Tell Me About It: Proud cook resents boyfriend's lukewarm praise

Posted: March 03, 2012

Question: I love to cook and my family usually loves what I cook. I've cooked for my new boyfriend, and he always says the same thing: "This meal wasn't bad" or "pretty good." Rarely does he fully compliment it.

I know I shouldn't be fishing for compliments (which is exactly what I'm doing), but I'm extra-sensitive because his ex-wife was an amazing cook. Should I cut back on how much I cook for him or should I just pass the comments off as benign?

Answer: Think more broadly, please. Is he stingy with warmth, support, or kindness in other contexts? And if so, does it bother you then, too, or are you just sensitive on this one topic, where your pride collides with his history?

Q: My boyfriend is (surprise!) on the fence about marriage even though he has proposed. (That's a whole other kettle of mixed messages.) Every time we take some time apart, after one or two days he's begging me to come back. But when we're together he still can't seem to get his act together.

I do stay away for days at a time, but he's still begging. It seems like this 40-year-old Peter Pan just doesn't want to make a decision. I'd tell him my patience is wearing thin, but that'll put more pressure on him so I don't know what to do.

A: Move on. The pain will spike early, and then begin to recede as you notice how free you feel without his indecision dragging down everything you do.

And accept this imaginary plaque for "kettle of mixed messages." Genius.


E-mail Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

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