the men she dated seemed to be nice and to really like her and her daughter, and she dropped them not because (as I expected) they didn't like her daughter or resented the time spent or wanted something incompatible with having a kid, but because they liked her enough to propose moving in together or marriage.

I think I read the phrase "throwing away happiness with both hands" in Gone With the Wind and it seems to apply here.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 1:59 PM
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This was one of those rare ML essays where I suspected the author was generally more happy and together than the constraints of the form allowed her to show. She loves her daughter, she could apparently afford to raise her in some degree of comfort, she found interesting and loving men to date, and she eventually ended up with one of them.

She's not perfect, she's kind of grating in a few ways, but aren't we all? Eh. I didn't mind this one.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 2:01 PM
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"The Taming of the Shrew"


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 2:31 PM
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Is she denying herself basic happiness? It seems like the entire point is that she was perfectly happy without getting married/moving in together, and that the piece is about the difficulty of finding a guy who understood that.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 2:43 PM
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Right: she was dating guys that she wanted to interact with on a very limited basis. She didn't want a husband, or a roommate, or someone to give her good advice about vacations. And then finally she met someone who talked her into accepting more involvement, but the point of most of it was that she had trouble conveying that she was contented with her life as it was, and with men for non-central socializing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 2:49 PM
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She avoided relationship until the tragic ending.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 2:57 PM
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I think the point isn't so much that he talked her into more involvement as that he accepted the limitations she put on the relationship--as she says, he "reconcepted." Seems to me like his ability to take "no" for an answer without deciding to dump her makes him the best candidate for living with; given that she enjoyed her life with her daughter, had men she dated along the way, and found someone who respected her boundaries around the time she started thinking that since her daughter was going to college maybe she'd be willing to live with someone else now, means she did everything exactly right.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 2:59 PM
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Except that it wasn't a very limited basis. What was weird is that the reason she didn't want a husband, or roommate, or whatever, wasn't explained. Not that everyone has to want that, but it seemed an odd omission given that she didn't seem to have a problem with them wanting to be involved in her life.

She seemed worried that it would change things, but I'd be curious to see what specifically worried her about a more permanent relationship. The men seemed to want to be involved in their lives, and she didn't have a problem with them staying over and hanging out with her daughter. None of them were jerks.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 2:59 PM
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I found this one weird -- it felt very much shoehorned into the form, where the author had to make things out to be more cinematically and passively problematic than it seemed like they really were. The men are reduced to a series of silly non-entities. Time after time, swains just happen to her, then they happen, one and all, to want too much, until one is finally cunning and well timed enough to remake his desires so they don't set off the machinery of her rejection, and eventually poof! It's a few years later and she finds herself (through no action of her own) in a post-kid happy relationship.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 3:06 PM
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9: Oh, that makes perfect sense to me. There's a huge gap between enjoying spending time with someone and being willing to cede some portion of decisionmaking authority over your life to them, and you can't live with anyone without ceding some decisionmaking authority. Even taking vacation advice -- once someone's given the advice, you have to either take it, have a good reason for not taking it, or be willing to offend.

Now, most people want connection and warmth enough that the autonomy loss doesn't seem like a problem, but the idea of it being a problem makes perfect sense to me, especially once you've got a kid in the mix.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 3:07 PM
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9: Why does it have to be explained? She likes her life the way it is. That's not enough? A guy has to be a jerk for a woman to say "no thanks, I don't want to get married"?

(That said, RFTS is correct: the problem with the piece is that the author seems oddly passive in it, which I chalk up to her following standard ML format, and trying to shoehorn her story into the "until the Right Man came along" format, rather than the "until I was damn well ready to get married" format.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 3:16 PM
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I didn't quite get the timeline, but it did seem as though she had a somewhat unhealthy attitude toward her relationship with her daughter. I don't think she needs to want a man to live with her, but I do think that her life seemed overly child-centric. It bothered me that she was still sleeping with her daughter when she was dating the rock star dude. (Now that I try to count it out, it shouldn't, but it fits with my own narrative--I'm as bad as the MSM!)

She seemed to be using her daughter as a substitute for adult relationships. It sounded like a bad deal for both. Comfortable and easy perhaps, but not ultimately healthy.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 3:24 PM
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What was weird to me was this paragraph:

Who would be willing to put up with our monklike silence on nights and weekends while Sophie did homework? Who would tolerate my need to drop plans on a moment's notice to spend whatever free time I could with her during the few years I had left?

... because based on the anecdotes, this wasn't the problem at all.

Also: the few years she had left?


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 3:32 PM
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Before Sophie left on her decades-long journey to Alpha Centauri with the rest of the Earth's children, mrh.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 3:34 PM
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I was entirely sympathetic until this:

"We don't eat venison. We couldn't eat a murdered deer."
Which renewed my loathing for Modern Love and everything it stands for.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 3:36 PM
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I laughed out loud at the final twist. Reading it, my impression was that she was pathologically afraid of commitment, and she deserved someone who would lie his way into her life. (Very cute lie.) Upon consideration, I go with the comity-like presence here: she actually wasn't that bad but tarted up her tendencies to seem pathological enough for ML.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 3:38 PM
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12: Yes, B, I was arguing that women have an obligation to marry anyone who asks them as long as they're not repulsive.

What struck me as weird is that the Right Man (the guy she is currently living with, so at least Mr. Right Enough) did come along, and Whatever Unexplained Thing About Her Relationship With Her Daughter That Would Be Lost was so important that it meant Mr. Right Enough had to be put on hold until her daughter was out of the picture, but not important enough to explain.

So that says to me that it wasn't that she Liked Her Life The Way It Was, but thought her daughter couldn't handle the change For Some Reason, presumably even throughout high school. Like I said, given that the guys seemed to be pretty nice and going along with her arrangements, I would have appreciated an explanation of what it was she feared losing.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 3:39 PM
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The above seems reasonable in this being written more dramatically than it is. But what's with the first passage of trying to keep him from watching a movie? It's not like either of them is meant to be helping the kid with homework at that point. "You must do exactly what we do, even when we're not interacting!"


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 3:40 PM
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"We don't eat venison. We couldn't eat a murdered deer."

jeebus.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 3:42 PM
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19: I dunno, that makes sense to me as a way to convince the kid to work, i.e. "Now is study time. See? Nobody is doing anything else fun. Studying is everything going on."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 3:47 PM
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But, yeah, she also was accentuating the crazy as per the ritual humiliations demanded by the Times.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 3:48 PM
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Yeah, the relationship with the daughter was weird. "I'm going to cherish every minute, and no one can watch movies" is one step away from Mommy Dearest.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 3:53 PM
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The daughter is also weirdly absent, considering her supposedly central role.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 3:55 PM
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The skeezier quotes:

And even with my shorts on I'd be naked for what I have to say

He broke into a verbal instrumental with percussive kisses

I began to confront the fact that our long sleepover party would soon end


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 3:57 PM
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24: if the signifier were to express it's own goals or motivations, it would cease to effectively signify.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 3:59 PM
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Haha, it's! LB can you redact 26?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 3:59 PM
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Dude, seriously. Everything must be silent in the house while Sophie does homework! Even though she's in fucking ninth grade? I must spend all my free time with her!

Although I guess I shouldn't much talk--my dad claims that he didn't date because he was "too busy raising kids." But given that he's been kid-in-the-house-less for seven years, and still hasn't done any dating, I think there was something else going on.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 4:00 PM
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Sifu, you tart little subaltern, you'll take the grammar errors and like them!


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 4:01 PM
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Some deer willingly lay down their bodies so that others may dine. The flesh from such a deer is beyond compare the most succulent and delicious.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 4:04 PM
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the few years she had left?

Before her kid went away to college.

Yes, B, I was arguing that women have an obligation to marry anyone who asks them as long as they're not repulsive.

Obviously you weren't, but come on; "none of them were jerks" isn't relevant to whether or no she didn't want to marry them, surely.

I think that it's really impossible to tell from the piece if this is a case of "freakishly overinvolved parent" or "woman who has a great relationship with her daughter." It really does feel to me more like the latter, but like RFTS says, the daughter is weirdly absent, so it's hard to tell. (The absence could be standard-variety ML form, or it could be, you know, b/c the mother wants to protect her daughter and conceives of this as a piece that's more about her than it is about her daughter.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 4:04 PM
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Everything must be silent in the house while Sophie does homework! Even though she's in fucking ninth grade?

I dunno. Why not, if the basic living situation is that the mom lives with the kid? Kid does homework, mom enjoys the quiet time. What's the problem?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 4:06 PM
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31: I would think that one wouldn't marry a jerk and that it indeed would be a consideration.

Still, she wasn't breaking up with them because they were violating one of the Sophie-centric rules. One of them seemed to be okay with the co-sleeping arrangement. And she clearly did want to live with the one that stuck around... so, what gives?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 4:07 PM
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The guy was going to watch the movie in the bedroom. Nobody else would have heard him.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 4:08 PM
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33: What gives is what she said in the article: once her daughter was approaching college age, she was okay with a guy moving in, because what she'd enjoyed before--living with her daughter--was going to change anyhow.

34: Depends on the arrangement. Plus, if the point is that it's *her house* and it's homework time for her daughter, then having a guest--even a boyfriend guest--say "I'm going to go watch tv in the bedroom" seems weird. Either it's time for him to leave, or else he can sit around quietly and read or something. Would it seem weird to you if your non live-in boyfriend were over hanging out, and said "I'm going to go watch tv in the bedroom" while you were doing something else--say, making dinner? It would me.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 4:17 PM
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Some deer willingly lay down their bodies so that others may dine. The flesh from such a deer is beyond compare the most succulent and delicious.

This is why I always go deer-hunting in the Valley of the Shmoon.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 4:28 PM
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35.1: And that's what struck me and Becks as weird. Maybe it's just an artifact of the ML format, but it seemed like any change would have meant The End of the relationship. Which seems a little weird without some more backstory.

I know plenty of people who had kids and remarried, or had kids, divorced and decided they couldn't handle dating and parenting.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 4:30 PM
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Would it seem weird to you if your non live-in boyfriend were over hanging out, and said "I'm going to go watch tv in the bedroom" while you were doing something else--say, making dinner? It would me.

No, not if the thing you were doing didn't require interaction with him. What is he supposed to be doing while you and your daughter are both doing things alone without him?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 4:32 PM
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I'm pretty much with B on this. She seems to have worked out pretty good arrangements at the various points along the way. She certainly favored her daughter over the various guys, but that's the way it should have been. She may have deliberately avoided getting into a "serious" relationship while her daughter was at home, but I'm bviously cool with that. Maybe she sensed at the time in each particular case that if that relationship had been permanentized and normalized, the hamer of Relationship would have come down, and that a lot of the special arrangements she'd worked out in her life (including those with her daughter) would have been threatened. (The famous "Now that we're married, we should...." transition -- which should be famous, if it isn't).

It's very common for children to lose when the new spouse shows up, sometimes disastrously. Even in the most ideal cases marriage and family-raising are pretty difficult, and step-parenting and family-merging are a notch more difficult.

Parenthood changes your life in ways you couldn't have imagined, and so does divorce. Often you find out that you're just going to have to give up a lot of stuff you'd taken for granted.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 4:32 PM
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What's bugging me about this discussion is the underlying sense that there's something "weird" about a woman living with her daughter, being perfectly happy, and not wanting to get married or let a man move in with them. What the heck is wrong with that? Why do we jump to the conclusion that she's "denying herself happiness" or that she's Joan Crawford?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 4:37 PM
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Man, this article reminded me a lot of when I started dating Max. His boys were 3 and 5 at the time, and after a really traumatic end to his marriage (she cheated, flaunted the new bf in front of the kids, humiliated Max in front of them, etc.) he was totally an open wound. He didn't introduce me to the kids for six months (fine by me), and he still slept in their bed until they were 5 and 7. I stayed over a few times after I met them while they were there, but it just made Max feel horrible, like he was betraying them. They liked it, having another adult around, because it meant they could each be doing different things with each of us. But it stressed him out terribly. Was I there to entertain him or to entertain the boys? When I was there, was he paying them enough attention? Was he paying me enough attention? If I was around too much, they asked when we were getting married and when I was moving in (never and never).

Was Max obsessed with his kids? Yes, in a way that often looked really emotionally needy and controlling. But that's how some people come out of divorces. They begin to realize that a partner is totally 100% expendable, and that their babies are all they really care about. They don't want to invest energy in a partner. I was like one of the guys in the article who barely notices he gets no affection or attention because he's so independent and busy, but that doesn't mean it's not still ridiculously stressful for the parent, or that it's not really draining for the parent's partner.

The kids, honestly, I think are fine. So they're a little over-loved and the objects of a lot of parental neediness. Best to learn all that early on in life, as long as it's not abusive. The author just seemed really familiar to me, and she's doing the best she can, not only by her daughter, but by herself.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 4:40 PM
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What is he supposed to be doing while you and your daughter are both doing things alone without him?

If he'd wanted to be part of the family, he would have sat and read his own book, and maybe would have helped the daughter with the homework if it happened to be in an area he was good about.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 4:40 PM
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I don't think that's it. It's not that the fact that she doesn't want to get married/cohabitate that's weird. If she were to just not date, no one would call that weird. But it SEEMS as if she is in fact looking for someone to marry/cohabitate with, or at least have a serious relationship with, but then rejects them all out of fear that it's going to damage her relationship with her daughter. I dunno. Maybe it's just ML "I must somehow make myself seem neurotic" standard-issue style.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 4:41 PM
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hmmm, she appears to have encouraged a succession of men to develop something approaching a father relationship with her daughter and then to disappear, which I kind of suspect might end up putting a niceish bathroom in some therapist's house over the years.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 4:41 PM
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Maybe it's just ML "I must somehow make myself seem neurotic" standard-issue style.

I would posit that this is pretty normal neurosis after a divorce. It's really hard to put all your romantic eggs in a new partner's basket when the only people who you know you can count on are your kids. I say we cut the lady some slack.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 4:45 PM
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in a way that often looked really emotionally needy and controlling

I get why people are worrying about this (e.g., 43). And I disagree with AWB that this kind of thing isn't bad for the kids, actually. But I'm not clear, from the article, whether this is what's happening, and I *am* kind of knee-jerk suspicious of presumptions that close parent/kid relationships are necessarily unhealthy. I guess I just don't really like the game of passing-judgment-on-the-ML-columnists, partly because I kind of like the sort of confessional writing that's bold enough to be (or at least attempt to be) self-revealing, and partly because a lot of the judgment seems to rely on pretty narrow expectations of what's "normal."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 4:48 PM
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I kind of like the sort of confessional writing that's bold enough to be (or at least attempt to be) self-revealing

I do too, actually, but I wasn't able to figure out exactly what was going on. Maybe if I was a divorcee or knew some I'd get it.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 4:50 PM
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Like the wise folk on the American frontier, Dsquared thinks that immediate remarriage is the best solution after a bereavement or divorce. His "succession of father-surrogate" problem might be something to think about, but I'm not sure I see it in the story.

It seemed evident that she didn't need to get married and didn't especially want to, and that she didn't especially want to marry any of the particular guys even though they were all quite OK.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 4:52 PM
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It's not the closeness. And like m. leblanc said, if the story had been her turning down dates from fabulous men because she didn't want it, no one would blink. Or if the men were presented as jerks that didn't want to have anything to do with her daughter, or if she figured that having a sexual relationship with a kid in the house was too much hassle, again no blinky. But she obviously wants a serious relationship, in fact takes the time to develop them, and then pulls the plug on them because of unstated concerns about her daughter.

It's not that I'm narrow-minded, it's just that the piece left me wondering why she wanted to hold back there. That might not be a flaw with her life, but it seems to be a flaw with the piece, which might be an artifact of the faux-confessional style.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 4:55 PM
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It's not that I'm narrow-minded, it's just that the piece left me wondering why she wanted to hold back there.

That her daughter developed early and is really, really hot?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 4:57 PM
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Fuck, I misread Cala's sentence. Joke makes no sense.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 4:58 PM
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That wouldn't explain why co-sleeping wasn't too intimate.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 4:58 PM
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she obviously wants a serious relationship, in fact takes the time to develop them, and then pulls the plug on them

Disagreed. She obviously wants a serious relationship and takes the time to develop it, and then balks when the guy says "let's get married/move in together." At which point he leaves.

It's not pulling the plug to want and enjoy a serious relationship, but not want to live with someone. Any more than there's something wrong with wanting to "move to the next step" (and after all, she doesn't criticize the men in her piece).


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 5:00 PM
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Usually, I'm all for hating on ML columnists, because I can't figure out what in the fuck their purpose in writing the column is, other than to mix metaphors extremely vigorously in the service of upholding stupid, bourgeois, and misogynistic stereotypes. This one I felt presented a perspective not often represented in the media, with some sensitivity and vulnerability. Also, I'm a sucker for reasonably clear writing, 25 notwithstanding. At least it's not the Love Train.

And fine, so the kid might end up a little fucked up about relationships. Who is perfect, in responding to a divorce and dating? It's not like she dragged crack addicts in off the street or something. And I felt like, for once, this ML column was about admitting that she was wrong, that she didn't really give people a shot, and that, in overprotecting her daughter, she was really overprotecting herself at her daughter's expense. By far the least horrible ML I've read.

The "murdered deer" thing was absurd, of course. People who eat meat as long as it's not hunted are idiots. People who only eat hunted meat at least make a certain kind of sense.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 5:01 PM
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And fine, so the kid might end up a little fucked up about relationships.

Unlike most people.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 5:03 PM
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This one I felt presented a perspective not often represented in the media, with some sensitivity and vulnerability.

I think it presented it from a substantial distance, which was problematic. It didn't feel confessional or intimate -- it felt cryptic and wrapped in thirty layers of fabric. The good: not offensive, stupid, obnoxious, or self-deluded. The bad: not particularly effective at communicating itself.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 5:04 PM
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I think that a moratorium on the word "healthy" in these discussions would be helpful.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 5:04 PM
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David Markson's "Healthy Kate" hereby incorporated by reference.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 5:09 PM
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56: I may be biased toward this woman, having been in the situation in 41. Divorced people with kids are, I'm sure, a diverse lot, but they can be a little schizoid about both wanting love for themselves and wanting distance, ostensibly for the good of the kids, but more likely out of self-preservation. And they know this is what they're doing, and they watch themselves do it, and they sometimes wish they could just throw themselves into a new relationship. That lack of actual vulnerability in the article seems to reflect, to me, the lack of vulnerability in her romantic life. She'd like to be confessional and honest, but can't.

This is an overly generous reading. I'm just very sympathetic to people who are responding to their gut feelings, but don't know what their gut is actually telling them or why.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 5:11 PM
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53: I haven't said wrong. I said unexplained, which I've put down mostly to the piece. And I think it counts as pulling the plug when you say 'no' to a marriage proposal. It's a pretty reliable way to end a relationship in most cases.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 5:12 PM
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It's not pulling the plug to want and enjoy a serious relationship, but not want to live with someone.

I agree with Bitch here.

I also find it interesting that the non-parents tend to come down on this woman. All these the same people who didnt want to be looked down upon for their non-kid lifestyles? Isnt this a similar grip?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 5:21 PM
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61: I'm a non-parent, Will, and I've got her back. And I've even been burned by someone in her situation, but romantic rejection is small beans compared to the divorced-person's confusion about needing to feel secure and loving and loved.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 5:24 PM
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Hi AWB.

I didnt read the article or most of the comments. I just wanted to write something like Maxim's review of the Black Crowes.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 5:28 PM
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this ML column was about admitting that she was wrong, that she didn't really give people a shot,

This thread is about rejecting her admission that she was wrong, which is curious.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 5:31 PM
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AWB, do you know M/rtha M/dell? You should go hang out with her.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 5:33 PM
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You skip the one about marrying a Republican who finally decides to vote for Obama, and link to this? Bahhh. This was boring, smug, and self-satisfied, a big who cares. Blandly written too.

She didn't bother revealing any angst at all. The standard ML of course reveals way too much, but still, what's the point of a romance column without at least some?


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 5:36 PM
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65: Oh wow! I know the name, actually, from the academic community, but I don't think I've met her. How exciting for her! Homes around here have become impossible for anyone without an enormous inheritance.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 5:38 PM
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I hope she appreciates the impenetrable cipher of combined googleproofing and misspelling.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 5:48 PM
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56 gets it exactly right. So much seems left out that any judgment is going to be full of conjecture.

Also, I'd like to thank potchkeh for pointing out the movie Peter's Friends. Saw it last night; very well done. (Part of it is about an overprotective mother, but bears no resemblance to this thread other than reminding me to mention it here.)


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 5:55 PM
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Terrence Rafferty was not fond of that movie.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 6:01 PM
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sorry: no t fond.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 6:02 PM
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I liked this Modern Love better the first time around, when it was 153 episodes of Gilmore Girls.


Posted by: ed bowlinger | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 6:22 PM
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I'm not about to reread the article to find this out, but isn't she living in like a one-bedroom? Cramped living space does change the equation. I'd be cranky if my newish boyfriend wanted to ditch the quiet group activities and go watch a movie in the other room.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 6:51 PM
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Way back at 1: Speaking of missing info, she never made it clear--except as a way of breaking it off--that she was not looking for a life partner.

I think I'd be a little less than happy with someone who didn't make "no partners!" clear fairly early on. The problem with that kind of behavior (I want to call it prevarication) is that you're probably roping in candidates for sex and romance who'd otherwise decline to hang around long if they knew there was no way, no how, it would be allowed to develop into anything more serious.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 7:18 PM
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Another tale of a damaged person taking their kid along for the ride. Fantastic.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 7:26 PM
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75: I don't see that at all. She was dealing with her situation.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 7:30 PM
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That dynamic with the daughter was fucked up. What 23 and 44 said. The having the kid sleep in your bed, the deer thing, the breaking up with one of the guys over the phone from Italy, then putting the daughter on the phone "How precious, she's tying to change the subject just like Mommy. Let the perpetual sleepover continue!", etc.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 7:38 PM
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who'd otherwise decline to hang around long if they knew there was no way, no how, it would be allowed to develop into anything more serious.

People who are really into you rarely if ever believe it when you tell them this.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 7:41 PM
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I am surprised to discover that I really like Dizzee Rascal + UGK's "Where Da G's?".


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 7:45 PM
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Yeah to 74 and 77. PGD, she doesn't say she ever tried to warn them off. Just sort of let them find out what the deal was and, to a man, when they found out, they cleared out. As if they'd completely misunderstood what was going on.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 7:45 PM
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78: Possibly, but not relevant in this case: the writer didn't tell them this in the first place. Then seems -- what -- pained? impatient? that they haven't divined it. It's a little obnoxious.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 7:45 PM
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I'm guessing that, like most people, she didn't know what she wanted when she started, and both longed for and feared the development of the relationship into a cohabitation thing. Maybe she kept thinking that one day she'd be comfortable with them moving in, but never was. Doesn't mean she's a conniving bitch out to ruin men's lives or anything. Men do this all the time, too.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 7:47 PM
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79: you might want to check out Durrty Goodz, in that case.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 7:52 PM
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The deer thing is unrelated to everything else. The mother and daughter sleeping together is during kindergarten, not through the whole thing.

She did seem to be stringing the guys along, but is that unusual? I thought that was just normal relationship hell.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 7:53 PM
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Maybe she kept thinking that one day she'd be comfortable with them moving in, but never was.

Any hint she ever told any of them anything about this? It's not like she never got a chance to talk to them or anything. She just didn't, and they were surprised (apparently) by the turn of events. And didn't know they had to lie to her to get across the threshold.

Men do this all the time, too.

Yeah, and?


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 7:55 PM
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The mother and daughter sleeping together is during kindergarten

Not to get all anecdata, but IME this is pretty much always part of a larger fucked up dynamic with the kids.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 7:57 PM
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Yeah, and?

Normal relationship hell. People seldom seem to know what they really want, and when they're trying to be honest they rarely succeed.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 7:59 PM
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plus, like, being all super into your kids is a way to fuck them up, not make them happy.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 8:00 PM
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Not to get all anecdata, but IME this is pretty much always part of a larger fucked up dynamic with the kids.

Puhleeze.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 8:03 PM
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Whatever. Having your kids (assuming we're not tallking about a poverty stricken family in a shack) sleep in your bed when they're 6 and 7 is weird.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 8:06 PM
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86: Yeah, I'm surprised no one has figured out the obvious -- she didn't want a live-in boyfriend because he would inevitably find out that she was sexually abusing her daughter on a nightly basis.

(I mean, if you guys want to be so fucking judgmental, why not go for it?)


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 8:08 PM
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Kotsko is hilarious and bitch is totally right.

What have you people done?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 8:09 PM
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It's weird in the sense that it's not the usual thing in the US, yes. But you're trying to tell me that your kid never climbs in your bed after a scary dream?

Anyway, if you're divorced with a very young child, it seems reasonable to me that there'd be a lot less incentive to push the kid into her own bed, one, and that the kid might actually be rather comforted in a stressful situation by being allowed to sleep in mama's (or papa's) bed for a year or so longer than they otherwise might.

Also kindergarten =/ 6 and 7.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 8:10 PM
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Fine, I reread the article. It's totally a one-bedroom, but one with a fair amount of space in the living room. That means that the mom and the kid are sharing a bedroom for a long time. How she had boyfriends at all (let alone ones that stowed their underwear in her dresser), I don't even know.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 8:14 PM
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The daughter presumably spends some time at her dad's house?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 8:16 PM
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But you're trying to tell me that your kid never climbs in your bed after a scary dream?

Sure, once in a while when they were younger. But not 365 days a year, and I sure as hell wasn't describing my living situation with them as " sleepover party".

Also kindergarten =/ 6 and 7.

The first one, after Sophie and I struck out on our own 12 years ago, when she was starting kindergarten...But one night around 18 months after we met...

Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 8:17 PM
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95.---Maybe. It doesn't seem like it, though, from the way she's presenting the story. "Sophie and I struck out on our own..."


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 8:22 PM
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While I still think the story is missing some big expository paragraph (divorce? death of the dad? trauma? nothing at all except omitting some mundane details that make the whole thing cohere?), the co-sleeping thing didn't strike me as all that strange given the relatively recent "struck out."


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 8:29 PM
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97: Yeah, I didn't like that phrasing, as if little Sophie decided she'd had enough, too.

One thing I'm willing to grant is that divorced people can be really solipsistic, pretending that their own will is fused with that of their kids, and that they make all their decisions together. There's a lot being elided in this ML about (a) how the marriage ended, (b) whether dad was still in the picture at all, (c) if Sophie had so much as a breath of a thought not dictated to her by her mom. But these all seemed like potentially necessary elisions, given the format.

But please, she's a sexual predator because she sleeps in the same bed as her daughter? She's dangerously exposing her daughter to her not-forever boyfriends by them meeting and spending time together? Kids go through a lot worse than waking up with Mom's arm around their waists, or than doing homework with Mom's boyfriend in the house.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 8:29 PM
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semicalapwnt


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 8:30 PM
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I never go deep-sea sailing without my trusty sextant and semicalapwnt.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 8:34 PM
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Maybe if I was a divorcee or knew some I'd get it.

I think this is 100% true. Or at least a parent. I'm reading through the comments and I'm struck at how only like three people seem to see the author's approach as sensible, and it seems pretty solid an approach to me. I mean, I might personally consider getting married again, or shacking up, because I wouldn't mind having more babies someday. But even with that motivation, I'm very leery of the idea. Not because I plan to smother Rory or because I'm some self-sacrificing martyr who puts her every whim ahead of my happiness. But because a new housemate would want to -- quite reasonably -- have input into how the household would be run, and I don't want to have to compromise between what choices I think are best as a parent and what choices might be best as a partner.

The UNG was of the strong belief that the husband-wife relationship should take priority over the parent-child relationship. I gather lots of people feel that way. I don't. The ML author apparently doesn't. Under those circumstances, it strikes me as utterly prudent to draw the boundaries she did for the period she did.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 8:34 PM
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Does seem like a really close relationship in ways that I can't fathom (what kid really wants to spend all that spare time with their parent instead of friends?), but hey, whatever, so long as it works for them.

Not letting the guys know the full deal early on, and having it pulled out like teeth even after a number of months seems like the greatest fault. Even if the guys were fine with just dating and a limited relationship, they'd probably prefer not to get too close with the daughter if they knew they'd be turfed before too long.

In the end, she doesn't even say anything special about the last guy. It sounds like she just kept dating reasonable, kind and successful guys until finally one of them was around when her daughter graduated and she decided she wanted someone around the house.

And it seems that she's leaving something very important unexplained here:
"I knew the transition to an empty nest might be less painful if there were someone else around the house, but it was hard to imagine making that a reality when Sophie's and my life together had grown even less conducive to sharing with a man."

By high school, I wasn't even living in the house anymore. And the people I knew at other high schools just spent all the time with friends they could. How did their lives become less conducive to spending time with other people?


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 8:37 PM
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Divorced people with kids are, I'm sure, a diverse lot, but they can be a little schizoid about both wanting love for themselves and wanting distance, ostensibly for the good of the kids, but more likely out of self-preservation.

I'm not sure why the "ostensible... but more likely." I'm actually reading this (sort of defensively under the circumstances) as a curious variant of the self-esteem complaint you raised a few days ago. Why assume that trying to preserve a balanced distance "for the sake of the kids" is really just self-protective. Figuring out what is best for the kids is tricky and sometimes the conclusion drawn is one that involves some degree of parental sacrifice.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 8:41 PM
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a new housemate would want to -- quite reasonably -- have input into how the household would be run, and I don't want to have to compromise between what choices I think are best as a parent and what choices might be best as a partner.

Exactly, and God bless you if you try to settle this. I don't know how people do it. Even if Max and I hadn't been so very relationship-averse, it would have been impossible to imagine me living with them. I wasn't the kids' mother, and I had zero right to make decisions about raising them. And it wasn't my home, so I'd have zero right to colonize even a portion of the communal space for myself. I can't imagine what I would have done if I'd needed quiet to write my dissertation and I'd moved in. It would never be my right to say, "Quit enjoying your precious family time together; I need to read."

But if you decide the new partner is more important than your kids, as his ex did, it makes everything quite simple. He moved in with her the day she moved out of Max's house. He smokes a lot of pot, and isn't going to bother keeping it away from the kids, but he's her boyfriend, and that's who matters most. He decides what's appropriate to teach them and what he thinks they should act like, despite having no experience with kids.

Maybe it's a little better if the divorced parent moved into a new apartment with the partner? That way, you and the partner and the kids can each stake out your own space without feeling like someone is invading. It might even help with deciding what to do about the extraneous adult figure. If he has his own part of the apartment/house that's his, then you can still spend time together. I guess that's what the bf in the ML decided, too.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 8:44 PM
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But please, she's a sexual predator because she sleeps in the same bed as her daughter?

Aside from Kotsko's joke, no one is saying this. You said your ex did it for while, with a dynamic you described as

"Was Max obsessed with his kids? Yes, in a way that often looked really emotionally needy and controlling."

It's how this ML column comes across, and it's consistent with people I've known who do it.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 8:45 PM
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By high school, I wasn't even living in the house anymore. And the people I knew at other high schools just spent all the time with friends they could. How did their lives become less conducive to spending time with other people?

The mom is weirdly fixated on the daughter? Surely you jest!


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 8:47 PM
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So are we dismissing a loving mother-daughter long term lesbian relationship right out of hand? That seems wrong.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 8:50 PM
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104: Oh, I just meant that no one ever knows what the "right" thing to do by one's kids in that situation is. You go on gut and instinct, and it's hard to tell whether those reactions are "I'm protecting my kid!" reactions or "I'm protecting myself!" reactions. I think the latter is totally justified and important, absolutely. Divorces can be deeply disturbing and unmooring for the divorcée. But when the latter always gets interpreted as the former, I'm a little suspicious. Of course, I'm defensive, because I'm someone who put up with someone who was occasionally not just distant (fine!) but hostile (not fine!) to me out of some weird sense that he was protecting his children from confusion and dismay. But over and over again, his hostility to me proved to be the thing that caused his kids confusion and dismay, because they liked me and I was a part of their lives. Cutting me out, he thought he was protecting them, but they were like, "Wow, yet another person we loved taken suddenly out of our lives?" Being on the receiving end of the behavior in this ML really sucks. I've just been arguing that this kind of behavior is understandable, given the circumstances. And whatever I went through, I can barely imagine how much they went through first.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 8:52 PM
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swift, just because you've know dysfunctional people who let their kids sleep with them doesn't mean that allowing you children to sleep with you is inherently dysfunctional.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 8:55 PM
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||

Fucking fuck The Wire aaah stressful oh man

|>


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 8:57 PM
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Perhaps I shouldn't say this, but AWB, it sounds like this Max fellow kind of did a number on you emotionally.

This article was blah because the author just didn't want to reveal anything emotionally, which kind of goes against the grain of not just the ever-annoying ML but also the memoir style generally.

It's impossible to tell what's going on because she's just not interested in revealing potentially embarassing stuff. She's quite buttoned down and self-protective. I mean, just from the facts its obvious her description is hopelessly partial, but it's hard to say much more than that. Comment 56 already made this point well.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 9:04 PM
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I probably should have skipped this comment thread. Kotsko nailed it in 91 -- people can clearly get awfully judgmental of someone who was trying to balance an inherently unbalanced situation. I'm getting a good sense of some of the attitudes I have to look forward to when and if I ever resume dating in any kind of serious way. Or I suppose even if I don't. It's ticking me off.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 9:05 PM
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swift, just because you've know dysfunctional people who let their kids sleep with them doesn't mean that allowing you children to sleep with you is inherently dysfunctional.

Sure. But do you know a lot of people doing it? Normal, emotionally and mentally healthy people who have their school aged kids sleep with them every night?


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 9:05 PM
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113: Just don't write for Modern Love and you'll be OK.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 9:06 PM
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105: One of my close friends is dating a wonderful man who has a son. Everyone gets along amazingly well, but it's not an easy road to navigate.

Their situation is oddly why I had wanted a little more out of the ML article. I know why he doesn't want to get married; he's figured out how to be a dad and a boyfriend, and the thought of figuring out something else scares him.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 9:06 PM
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gswift how hard are you going to hammer the anecdata home before you remember what "anecdata" actually means? I realize this site is all about judging people based on scant information, but geez.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 9:06 PM
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Di, you see 'trying to balance' in her narrative? It looks to me like 'refusal to balance' -- which is completely legitimate, but shouldn't have come as relationship ending surprises to the guys she was getting pretty far down the road with.

You'd expect anyone you get seriously involved with to be honest with you about expectations and reservations.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 9:09 PM
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112: I'm fine, thanks. I don't think he is.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 9:11 PM
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Sure. But do you know a lot of people doing it? Normal, emotionally and mentally healthy people who have their school aged kids sleep with them every night?

Shortly after her dad (finally!) moved out, Rory slept in my bed every night for a few weeks. She still tries to negotiate it. You might dispute that I am "normal, emotionally and mentally healthy," but obviously any such implication is part of what pisses me off. My pediatrician slept in his daughter's bed every night for ages -- she was a bit insecure and wouldn't sleep otherwise. I obviously think he is "normal, emotionally and mentally healthy," or he wouldn't be my daughter's pediatrician. One of Rory's friends slept every night in her mom's room (different bed) for years because they didn't have any other space. Before he moved out, at one stage, UNG would have Rory sleep in his bed every night that was "his" night. In that case, I thought it was a fucked up dynamic -- in part because he'd put her to bed in his room even if she fell asleep on the sofa or in the car or whatever first. In part, surely, because my deep and abiding hatred for him decimates any chance of objectivity.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 9:16 PM
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Di, I didn't mean to make you feel self-conscious. My whole point in coming into this thread was not to make a big deal out of how "horrible" this woman was to her boyfriends. (112 makes it clear that it sounds like I'm feeling sorry for me, which is not true.) I think her behavior was probably misleading, and obviously directed by a sense of her absolute devotion to her daughter, and the pain of not knowing what the right thing to do is. But there is no right thing! And no matter what you do, assholes will judge you. My only point in talking about my experience is that it's shitty to be the partner who has no identity or will in the relationship. But what other way of organizing such a thing is there?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 9:18 PM
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Di, you see 'trying to balance' in her narrative? It looks to me like 'refusal to balance'.

I saw refusal to compromise the balance she had established. The idea that these poor men are somehow getting blindsided strikes me as off -- like B said above, she was happy with a certain level of serious in each of these relationships, when the men said they wanted to "take it to the next level," she let them know she didn't want that, they chose to walk away rather than keep things as they were. I mean, you can't really expect her to be offering a disclaimer on date #1 of the precise level of seriousness she is willing to accept. Most people (or at least some of us) just don't know that kind of thing so early and feel our way through. You might think your goal is to get married and discover over the course of dating that you just want to keep it light and fun instead. You might think you just want something light and fund and discover over the course of dating that you want more. Personally, I have issues with people getting too far ahead of themselves in trying to define where the relationship is headed.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 9:25 PM
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The whole thing is rather Gilmore Girls, except with doing homework in absolute silence rather than fast talking.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 9:28 PM
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gswift how hard are you going to hammer the anecdata home before you remember what "anecdata" actually means? I realize this site is all about judging people based on scant information, but geez.

Oh come on, it's not like I'm the only one who noticed the author is weird about the daughter, and I didn't make that judgement based off the sleeping arrangement alone. It was just one out of several things that happens to resonate with my personal experiences.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 9:30 PM
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What's bugging me about this discussion is the underlying sense that there's something "weird" about a woman living with her daughter, being perfectly happy, and not wanting to get married or let a man move in with them.

None of that seems particularly weird to me, though the format of the ML series tries to suggest that there might be.

The column does remind me of how I first learned about condoms. My best friend's father took his girlfriend, my best friend, and me to see The Buddy Holly Story and after the movie we went back to her house where his father gave us 10 bucks or so and told us to go get ice cream or something. After, when we got bored, we dug through the car's glove compartment, and when we found some condoms, my friend explained what they were. I remember sitting on the sidewalk blowing up condoms. (All of which would've horrified my own parents, so I never told.)


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 9:30 PM
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121 -- AWB, I wasn't directing the "judgmental" charge at you by any means! I'm just really annoyed at all the comments suggesting her relationship to her daughter is "unhealthy" and that the kid is going to be "fucked up" and so forth. Upon review, for about the last half of the thread, it appears that I am annoyed exclusively with gswift -- but others advanced the same position earlier on, too.

But yeah, I'm perhaps just a little protective of the single mom/lawyer getting second-guessed on the boundaries she chose to set for her own love life.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 9:34 PM
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husband-wife relationship should take priority over the parent-child relationship

I think that it's pretty hard to say anything sensible and generic about this balancing act, but everyone wants to because it's important and common, and talking about the details of one's own life is hard. But a useful conversation is a conversation about particular kids and particular parents.

Needy is ugly, but occasionally controlling is part of being a parent IMO. My household growing up was pretty messed up, and I am so thankful that my kid feels like he has somewhere to go after a bad dream or whatever.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 9:35 PM
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Shortly after her dad (finally!) moved out, Rory slept in my bed every night for a few weeks. She still tries to negotiate it. You might dispute that I am "normal, emotionally and mentally healthy," but obviously any such implication is part of what pisses me off. My pediatrician slept in his daughter's bed every night for ages -- she was a bit insecure and wouldn't sleep otherwise.

I totally get this. Really, I do. And via your anonymous postings on the internet, I deem you sane.

But seriously, doesn't "still tries to negotiate it" mean you don't let her now, probably because you don't think it's good for her to spend the next couple of years sleeping in your bed every night?

And stuff like, "my kid has a bed in my room because there's no space anywhere" is not what I'm talking about.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 9:36 PM
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This article was blah because the author just didn't want to reveal anything emotionally

Actually, the weirdest part was the point at which she says "we were in love" (I don't go back to the article to check the wording) ... and I don't know what to do with that, really. You were in love but you didn't want the guy to be a partner in your life with your daughter. Okay, it's true that it's often the case that love is not enough.

I suppose I'm just back to the fact that entering into actual in-love situations without feeling the need to be clear that it's never going to be a partnership is just ... I find it a little head-scratching.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 9:37 PM
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108: Sometimes I think SCMT is one of the few keeping the spirit of Unfogged alive.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 9:39 PM
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Gah, how did I end up arguing this weird issue tonight. I need to go eat. My wife had better not have the damn kids in the bed when I get home.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 9:41 PM
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my deep and abiding hatred for him decimates any chance of objectivity.

Speaking from my own experience of divorce, I would worry a lot more about how to navigate this emotional terrain with your kid then whether she sleeps in your bed, etc.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 9:43 PM
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Sure, Di. I wouldn't expect people to issue full disclaimers on date 1 or even for a while. What I see here, though, isn't that men wanted to change the status quo, she didn't, and they left in a huff. Rather, they misunderstood the status quo -- because, for example, she didn't tell them things like that she wanted to go to Italy just with her daughter until the last minute.

A guy who thinks they are on the way to the altar finds out that she's gone through the whole long process of setting up a trip to Italy and intentionally didn't tell him.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 9:43 PM
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131: As long as they're not your own, you're golden.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 9:43 PM
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OT, but this is the greatest fact _ever_. (Stolen from a commenter at Saiselgy's):

Unless I'm mistaken, National Review in the 1990s operated out of the same building that houses a rap magazine. I remember reading an article about this once. The irony was that the rap magazine actually made money, whereas the pro-capitalist NR depended on subsidizes from rich readers. The whole situation must have made for some awkward moments in the elevator.

Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 9:48 PM
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You were in love but you didn't want the guy to be a partner in your life with your daughter.

See, I don't find this so difficult to understand at all. "In love" is her relationship to the guy. Her relationship to her daughter and the relationship she envisions for him with her daughter are separate and important questions. It's one thing to make someone a part of your life, another entirely to make them a "partner" in your child's life. I honestly don't know how people handle that when they remarry and no remarrying seems like a perfectly sensible solution to that minefield.

I suppose I'm just back to the fact that entering into actual in-love situations without feeling the need to be clear that it's never going to be a partnership is just ... I find it a little head-scratching.

See, I'm totally on the opposite side from you on this. Were she to pre-emptively announce that she was never going to want to get married/move-in before the guy ever suggested that he'd want one of those things, it would strike me as exceedingly presumptuous. (1) Why would she assume that was what they wanted unless they said so? And (2) Why pre-emptively rule out the possibility before the subject has even come up? The article certainly doesn't give me the impression she has been dishonest with any of the men in her life -- she just wanted something different from what they wanted at a given time. It happens.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 9:51 PM
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But because a new housemate would want to -- quite reasonably -- have input into how the household would be run, and I don't want to have to compromise between what choices I think are best as a parent and what choices might be best as a partner.

It strikes me that your assumption -- at least in what I quoted -- is that any influence a potential new boyfriend or husband would have would be negative. And while I can understand why that would be, I'd just like to second what AWB was getting at earlier: parents' SOs/stepparents can be a very good influence in a kid's life. My parents both got involved with people who were pretty horrid to me, but 20 years after we met I'm still friends with my stepfather. Hell, I was his best man when he remarried.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 9:53 PM
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I honestly don't know how people handle that when they remarry

I think, based on my experience from the kid's point of view, the way you handle it is by making it clear to the SO that you are the parent and they're not, and thus that they have less authority over the kid than you do, and by making it clear to the kid that the SO *is* a part of the family now, and has the same rights as any other member of the family. (I also think that the kid has veto power over any potential SOs, but that's probably just my natural sense of entitlement.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 9:59 PM
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132: Um, thanks for the advice, PGD. That sentence was employing a literary device I like to refer to as "hyperbole." I mean, not that I don't hate him with a passion heretofore unrivaled in recorded history. But I'm actually quite objective.

137: No, I didn't mean to suggest a new boyfriend/spouse would necessarily be a negative influence. Just that it's a challenging proposition to integrate a new partner into your child's life. Some of what AWB talks about with Max is the kind of thing that weighs into it, as much as considering the effect of the new person on the kid. Personally, I would struggle with not wanting my kid or my partner to feel neglected, but we all have limited resources.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 10:01 PM
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And there's the rub, really. If you're divorced with kids and you want to fuck around in all the delicious ways you've been starving for, you find some hot slutty person with no regard to their potential to be future-SO, and you don't involve them with your kids. If you're divorced with kids and you want to find a new life-partner to marry and help you raise your kids and keep house with, you find a really decent, trustworthy person you can count on and who loves and is loved by your kids.

But what do you do if you don't want either of those extremes? And what do you do if you are aiming for the former, but they turn out to also be really decent and caring and good for you personally, though not permanent-SO-material? Or what if the totally decent upstanding person you've chosen to be stepparent turns out to be not so hot with your kids after all?

Point is, life is really difficult, and it's understandable that people don't know what they want. I'm the sort of annoying date who actually asks. If I like someone and want to see them again, I want to make it really clear what my boundaries, relationship-wise are, and I want to know what theirs are. Usually the response is, "What? Who asks that?" or "I dunno. Let's see!" I don't like "Let's see," because that means there's going to be a weird "Wanna move in?" moment where I have to remind them that I can't do that.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 10:04 PM
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The article certainly doesn't give me the impression she has been dishonest with any of the men in her life -- she just wanted something different from what they wanted at a given time.

I understand why you prefer the charitable reading. Mine is quite different on this point, but obviously it's easy enough to come to different conclusions from an intentionally opaque narrative.

My day is over. Auf wiederlesen!


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 10:05 PM
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A guy who thinks they are on the way to the altar finds out that she's gone through the whole long process of setting up a trip to Italy and intentionally didn't tell him.

Well, first, there's no indication she ever led him to believe they were "on the way to the altar." Not mentioning the vacation was a bit odd -- I read quite a bit into comment that she did so "to avoid feeling pressured," and cut her some slack.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 10:06 PM
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I'm the sort of annoying date who actually asks. If I like someone and want to see them again, I want to make it really clear what my boundaries, relationship-wise are, and I want to know what theirs are. Usually the response is, "What? Who asks that?" or "I dunno. Let's see!" I don't like "Let's see," because that means there's going to be a weird "Wanna move in?" moment where I have to remind them that I can't do that.

That's because for you, there are absolutely no exceptions imaginable to that particular rule, whereas for him, it depends on the person....right?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 10:07 PM
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See, I don't find this so difficult to understand at all.

No, I don't find it difficult to understand either; hence my "okay, it's true that ..."

Were she to pre-emptively announce that she was never going to want to get married/move-in before the guy ever suggested that he'd want one of those things, it would strike me as exceedingly presumptuous.

Not at all. You obviously don't announce things like that on date one, but once you've been seeing each other long and well enough to say that you're in love, you can (and should) certainly well say things like "You should understand that my relationship with my daughter is primary in my life, and I don't want to disrupt that; she and I are pretty much a solo operation for the duration."

Saying something along those lines isn't presumptuous, it's responsible, fair play. For the rest, we must be reading the article differently, because I got the sense that she was indeed preemptively ruling out anything more than a dating relationship with these men.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 10:09 PM
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143: Exactly. My point is, the fact that I get these totally baffled responses seems to show that this is not how people generally operate. They are very open-minded about the development of relationships, even the silly bad-choice short-term ones.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 10:09 PM
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I sure as hell wasn't describing my living situation with them as " sleepover party".

Hello, it's a lighthearted essay, in which the author is deliberately making light of a situation that she's portraying as "weird." Not from the "obsessed with daughter" pov, but from the "why couldn't I commit?" pov. Which I think is probably just because the "until finally Mr. Right came along, and I Grew and Changed and Learned!" format is the standard ML shtick.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 10:09 PM
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145: Caveat about anecdata and all that.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 10:10 PM
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I have to assume that she can't possibly be as annoying as she sounds in this article, or why would men keep coming into and staying in her life. Unless maybe she's absolutely beautiful or great in bed, or has tapped into a motherlode of male masochists. But the thought of her as a mother in law sends shivers to my soul.


Posted by: Gene | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 10:11 PM
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144: OTOH, by the same token, you know, the guys could, like, ask. And indeed, it does sound like the point is that when the topic finally came up and she let them know that she wasn't interested in "the next level", they bailed.

Alternately, this entire story is proof of why the traditional "romantic proposal" scenario, where the guy asks the woman and it's a surprise, is a really shitty idea.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 10:13 PM
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I don't like "Let's see," because that means there's going to be a weird "Wanna move in?" moment where I have to remind them that I can't do that.

That's actually the precise reason that sort of discussion annoys me. It comes off like you are assuming that you are so wonderful that obviously this person is going to want to wind up married to you. And that the other person is so unexceptional that there's no way they could turn out to be someone you might want to get serious with. Neither of wich assumption is fair to the other person.

By "you," of course, I don't really mean you, AWB, personally. I'm talking more in the sense of "you," the one guy I dated who blindsided me with this sort of discussion early on, while I was just trying to enjoy the get-to-know-you phase.

Clearly, AWB, based on this, you and I could never date. Well, based on this and your lack of a penis.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 10:21 PM
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"You should understand that my relationship with my daughter is primary in my life, and I don't want to disrupt that; she and I are pretty much a solo operation for the duration."

God, if that's what she's saying, I sure as fuck hope for her sake nothing ever goes wrong in her relationship with her daughter.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 10:21 PM
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If Unfogged were a two-hour movie, then by the end AWB and Di would be dating.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 10:27 PM
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It comes off like you are assuming that you are so wonderful that obviously this person is going to want to wind up married to you.

I know that's what it might sound like, but that's assuming a lot of ego without a lot of evidence. I like to put those things upfront because (a) I don't want someone to continue dating me if that's a narrative of development that's important to him, because I don't want to waste his time, and (b) most long-term relationships do tend toward cohabitation and/or commitment as a goal, whether either person is super-special or not. I don't think it's vain to say upfront that I'm not interested in enmeshing my life with someone else's. Not only extraordinarily genius perfect beauties get married. I don't mind long-term, really, and so I feel like some of the guys I've dated for a long time tend to feel tricked when I don't want to "take our relationship to the next level" or whatever, even though I've made my intentions clear.

But it's not like I date anymore, being aware of all this crap more than I used to be.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 10:29 PM
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Would that I were playing in the same league as AWB, but alas...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 10:31 PM
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153: In this case, I think it would have to come way up front, then. Like first date, when it's unmistakably clear that "it's not you, it's me."


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 10:35 PM
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151: Sure, that's exactly what she's saying. Look at the title of the article, "Me, My Daughter, and Them" (I believe).

149: by the same token, you know, the guys could, like, ask. And indeed, it does sound like the point is that when the topic finally came up and she let them know that she wasn't interested in "the next level", they bailed.

Now this is getting silly. The article doesn't say much about how much talking went on in the relationships with these guys, but as it stands, both they and she were not talking at all until BOOM, let's look at the housing classifieds, what say, let's get married. The guys were either completely tone-deaf, or they were making incremental moves toward that kind of proposition and she didn't say anything to dissuade them.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 10:37 PM
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155: Oh, I do. Basically, it's "Hi, I'm AWB! I hate it when people rifle through my belongings without asking as a way to express intimacy! Wanna make out?"


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 10:39 PM
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The guys were either completely tone-deaf, or they were making incremental moves toward that kind of proposition and she didn't say anything to dissuade them.

It seems like you are giving them, rather than her, the benefit of the doubt on the ambiguity.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 10:44 PM
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158: I agree with you, but you know, given that there are multiple guys and only one her, it *does* sort of make sense to assume that she's part of the problem.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 10:53 PM
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159: Eh, I'm still not convinced there is a "problem" for her to be a part of. She dated these guys, they said they wanted more, she said she didn't, apparently no one wanted to compromise what they wanted, everyone went their separate ways. And lived happily ever after, just not with each other.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 2-08 11:03 PM
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90" Whatever. Having your kids (assuming we're not tallking about a poverty stricken family in a shack) sleep in your bed when they're 6 and 7 is weird.

Not really.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 3-08 7:28 AM
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Normal, emotionally and mentally healthy people who have their school aged kids sleep with them every night?

You probably do too, Swift, but if they have any sense they wouldn't let you know about it. Lrd have mercy on them if they do.

Handling a divorce, especially a painful one, is very difficult if there are kids. Raising kids at all is difficult, but after a divorce it's usually much worse.

I am reminded of what Susan Faludi said in "Stiffed": feminist talk about "choice" is totally ineffective with a lot of people because, by and large, they don't have many choices. Their lives consist of duties and needs and little stolen bits of fun here and there, and often to have one thing means sacrificing some other thing. And it's not like choosing between a two week vacation and a new Harley. It might be choosing between your love life and your parental duties, knowing that you'oll have to skimp on one or both.

Once you have kids, your area of choice diminishes dramatically. If you're divorced, it usually diminishes dramatically again. (In this case, at least she didn't have financial problems). And you do the best your can, and if you have to get rid of your judgmental friends, that particular choice is easy.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 3-08 7:38 AM
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162: What I meant to say was "You probably know them too", not "You probably sleep with your kids too."


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 3-08 7:39 AM
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136: Seconded.

149: As soon as the guys said they wanted to get serious / married, she said no. There's not a lot of evidence that that card was on the table from the beginning. It seems as though she was being dated "on approval", with the assumption that if the guy wanted to get serious, she would. Whereas it makes more sense for both of them to decide once the question is officially raised.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 3-08 7:52 AM
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Boy, I'm totally with Di (and Emerson) here. First, sure she sounds a little weird, and less than totally fair to the guys she's dating, but her responsibilities to them are limited -- if they don't like her terms, they can walk away, and most do.

But her primary responsibility is to her daughter. And she thinks she's got a system going which is good for her daughter, which there's no particular reason to believe she's wrong about, and she's not willing to turn over control of her life in the way that you have to in order to live with or marry someone at the risk of screwing up her system. That shows that she lacks perfect faith in the guys she's dating, but if that's an error at all, it sounds like a much saner error than the more common alternative. (And she doesn't sound like she's worried about them being 'bad influences' at all -- just that she doesn't want them to be decision-makers.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-08 7:52 AM
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Wake up, folks!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 3-08 7:52 AM
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Wake up, folks!

Some of us are about an hour away from going home to cook dinner, you crazy old insomniac.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03- 3-08 7:55 AM
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Just have a microwave burrito and start commenting, gourmet motherfucker. You don't need that haute cuisine cordon bleu shit you pig out on.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 3-08 7:59 AM
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Has it occurred to anyone that gswift "doth protest too much"? I bet he/she slept in his/her parents' bed until age 18.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03- 3-08 8:10 AM
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169: Er, there is, IIRC, personal history with wife and stepfather. Not to tread on toes here. Swift's paranoia about sexual abuse has a foundation.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 3-08 8:16 AM
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OK, the point of this thread seems to be whether some woman has a right to her own life (and her child's) without deferring to the aspirations of some bloke she's shagged a couple of times.

Short answer: Yes.

Slightly longer answer: For as long as I can remember, the slightly unpleasant cliche has been that women cruise the dating scene looking for men they can bend to their will and turn into suburban zombies who conform to their idea of domesticity with all the individuality knocked out of them. Now here comes a woman who's pursued relentlessly by men who neatly invert that cliche, and she reacts by saying, politely, "No thanks".

And guess what, they don't like it up 'em, to quote a sitcom you won't recognise. Well, tough tittie. Setting aside the issue of the kid, which merely strengthens her argument, what is she doing different to the guy who doesn't fancy giving up his comfortable bachelor existence?

Footnote: the interests of a child should always take priority, even if it means you never have sex again. Not because they're America's little angels or any of that shit, but primarily because they're legally incompetant and not allowed to act in their own interests, even when they understand them perfectly well.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03- 3-08 8:19 AM
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The burrito did its work!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 3-08 8:22 AM
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You can't get burritos here. I've eaten them a couple of times in America, and on both occasions my reward was 24 hours of acute diarrhea. Aversion therapy works.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03- 3-08 8:27 AM
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Everyone has diarrhea the first nine or ten times they have a burrito -- but after that, it's all good.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03- 3-08 8:30 AM
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Life is too short to eat nine or ten burritos.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03- 3-08 8:32 AM
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Everyone has diarrhea the first nine or ten times they have a burrito

Uh, no. Only if, like Kotsko, out of sympathy with the proletariat, you restrict your food providers to those that are unsanitary. Otherwise, you should be all good right off the bat.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 3-08 8:35 AM
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173: on both occasions my reward was 24 hours of acute diarrhea

That is exactly what Emerson meant in 172. Creative bulimia.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 3-08 8:43 AM
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Whatever improves your productivity is good, OFE. Right now I have a very productive cough. I don't call it a cold, though, because it's not accompanied by any other symptoms except production.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 3-08 9:01 AM
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Lunch Life is too short to eat nine or ten burritos.

That's strictly dinner or weekend breakfast.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 3-08 9:12 AM
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Something's fishy. People who can survive on bangers and potted meat should handle burritos easily. Perhaps OFE bought his burrito from an unethical crack dealer.

Microwave burritos are completely synthetic, untouched by human hands, free of anything organic at all, and cannot spread disease.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 3-08 9:13 AM
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FWIW, I'm with Di, LB and B on this one. There *is* a lot of missing information here. But I don't see her choosing her school-age kid over prospective partners as prima facie evidence of a Problem, or as a sign that she must be leaving her own needs unmet. In fact, she seemed to be using her daughter as an excuse to fend off a committment she wasn't really interested in for herself anyway.

And of course if you already have a partner, maintaining that relationship is important -- but if the interests of that relationship and the interests of the kid create a deadlock, the kid wins every time.


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 03- 3-08 9:17 AM
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182: Microwave burritos are completely synthetic, untouched by human hands, free of anything organic at all,

Like I said ... creative bulimia.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 3-08 9:20 AM
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Microwave burritos are completely synthetic, untouched by human hands, free of anything organic at all, and cannot spread disease.

They also aren't food, by any reasonable definition. So there is that.


OFE just had bad luck or an inflexible tummy though; burritos can be excellent and, as Sifu notes, shouldn't be any trouble unless you go looking for it. Like most food. In general, street food is best primed by enough alcohol to kill off anything short of you (and only just sort of that). Tastes far, far better then too.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03- 3-08 9:21 AM
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What am I noting, now?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 3-08 9:29 AM
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Microwave burritos can have very negative results.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03- 3-08 9:29 AM
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Adam is a weenie. Everyone's a weeny. He probably doesn't know how to microwave effectively.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 3-08 9:33 AM
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184: Whups, it was SCMT in 176. I must have got hung up on the S or something.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03- 3-08 9:37 AM
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Racists.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 3-08 9:38 AM
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