Dear Amy: Perhaps you can shed some light on the perplexing behavior I am witnessing among my friends.
We are all in our mid-20s. Within the past two years almost everyone in our group has gotten engaged and/or married (some getting engaged as little as three months into their relationship).
Although I am very happy for my friends, I’m disappointed in their competitive behavior. From the moment the first couple announced their engagement, others became jealous. Everything from the size of the ring to who could throw the better wedding and who could buy a house first became very important to all my friends. They can’t seem to be genuinely happy for one another.
I have stayed out of this frenzy. I find it childish and ridiculous. However, frequent comments about why my boyfriend and I haven’t gotten engaged yet — as well as how I must feel “left out” or “behind” — have really gotten to me.
We are happy with our relationship and enjoy living with each other. Is this common or healthy behavior for this age group? What’s the rush?
Amy says: The cynic in me says you are witnessing the rush to get that first marriage out of the way. The need to marry among your friends provides the plot for everything from Edith Wharton novels to “How I Met Your Mother.”
I think the heated competition occurs when people exit the cozy confines of college and face the gaping maw of “What’s next?”
Modern weddings are festivals of theme parties, showers and gifts — with the couple at the center. It’s exciting. It feels grown-up. And it is a socially acceptable way to plunge yourself into debt, ask your folks for money and basically behave like you are still at the center of everything.
Some couples have an existential meltdown once the wedding is over. And so they transfer their social anxiety and competitive impulses into locking down that first baby.
Don’t play this game. Take your own life at your own pace.
Mom, girl need help
Dear Amy: My 11-year-old granddaughter lives with her father and stepmom. My daughter (her mom) loves her daughter dearly, but she tends to move and change jobs (and men) quite often.
The three adults co-parent well, but two years ago my daughter moved a long distance away, making it difficult to have regular visits.
There is a lot of tension between the three parents, and I know my granddaughter is torn. While she seems happy, I can’t help but think it is having an effect on her.
My daughter and I both feel strongly that she needs to see a family therapist on a regular basis to verbalize and deal with her mixed emotions.
Her father and stepmom think she is fine. They have taken her a couple times, but something always tends to sidetrack it.
I would appreciate your advice.
Amy says: I agree that any adolescent caught in this bind would benefit from talking to a professional, but if your daughter were more stable (and chose to live closer to her child, for instance) this would help the child more than therapy.
If your daughter committed to ongoing therapy, maybe it would inspire her ex and his wife to also seek therapy for their child.
Coming out isn’t easy
Dear Amy: I take exception to your comment that a gay man being in a straight marriage was an “extreme breach.”
This assumes that the man went into the marriage fully aware that he was gay and trying to fool his wife. It’s not that easy. Sometimes it takes a person years to self-actualize while society says “it’s wrong.”
He was not living a lie all those years, but probably was not sure and trying to be “straight.” I have many friends in the same situation.
Amy says: I see your point. Thank you.
Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.