Dear Carolyn • I tend to get treated badly by some pretty serious jerks. Often, it's my fault there are obvious signs of jerkiness and I proceed without caution. Other times it's out of thin air. Most recently it's a combination. While I'm not sad at the loss of this person, I just can't shake the feeling there must be something terribly wrong with me that every person I get involved with sees fit to treat me like the human equivalent of dog doo on their shoe. I mean, I'm the common factor here, right? How can it not be about me and my quality as a person?
Dear Human Dog • Easily. You've made a false connection: that treatment reflects the quality of the recipient. It reflects the quality of the giver. That men mistreated you speaks ill of each man who did so. You are the common denominator, and you do have a role in your own treatment: You're the one choosing these men. The "something terribly wrong" is that you're missing or ignoring warning signs, and are possibly in a bad enough place emotionally for mistreatment to be your comfort zone. Whether you do it in counseling or on your own, please tease out what you've found attractive in all of these men, and let that lead you to the why.
Dear Carolyn • My 28-year-old son, "Justin," has been with his girlfriend, 27, for over two years. She is more than ready to get married, putting a lot of pressure on him. He, however, can't seem to move forward. Justin thinks living together would help answer all the questions that have kept him from proposing. He thinks it would be a nice trial run. I am fearful. I did not feel the need for a "trial," and I am still married 30-plus years later. Thoughts?
Dear Concerned Mom • Living together can help couples pre-marriage, but the risk of an inertia marriage is too high to treat it as a "test." As a mom privy to her son's thinking, though, you can call him out on his self-serving logic. Please do.In your case, once you've said your piece, kindness is to back off and trust him to run his own life.
Carolyn Hax's column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.