Dear Readers - It’s rare that a “feedback” writer commenting on a woman’s relationship in a previous column, moves me to note her harsh, judgemental tone.
But when it happened (May 28), the writer (#1) fought back, with personal information.
A different reader also wrote that the feedback was “pretty shockingly harsh.” She offered possible insight.
For me, that’s a column “conversation” for exploring our core beliefs about how women view relationships.
The issue (May 5): A woman and her long-distance boyfriend planned for her to move to his hometown. But the man hadn’t yet told his live-in daughter, 32.
Note: The following is edited only for space.
Feedback #1: “The guy is using her till someone else comes along… saying whatever she needs to hear to keep her engaged.
“If she has any respect for herself she’d walk away now.
“The woman is just there passing the time, needy, feeling that bad attention’s better than no attention, that saying ‘my boyfriend’ is better than saying ‘I’m single.’”
“Why encourage this behaviour which is stuck in the dark ages, that a woman isn't a person without a man? He’s using her for sex, that’s all. They’re co-dependent.”
My response: “His sensitivity (or fear) of (his daughter’s) reaction isn’t unusual among some divorced parents, especially when she’s his only child.
“Meanwhile, his girlfriend is hurt. But to you, she’s needy, has no self-respect, feels incomplete without a man…
“You’re quick to judge. And that IS from the Dark Ages - people who believe their opinions apply to all of a certain category: women, the poor, the “other” nationality, religion, etc.
“(She’s) increasingly aware that the man she loves is delaying their plan to eventually live together.
“She’ll reach her own conclusions in time. She doesn’t need finger-wagging, labels and disrespect from a total stranger.”
Feedback #1’s response (May 28): “I’m turning 49. I’ve been single for 10 years and would rather be alone, not afraid of being alone than with someone.
“Guys string women along for years and make promises they have no intentions of keeping. It seems they don't share the same values.
“Call it lessons learned from the past as I’ve already put my foot down, set the standards and am not willing to lower my standards.
“If you allow someone to walk over you they will… (it’s) not judgemental.”
Feedback-writer #2 added, same day: “I'm glad you addressed her as unhelpful and judgmental.
“I thought it was odd how sure she was that this man was using this woman and that the only reason she’d be sticking around was because she’s so desperate and pathetic that she couldn't stand to be alone.
“Perhaps this is similar to something she went through in her past… but to also decide (a woman) needed a relationship to feel superior, was way too much.”
Ellie - Yes, we do each learn from our own pasts, and everyone has the right to form a personal standard of living with particular values and goals.
But in a forum of voices about relationship issues, people are seeking guidance and direction, not insults.
In her second feedback, we learn that the writer, has had some strong experiences that moved her to define and fortify her self-worth.
She likely has much to offer in a positive conversation of how women can, themselves, learn to assess where a relationship is headed, what they’re able to accept and what they cannot.
There’s a huge ache in my heart regarding my mother’s well-being as she gets closer to her 90th birthday.
She lives overseas and my plans to travel to be there for her big celebration shut down along with the borders and flights there because of the pandemic.
We communicate online and I’ve seen on visual platforms how worried she looks, though she tries to brush it off as “just natural, just getting older” with me and her grandchildren. I believe she’s scared.
How do I comfort her from afar, when I’m equally fearful about her future?
Remind her of her happy memories and favourite times - her own wedding, perhaps, then yours, the garden she tended, the songs she sang.
Recount amusing anecdotes involving family members, and make laughter (or at least chuckles) a part of your contact.
She needs to feel your steadfast contact and strength, not your fears.
Tip of the day:
In healthy relationships, it’s unnecessary to wield your standards like a sledgehammer. Live by them naturally, compromise when it benefits both.