Ask Amy

Thursday, June 14, 2012 at 12:54am

Dear Amy: I am a professional woman in my early 30s. My parents seem to think they need to keep tabs on me as though I were 13.

When they call me late at night and I don't answer, it leads to panicked voicemails and angry calls to my significant other.

Every phone call starts with, "Where are you?" instead of, "How are you," and then they accuse me of "Being out having fun."

I do not think this is normal. They have difficulty making friends and watch television most of the time, and I think that they resent my social activities, trips and friends.

How do I get them to start acting like well-adjusted adults instead of needy micromanagers?

— Annoyed

Dear Annoyed: Your parents have had 30 years of practice to micromanage your life. If they were ever going to be well-adjusted, it probably would have happened by now.

The odds that you can force them to change are slim. What you are left with is the age-old task of drawing and enforcing boundaries.

First you give your folks reasonable limits: "Mom, I'm not going to take your calls after 10:30 at night. Please don't call Brad late at night, either. I'll return your calls in the morning." Call them on a very regular schedule.

In terms of being out and having fun — you should definitely own that. If this is leveled at you as an accusation, you need to tell your folks that, "I am definitely out having fun. And you should do the same."

Your folks are who they are. You should be calm, respectful and kind to them. Encourage them to get busy, but understand that they are making choices and may not be able — or willing — to change.

Dear Amy: I met a man on a dating website. When we were communicating online, we agreed to exclusivity. After our first in-person meeting, he sent me an email saying, "Do you think I'm a total schmuck if I tell you I'm seeing someone but we're not a couple, and if things don't work out then I'd like to date you?"

So being very righteous, I wrote back, "Yes, I think you're a schmuck." Then about three months ago, he got in touch, and we've been seeing each other steadily ever since. He keeps saying we're exclusive, but I see he's still signing on to the dating site.

My profile has been deleted, and I'm not browsing. He keeps saying he will cancel his membership but obviously hasn't.

He also said he would go for an STD test if I wanted him to (and I said, "Of course I want you to!" To which he replied, "What, you think I have a disease?").

This man is no youngster; he's 61 years old. My thought is that he's writing the same nonsense to anyone else he may be contacting online.

My friend tells me not to make a big deal out of this or issue an ultimatum. He tells me we're becoming a couple (a couple of what?), but I just don't know. Is he looking to upgrade?

— Increasingly Irritated

Dear Irritated: You talk a good game, but so far you haven't done one thing other than worry how you can have this self-described "schmuck" all to yourself.

If you want an exclusive and monogamous dating relationship, you had better find someone who shares your values. This man is telling you and showing you that he does not.

Never mind him. If you have had sex with him, you should get an STD test. And you should hop right back on that dating site and find yourself an "upgrade."

Dear Amy: "Uncertain" wrote to you, wondering if she and her husband should still financially support a graduate student daughter who had announced she was getting married. She said she didn't think this couple could make it financially on their own.

You missed the obvious answer: "If you are mature enough to get married, you and your husband should support yourselves."

— Fiscally Responsible

Dear Responsible: I thought this couple should continue to finance her education (as they had been), but otherwise, right you are.

Send questions via email to askamy@tribune.com. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.

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