DEAR ABBY: Our granddaughter and her twin brother are turning 13. My husband and I wanted to celebrate this milestone birthday with a candlelight spaghetti dinner at our house that includes their boyfriend/girlfriend.
We planned to get out the china and silver and eat in the formal dining room. Our daughter was on board, and the kids were excited.
Our daughter's former in-laws, however, threw a fit about the children being "too young to date."
Obviously, we'll honor our ex-son-in-law's wishes, but we're terribly disappointed, as are the kids. Since when is dinner at home with your grandparents and your boyfriend and girlfriend considered a date? Or are we out of touch with reality? -- CANCELED IN RED OAK, TEXAS
DEAR CANCELED: The deal-killer may have been the "candlelight" aspect of the dinner, because in some people's minds candlelight connotes "romance." I can't blame your ex-son-in-law and his parents for wanting to keep the twins cocooned in their concept of childhood for as long as they can, but it's a losing battle.
If memory serves me, seventh grade (12 or 13) is when boys and girls begin noticing each other -- if not before -- and while they are too young to "date," I hardly consider dinner at the grandparents as dating. Although it may not have been the custom in your son-in-law's family, age 13 or 14 is when many young people begin going to supervised parties/dances, although they do it in groups.
DEAR ABBY: I have been dating a lovely woman, "Bethany," for the past seven months. I'm 30 and Bethany is 29. She's a teacher, and I work in health care. We met online, then talked on the phone and eventually decided to meet.
Abby, I was attracted to her from the moment I saw her. Over these past months I have bonded with Bethany's family and have fallen in love with her. I would like nothing more than to make her my wife. I haven't asked her yet, although we have joked about it.
Two nights ago we went to dinner, and the whole time something felt "off" to me. When we returned to Bethany's place, she informed me out of the blue that she would like to take a break from "us." She said she feels rushed into a new relationship without having closure from her previous one, which lasted six years and was difficult.
Before I became too upset, I got up off the couch and left. We haven't talked since, as I want to give her the "space" she has requested. I love Bethany, and I'm afraid I am going to lose her. How long should I go without making contact with her? -- TROUBLED IN JACKSONVILLE, N.C.
DEAR TROUBLED: Frankly, the person to reach out should be Bethany, but give her six weeks. If you haven't heard from her by then, when you do call, don't be surprised to hear that she and her former boyfriend have reconciled. When a woman says there was "no closure," it usually means she still has feelings for the person.
It is also possible that she finds "difficult" relationships more exciting than ones without drama. And if that's the case, then unless you, too, are looking for pain, you'll move on. You have my sympathy.
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