Dear Harlan: I’m talking to a new guy. We’ve been on a few dates. The problem is that he compliments me way too much. He’s always telling me how beautiful I am. He goes on and on.
At first I thought it was sweet. Now it bothers me. I’ve asked him to stop giving me so many compliments. He thought that was a weird request. I kind of agree with him, but it’s how I feel. Why can’t I handle compliments? Is there something wrong with me? — Compliment
Dear Compliment: I’m guessing you’re in your late teens or early 20s. Most women (and men) get tired of being treated like garbage once they hit 25. Some get to that point earlier in life. It’s very hard to listen to someone say kind things when your inner voice is saying something very different. It’s annoying. It goes against the script. It makes you question yourself.
The game in middle and high school is to make everyone feel like less so we all feel like more. And as a result, everyone ends up feeling like less. When someone makes you feel like more, it’s confusing.
Try this: Next time he compliments you, ask yourself, “Is this true?” And if you don’t think it’s true, figure out why you can’t believe it’s true. Also, check out “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman.
If his love language is affirmation (words of praise) and you aren’t an affirmation person, his constant compliments will miss the mark and irritate you. Check out the book and let your search for answers help you discover your value and the gifts you bring to the world.
Dear Harlan: My son is going to college in a few weeks. I start crying when I think about him leaving for school. My husband and I are planning to move him into his dorm and help him get set up. A good friend told me that if I’m going to be crying the whole time I’m better off not going. It will make it too hard for my son. This made me even more upset. How could I not go? Have you ever heard of one parent going because the other is too emotional? — Sad Mom
Dear Sad Mom: Yes, it happens. Some parents will split move-in duties because one parent can’t keep it together. Sometimes it’s a dad who stays behind. Before making any big decisions, take a step back and think about what is making you so sad. Yes, this is a milestone for your family, but there’s something else happening. What is making you break down? Is it that life is changing? Is it a lack of control? Is it a reminder that you are now in a different phase of life? Is it fear of the unknown?
Once you can pinpoint what is making you so sad, how you react to these feelings can change. Once you understand the thoughts that trigger the feelings, you can talk about them and change how you react. You can connect with other moms who have been through this and can speak directly to what you’re feeling. When you have a better understanding of why this is so hard for you, the feelings no longer control you. You can change them from sadness to gratitude. This can give you just enough control to keep it together long enough to move him in, say goodbye, drive away ... and sob uncontrollably in the car until you get home.