DEAR AMY: Due to family issues stemming from my mother’s death, I have severe trust issues with people.
I don’t like getting close to people because everyone I grew up with has either abused me in one way or another, lied to me about major things (such as the identity of my own father), or broken me down using my mother’s death as ammunition.
I am currently with a man I care for, but he shares his home with four generations of his immediate family. I find myself very standoffish when it comes to them, and even after a year I am only just starting to warm up to them.
I find myself jealous of certain things —things that I imagine are normal family things, such as having to share everything. For instance, when he and I go food shopping and then someone takes food we bought without asking, I am supposed to accept it as the way it is.
I need help or tips, something to make me “get it” instead of just getting annoyed.
I grew up basically on my own and if I am to stay with this man (and I do want to), then I need to learn how to be more family-oriented. — Frustrated Introvert
DEAR INTROVERT: You might be less frustrated if you had a little space, privacy and property that you could count on as being yours alone.
Getting annoyed after you shop for food and then find it has been consumed by others is normal, if not universal. I also think it is normal, given your background, to feel encroached upon when you are surrounded by four generations of a large family.
Ask your guy’s family members, “Would you mind if I keep some things in this container that are just for me? It’s my quirk from so many years of living alone.”
I also think it is important for you to have a physical space in the house (perhaps only a rocking chair in your room) that is yours — where you can enjoy the privacy you seem to need.
Taking care of yourself will help you to conserve the energy required to interact with the rest of the clan. Do so with kindness and respect.
I hope you will be open not only to the challenges but also the graces that can come from being part of a big family. If you successfully adjust to this, your life will be rich. A professional counselor could help.
DEAR AMY: I am a businesswoman in my mid-50s, and I will no longer shake hands with a man. My hand has been brutalized for the last time, just yesterday by a man who clinched down on my hand like a vise.
I immediately withdrew and told him that in the future he needed to be more aware of just whose hand he is shaking.
To grasp my hand so ridiculously hard was just stupid and thoughtless. If he thought for one moment that he was impressing me, he was correct, but it wasn’t the impression he wanted to leave.
These people need to assess their recipient (victim) and decide what amount of pressure needs to be applied. It’s not necessary to be limp — you can have a firm handshake and still not cause pain.
My hand still hurts today. — Hurting for Certain
DEAR HURTING: Men are not the only people to engage a vise-grip greeting. People need to be aware of the impact of such a squeeze. Those of us with very small hands and/or arthritis can be injured.
But you should make an effort to be kind. In the future, you might stave this off by pre-emptively offering your business card in your right hand.
DEAR AMY: Is it possible for someone to have an emotional affair with two people at the same time?
This person claims that it was just a good friendship, but when I said it was an emotional affair the person wondered if it was possible. — Wondering
DEAR WONDERING: When it comes to people, anything is possible and everything imaginable has already been done, including multiple emotional affairs.