DAME’s Friendkeeper helps shut down an unwanted “love guru” and advises a mom on navigating playdates in an anti-vaxx, anti-gun-control world.
I have a friend who is VERY opinionated about my dating life. She’s been married for awhile and I get the feeling she’s either trying to live single life vicariously through me, or she fancies herself some sort of relationship guru who can help me find “happiness” or whatever. For every guy I match with on Tinder, she outlines a whole strategy for how we should communicate. When I go on an actual date, I don’t even make it home before she’s texting me for updates and telling me what my next move should be. If I don’t play it how she suggests, she responds in a way I can only describe as reprimanding. I know she’s just trying to help, but I’m in my mid-30s for Chrissakes! I’m happy to discuss my dating life and from time to time I will solicit advice from friends, but she’s gone overboard. Dating isn’t stressing me out anymore, but dealing with her dating advice most certainly is. How can I get her to chill the hell out and let me date in peace?
I’m Just Not That Into Her (Advice)
Hmm, a classic case of Persona Budinsky. I think you may very well be correct in that she’s trying to live vicariously through you, however it’s beyond that. Like, I live vicariously through a friend with a new baby by holding him and smelling his head, not telling her how to raise him. I think it’s time for you to explain to your friend how it makes you feel when she tries to take over your dating life. The implication is you feel like she thinks you don’t know what you’re doing and that’s not a good feeling. I also think, though, that she isn’t going to know about these matches and dates if you don’t tell her. Wait until the situation is off the ground before sharing it. Today my smartypants friend Lisa Adams tweeted, “One of best things my mother taught me is to try to remember to ASK: “Do you just want me to listen or do you want my advice?” You can reverse that, too. Tell your friend, “I just want you to listen, I’m not asking for advice.” In other words, she can smell your head, but that’s it.
I’m not an overbearing mother (that’s probably what all overbearing mothers say), but with a couple of kids, one at prime playdate age and another under 1, I’m starting to feel like I need to be, at least as far as other parents are concerned. Here’s what I mean. I live in Southern California where a trip to Disneyland means you could bring home the measles as a souvenir, and parents are not required to vaccinate their children. I have a mom friend who has said things that lead me to believe her kids are on a “relaxed” vaccination schedule. How do I broach that topic not only with her, but with new mom friends as well? “Will your kid give mine a potentially fatal illness?” is not the most friendly opener. And beyond infectious diseases, what about families that keep a gun in the house? I don’t want my son hanging out where firearms might be accessible, but it’s not really the kind of thing you can bring up nonchalantly when you’re scheduling a playdate. “My kid has a peanut allergy and by the way, are you packing heat?” Depending on the info I find out, is there any way to salvage a friendship with a family whose house I won’t let my kid play at? I want my kids to have normal lives with lots of friends. I just want to keep them as safe as possible, and not lose all my friends in the process.
The Helicopter Has Landed
I remember when HIV was just starting to be a thing. Girlfriends of mine at the time would stress about asking a guy to wear a condom because it would make them seem uncool or, you know, mortal. And then someone we knew contracted the virus and suddenly everyone walked around with a purse full of rubbers (I guess we wanted to be very prepared … or we were sluts). And I had no problem asking someone if they’d been tested for STDs, too, which is kind of what you’re doing here.
The point is, how you look when it comes down to your life and health—or the life and health of your kids, doesn’t matter. I think there are a few places in life where it’s okay to be over the top—when you want to know if your kid’s friend’s parents have a loaded gun in their house is one area. Getting an incorrect sandwich order is another (you are free to go BALLISTIC if you don’t get the right condiments). When I was a kid, my mom didn’t want me to go to a kid’s house because her family drank soda and ate a lot of food with preservatives. I really wanted to go there—not because I liked the kid, because I wanted a soda. But I didn’t and somehow I survived and even went on to have friends.
Now truthfully, I don’t think you’re risking a big loss by alienating parents who don’t vaccinate their kids or keep loaded guns at home. As far as how you do it, be matter of fact. Like with my kid’s friends who have nut allergies, their parents will tell me when the kids are getting together. You can just say, “Dylan is really looking forward to his playdate with Brittany, quick question—are you an anti-vaxxer and do you have any guns in your house?” You can be funny and say, “This might sound nuts but I’ve been accused of worse…” You can blame it on your spouse. Anything. But the cost of not finding out is just a little too high, and if someone thinks you’re too neurotic and they don’t want to hang with you, then you’re better off. I for one would be very happy to have my kid play with yours.
Got a platonic problem of your own that could use the Friendkeeper’s advice? Fire away: [email protected]. No situation is too uncomfortable or too small and all details are kept confidential.
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