Costanza Sends a Letter to The New York Times

"Social Q's" is Philip Galanes's advice column in the New York Times.  Every Tuesday in Anti-Social Q's, I will answer the same questions as "Social Q's," with a greater regard for the sad state of the human condition.

This week Philip offers advice on relationships.  Someone cheats on their girlfriend, a woman wonders if it is fine to ask people where they are from, another is concerned about pointing out that her older girlfriend is indeed her girlfriend, and a man wants to have a relationship with someone he manages at work.

Agreeing to Go Steady Before You Are Ready

My girlfriend and I have been going out for six months.  At about the three-month mark, she started raising the issue of dating exclusively.  I really care for her, but I wasn’t ready for exclusivity.  Still, I agreed.  (I was a jerk!)  Recently, I almost hooked up with a girl I met at yoga, and would have if she hadn’t backed out.  (Now, I feel like even more of a jerk.)  Please tell me how to handle this.  I think I could be exclusive with my girlfriend in the future, but I’m not there yet.

Anonymous

Grow up.

Root of the Problem

I love doing genealogies, so people’s ancestry is of interest to me.  But when I meet someone and ask “Where are you from?” they often look startled, particularly if they are ethnic.  Am I being rude?

Maggie, New York

No, we all come from somewhere and we should not be afraid to say so.  But more importantly, it's all about where we're headed that counts.  Also, tone.  If you sound like you are genuinely interested it will come off as such, but if you sound like you are interrogating the person it is more likely to startle them.

No Room for Errors

My (same-sex) partner is 20 years older than I am.  She is often mistaken for my mother.  I try to introduce her with: “This is my partner, April.”  But occasionally we’re introduced just by name or not at all.  Often, people will say to me later: “Where’s your mother?”  This leads to confusion on my part and embarrassment on theirs.  Is there a way to correct them without causing further embarrassment or shock?

Anonymous

You're way too worried about this.  Just tell them who she is and move on.  I can't even believe you wasted precious time on this letter.  Even worse, you made me waste precious time reading it.

A Date With the Handbook

My company has an employee handbook that prohibits managers from dating people we supervise.  There are no exceptions, unlike some places that let employees date as long as they report the relationship to H.R.  May I ask a woman I supervise out on a date, then go to H.R. if she says yes?

George

You must have lost your mind (which is exactly what happens when the heart takes over).  No matter how much reason anyone offers you, you are on this path to self destruction.  Hope you enjoy being unemployed when everything goes awry as it does every single time.  Not to mention that a relationship amongst equals cannot exist when one manages the other for a good chunk of the day.


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