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ASK AMY: Casual dater needs to find her missing person


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Dear Amy: I met “John,” who I thought was an evolved, caring, and understanding human.

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We’ve been dating for nine months.

We do not tell each other that we love each other, or talk about the future.

John is divorced going on two years, so it is understandable that he’s not in a place to commit and he doesn’t want to marry again.

John has a 9-year-old son, “Caleb,” who I’ve spent time with.

Caleb ignores me, doesn’t answer questions, and lacks manners.

John says he’s shy and takes time to warm up, which is fair.

I had a similar upbringing so I can empathize to a degree.

Lately, I find that I don’t enjoy spending time with them.

Are these signs that this is a casual relationship and works for now, or do I need to cut the cord and move on?

I want a partner. I hope to find my person, be crazy in love, have a healthy relationship, and possibly get married again someday (I’ve been divorced for 11 years).

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I’m either settling, or I’m learning how to not be so attached.

What are your thoughts?

– Casual?

Dear Casual?: First, “Caleb.” He is nine. Nine-year-olds can behave along a wide spectrum, but overall I’d say that a nine-year-old boy whose folks have split up and whose dad is bringing a new friend around would generally behave exactly as Caleb is behaving. You can assume that he gives his mother’s dates or partner the same business.

Every single moment his dad spends with another adult is one less moment spent exclusively on Caleb. And exclusivity might be what this boy craves right now.

Taking this on as a partner would require an extremely motivated person who is prepared to hang in there, possibly for years, befriending this hurting child and loving his father.

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No one would blame you for not wanting to take that on.

If you hang in there without the requisite “crazy in love” part, then you would be settling. “Crazy in love” is what gets you across the finish line in a family system like this.

Even if you believe you’ve forgotten what it really feels like to be in love, I assure you – when you finally find your person, you’ll feel brave enough that you’ll be willing to take on a roomful of angry adolescents in order to be in a family together.

I think it’s time to transition to friendship with John, and issue a “missing person” alert. He’s out there.

Dear Amy: We apparently live in a time of excessive self-marketing.

This is exhausting for me to be around.

Self-labelling to elevate one’s status, without earning a title through the hard work seems epidemic.

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As an example, a chiropractor calls herself a doctor. A hobbyist calls herself a photographer. A book club attendee proclaims himself to be a scholar of fiction. Words such as “amateur” and “avocation” seem to have slipped from our vocabulary.

I’d love to tell the chiropractor how my doctor/dad went to 14 years of medical school after high school.

But alas, my unsatisfying approach is to mute myself and leave them to their bubble.

The most successful and accomplished people I know are typically the most modest. I love to support and encourage others, but false advertising rips it for me. Any suggestions on how to respond, if at all?

– Buy One, Get One Free

Dear Buy One: Chiropractors can call themselves “doctors,” but they should not refer to themselves as “MDs.” In the broader sense, doctors are healers, teachers, or practitioners. In that context, chiropractors fit the definition.

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My own credentials are sometimes challenged, and my response is always the same: “I am an amateur.” To imply, claim, or passively let others believe that you have credentials you don’t possess is just … dishonest.

I agree with you that inflation is out of control.

All the same, there is a great wave of self-taught people attaining excellence in a number of fields. Credentials do not always confer competence.

If you encounter someone who does this, you could challenge them, but understand that language does evolve at a faster rate than humans do. Credentials are only part of the story.

Dear Amy: “Done Feeling Suspicious” wanted to break up with her cheating boyfriend – one more time.

Thank you for telling her that she does not owe him an explanation for breaking up again.

I say, let him wonder!

– Happily Single

Dear Single: This dude seems most likely to wander first, wonder later.

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