Dear Readers - Five months passed, as Covid-19 occupied our thoughts and actions. The relationship questions/stories that you sent me were about loneliness, or finding support, aiding others, or needing help.
Some determined singles managed to date safely, even found romance. Readers cared, worried over some accounts, wrote commentaries.
Now, your questions/personal experiences matter even more, due to challenges with school openings and more people returning to work.
I’ll be in step with you, writing and researching practical advice towards finding/keeping healthy relationships.
I’m a male 34, who’d like to get married but I think my five sisters have made that very difficult.
The older two sisters took on “mothering” tasks at ages nine and 10, when I was a baby and our mother went to work to help my father feed us all.
Those sisters monitored my homework, and chose my friends.
The three younger sisters alternated between dressing me up as their “doll” - encouraging neighbourhood kids to laugh at what I was wearing - and pushing me around to do their bidding.
To this day, the two older women still try to tell me how to live. They’ve critiqued all my choices - the course I eventually took in college, where I work, my apartment, etc.
I managed to grow up, graduate, get a decent job, and I’m a decent-looking guy. But even though I’d like to find love, just asking a female for a date makes me start sweating hours in advance.
I’ve tried online dating and it works for a few exchanges of texts, but then I can’t seem to make the pitch to actually meet in person. Not even for coffee and a chat.
All my younger fears come back… that I’ll be unable to hold a decent conversation, especially not with a woman I don’t know.
And that I’ll choose the wrong clothes - either too casual like I don’t care or too formal (and scared).
Even now, my sisters are still arguing amongst themselves about what kind of woman is “best” for me! They discuss it on social media and it embarrasses me.
But I can’t even get to the starting line of a relationship.
What do you advise?
Too Many Sisters
Take a mental health break from your sisters.
Tell them that you appreciate all that they tried to do that was positive when you were left in their “care,” but that you need to find your own footing in the dating world now.
That means that they must stop discussing your life on social, and that you’ll have to block them and also leave the platforms that they’re on.
Next, start trying to see yourself as an individual, not an extension of those five women.
Consider your own interests and tastes - what you like to read, your preferences in music, and for TV/film entertainment, even your general political leanings.
All this is the stuff of conversation when you meet someone new, whether in person, or online.
Think of how you get to know people through your work, because it’s not all that different in the early build-up to dating, whether online or in person.
Once you’ve done this homework don’t “sweat” asking the question about meeting someone. Keep it casual, such as a patio meeting-place, for coffee and a walk.
If reading this brings back all your anxieties, I urge you to consider getting counselling, found online under “individual therapy” in your locale.
My two sons-in-law don’t get along. One’s a businessman, the other plays in a band. They differ in earnings, work hours, attitudes, ways to relax.
At our family cottage, one sits apart, reading/talking about politics and investments. The other listens to odd new music trends, and practices them on his guitar.
They barely speak to each other. It’s getting uncomfortable for us to have them there together.
My daughters defend their partners, and say the other one’s ruining our family cottage-time.
I’m ready to disinvite them all! But I’d miss having my grandchildren there. Your suggestion?
Invite them separately. It’s not up to you to get two adult men to behave politely and respectfully to each other and their hosts.
If the wives dislike your plan, preferring that their children share time together as cousins, insist that they get their husbands to find a solution, or stay home while the others enjoy the cottage.
Tip of the day:
Your Questions and Commentaries are why this column will reach its 18th anniversary in September. Keep ‘em coming! Many thanks!