My ex-husband and I divorced 18 months ago. I tried to wait until our teenage daughter left for college, but I couldn’t. Recently, I decided to try the dating apps and met a nice man online. We texted for a few weeks; he was sweet and good-looking. But when we set a date to meet in person, he didn’t show up. That seemed odd, so I wrote to him again. No response. I was disappointed — then angry when my daughter told me that my ex-husband had created a fake profile and was pretending to be the man I was talking to the whole time. When I confronted him, he said it was a joke. I am really upset. What should I do?
Oh, I am sorry this happened to you! And I reject your ex-husband’s characterization of the episode as a joke or even a prank that went too far. He assumed a fake identity — with pictures and everything — for the sole purpose of deceiving you. Where’s the funny bit?
Now, I don’t know anything about your former husband as a person, but his behavior here seems cruel — intended to hurt you and prevent you from moving on with your life a year and a half after your divorce. Personally, I would limit contact with him to co-parenting. Don’t even argue about the catfishing; that only entangles you further. Be clear with him about your boundaries and don’t budge.
I am also concerned about how your teenage daughter experienced her father’s behavior. Circle back to her to discuss your intention to date if you haven’t done so already. Remind her, too, that online anonymity is no excuse for hurting people. (And next time, confirm the identity of online prospects over the phone or on FaceTime before investing energy in them.)
Oh, You Shouldn’t Have
My sister-in-law asked me if I wanted to buy their crib; their youngest child is moving to a bed. When I asked about it, she revealed that the crib was given to them by a friend, but it’s worth a lot of money, so she wants to sell it. I declined. It feels icky to me — trying to sell a gift. And it’s been bothering me. Should I say something?
I think you’ve already done the right thing for you: You passed on an offer that made you uncomfortable. In your sister-in-law’s defense, though, she owns the crib, and she can do with it as she likes: sell it, donate it or break it down for firewood.
I don’t think you should criticize her behavior. Seen through a different lens, it may feel “icky” to her that you expect her to give you valuable property for nothing. Or she may need the proceeds from the crib to buy her toddler a Hot Wheels. I’d let this one go.
A Dad Joke Gone Bad
I was diagnosed with cancer recently and had a catheter inserted in my arm. My son, who is training to be a doctor, has been helpful. Last week, I was at his house (I made a significant contribution to the down payment), and he flushed my catheter as my doctor directed. After he finished, I got a call from a friend and was chatting in the great room. My son asked me to move so he and his girlfriend could watch a movie. Jokingly, I told my friend: “I’m getting kicked out of the house I paid for.” My son got very upset and told me to find someone else to help with my catheter. This is a problem; I have a limited support group. We haven’t spoken since then. What should I do?
Apologize! We all make bad jokes, and I know you have a lot on your mind now. But your comment to your friend demeaned your son when you should have been thanking him for his help. He didn’t kick you out of the house, and you didn’t buy it for him; you contributed to the down payment. Why make your son feel small?
Another thing worth pointing out: The problem, according to your letter, is not that you hurt your son’s feelings, but that you don’t have anyone else to flush your catheter. I know you didn’t mean to hurt him, so try to be more sensitive. And good luck with your treatment.
Invited but Slighted
My spouse and I were invited to a wedding. Actually, I was: The invitation was addressed to Mr. John Doe and Guest. But the bridal couple has known my spouse and me only as a couple, and they’ve been guests in our home many times. My spouse, having been erased from the invitation, views this as a friendship-ender. I do not. Thoughts?
We all like to be acknowledged, so I get the sting your spouse felt. Absent a pattern of hurtful behavior, though, I urge your spouse to find the high road here. In the scope of wedding plans, this omission seems more like a typo than an erasure. The generous response, if you can both manage it, is to ignore the error. (Just add your spouse’s name to yours on the response card.)