DEAR CAROLYN: My mother-in-law wants my 5-year-old to sleep over at her house. The problem is that even though she has been living with the same man for several years and my husband and I think he is very nice, we still don’t feel comfortable with our daughter sleeping over at her grandmother’s house with him there.
We have offered to let my mother-in-law spend a night at our house, but that isn’t a good enough option for her. She told her live-in that we thought he was a child molester and now we have an estranged relationship with him and her. How can we repair the relationship without giving in to her demands?
DEAR INSULTER: You can’t, and please don’t.
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You’re not in this spot because you implied Grandma’s boyfriend is a child molester. You’re in this spot because Grandma wouldn’t take no for an answer. She applied enough pressure to force you either to make up flimsy excuses or admit something you’d rather have left unsaid.
Your reservations about Grandma’s boyfriend are so devastating that there was bound to be some strain whether your mother-in-law pushed or not. But even if your discomfort was entirely unfounded, refusing the overnights was your only choice.
. Trust that your mother-in-law put her feelings and ego and need(iness) above your fundamental entitlement to decide what’s best for your kid. Her error has cost you dearly, too, I get that, but better that than the much higher possible price of overruling your gut.
DEAR CAROLYN: I have a friend who has said things about my husband (I am newly remarried) that make me uncomfortable, such as, if she wasn’t married, she would be with my husband and that they have a “special bond.” She also told me when I first started seeing him that I should tell her what he’s like in bed because she has always wondered.
I told her I wanted her to stop because it made me uncomfortable, and she told me she has never treated him as anything but a friend.
I know I can be overly sensitive, but I find myself not liking her much anymore.
DEAR S.: I think when someone’s that far over the line, the line can file a missing-person report – but that’s based on your version of events, my values and zero context, so it’s of little practical use.
Fortunately, you don’t even have to make that call. Where we don’t trust our sensitivities, we’re often solid on our likes and dislikes. “Not liking her much anymore” is game over because a friendship without fondness is a lake without water.