Al Whitaker


Whit’s End: Steer Clear of Drama King


Hi, Whit,

Last week at a former teacher’s funeral, I ran into a guy I hadn’t seen since high school over 20 years ago. We talked briefly, and he asked me to lunch so we could “catch up.” Then we exchanged phone numbers.  After the funeral, that same day, he began texting me. Long story short, he sent me a picture of me out of his yearbook saying that he had a crush on me back then. He said I was the sexiest women he has ever met or known and that I am his “dream girl.” Then he started describing fun dates we could be having like going to the movies, the beach, or a baseball game, etc.

We were beginning to decide where and when to meet for lunch, when all of a sudden he started talking about how he had a 13-year-old daughter who is very possessive and jealous of other women. The next day I got a very long text from him saying he thought about us “all night” and that morning. He said he thought we should “wait on us” until his daughter is 16 because he realizes now that I deserve and need attention from a man, which he cannot give me right now with his daughter being with him 50% of the time, and his ex being “a demanding person.” He said that “breaking off” with me was very hard for him to do, but he thought it was in my best interest.

This is all very confusing and upsetting since we haven’t even had our first lunch date. I told him that I am very busy too with my job and that I don’t need a man’s attention 24/7. I said I thought our days apart would be good for us and make us miss each other more. He said he was “very happy” to hear that and asked me if I would just give him more time to get himself together and “wrap his head around everything.” He said he wouldn’t make me wait long, and we would talk soon. At this point I feel dazed and confused. What do you think I should do?

Dazed and Confused

Dear Dazed:

What I think you should do is to not wait for long at all and to contact him immediately, well before he has had time to “wrap his head around everything.” From all you have said, he could take a while, given where his head seems to be right now. Take control by letting him know that you think he has “too much on his plate” right now. (That expression always makes me laugh. Think about it—do you know anyone who finds eating a heavy obligation?)

Losing That Loving Feeling As She’s Gaining The Pounds


Hey, Whit:

My girlfriend, “Heather” and I have been dating for almost 2 years and are in our mid-twenties. In the last year or so she has been putting on weight. Heather was about 125 lbs and 5’ 5” when we met, and now she’s around 170. (I’m not sure exactly how much she weighs, but that’s what she looks like she weighs to me.)

She says she wants to be thin again, but if I try to talk to her about how to do it, she gets hurt or mad. If I don’t say anything about it, she says that I’m really thinking about it, but just not saying anything about it (which is true, sometimes). I feel like I’m stuck because no matter what I do, I can’t help. I do want to help her do what she wants, but I don’t see any way to do that.

I’m trying hard not to be shallow, but I’m just not attracted to her the way I was before. Heather says that I should love her no matter what she looks like because even if she is “fat,” it’s the person inside who I should love. I wish I didn’t feel the way I do, but I do and I can’t pretend that I don’t.

To tell the truth, I’m starting to not like our relationship, but I don’t want to be the kind of guy who breaks up with his girlfriend because she got fat. What do you think I should do?

Hope I’m Not Shallow

Confronting Less Than Grand Grandparents


Hi, Whit:

My parents and my husband’s parents live close to us (mine, around 20 minutes, and his, within an hour), so we are lucky, especially since we have a two-year old daughter, “Kelsey.” Both sets of grandparents have been around for Kelsey’s birthdays, and we can easily go to both houses for Christmas/Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, etc. This should be the ideal set-up, right? But it’s not.

The problem is that my husband’s parents don’t really seem that interested in Kelsey. They are generous with birthday and holiday gifts, but they don’t spend much time with her. Even though they are all retired, only my parents are available if we need some help with her. To be honest, we have never asked my husband’s parents because they have never volunteered or indicated any willingness along those lines. They even want to be called “Grandmother and Grandfather” instead of much more affectionate names like “Nana and Pop-pop.”

What really bothers me is that I want my daughter (and any subsequent kids) to know all of their grandparents and have a strong connection like I did with my grandparents. I want her to feel special and loved by my husband’s parents like she does with mine.

I’ve wanted to talk to them so that they know how I feel, but my husband doesn’t see any point because, as he says, “They are just different people” than my parents. I feel like I ought to do something since it’s a question of how her life is going to be with them. I just can’t forget about it because I don’t want her to miss out on something so important. What do you think I should do?

Wants the Best for her Daughter

Dear Wants:

What I think you should do is to refrain from speaking to your in-laws about the way they behave toward your daughter (and especially what they want to be called by Kelsey) Talking to them can only make them feel that you disapprove of them as grandparents, which, of course, will only make them more hesitant to do anything with or for Kelsey.

Whit’s End: My Ex-Husband Owes Me $50,000. How Can I Get Back at Him?



Hey, Al:

Here is the problem. My ex-husband and I have been divorced for 5 years, and getting money from him is like pulling out teeth with tweezers. We have two teenagers who go to expensive schools. He partially pays for school, but is always underpaying because he says that he doesn’t have to pay for any “extras.” He just refuses to give me anything for medical expenses. At this point he owes me nearly $50,000, but he ignores my requests for reimbursement.

He is a businessman who makes and spends a lot of money, so tight finances are not the problem. Since I make very little, the only way I can make it financially is with help from my parents, who are not wealthy but were always frugal and have savings.

Part of it is that he is getting back at me for divorcing him, and the other part is that in his world, “suckers pay.” He wants the whole world, and especially me, to know that he is the man and that he’s in charge. What should I do?

Tired of Getting Stiffed


When the Guest Bed is Intolerable, Is It Okay to Tell the In-Laws?


Hi, Whit:

Here is a kind of unusual problem. When we go to visit my in-laws (my husband’s brother and sister-in-law) we stay in a bed that is too soft and makes me have a miserable 2-3 night’s sleep. Since we visit them several times during the year, I would like to offer to buy a better mattress. The one we have at home, a Tempur-pedic, would be perfect, and since we would benefit from it, I’d be happy to buy it. We can afford it, so the money isn’t an issue. This is the issue: I want to buy the mattress and put it on the bed that we sleep on when we visit. It seems like a generous and practical solution to me, but my husband thinks that it is rude and “narcissistic.” We are going to be seeing them this summer, so I would like to do something soon to fix this predicament. What to you think I should do?

Wants a Good Night’s Sleep

Whit’s End: I’m Bored; Should I Break Up With My Boyfriend?



Hi, Whit:

My boyfriend, “Riley”, and I are in our late 20s and have been together for more than two years. We get along well and don’t fight. We have discussed marriage and kids, and have fun together, but we don’t live together. Our sex life is active and healthy, and we love each other.  What we have is good, and I don’t want to lose it, but I do get bored sometimes.

Recently, I made a new, guy friend, “Cole”, who is sexy, smart, and handsome. He’s in a relationship too. Since I am definitely attracted to him, I’m trying not to flirt, but he has made comments and gestures that suggest he’s interested too.

In the beginning, I felt I was clear to Cole about just being friends. Then, when we started hanging out, I let him know again, and more explicitly, that I only wanted something platonic. I thought he felt the same way, but now I’m not so sure. Maybe I was a little naïve, but I also thought a guy who was already “taken” would be a safer choice as a friend.

Maybe I’m just interested in this new guy because I’m bored with my boyfriend.  I’m not sure and would like to spice up my life. My question, I guess, is whether I should let something happen with this guy.

Interested and Bored

Telling the In-Laws You Can Pay Your Own Way, Thank You


Dear Whit: Whenever we go out with my in-laws, my father-in-law always picks up the check. You would think that isn’t a problem, but sometimes I would like to be the one to take care of it. My wife and I have been married for 4 years and we do pretty well financially, so I want to show that we don’t depend on my in-laws generosity. Part of the problem is that he is a big, intimidating guy who played football in college and owns his own company. So he kind of makes me feel like a little boy, especially because I am not big or athletic. What do you think I should do the next time we go out to dinner? Can Handle the Check

Whit’s End: Warning Daughter About Urban Campus Safety


Hi, Whit:

The relatively recent attacks or assaults against students that have been reported in the city and the surrounding area have me really nervous about my daughter who is considering going to a college in an urban setting. As responsible, but not helicopter parents, my wife and I want to help her avoid being the victim of a crime. Is there anything we can do short of telling her that she needs to go to a college in a safer, non-urban environment?

Worried Parents

Dear Worried: First, you can tell her not getting “trashed” is the best way to avoid crime in any setting, urban or non-urban, college or not. To be safe in any environment, every person needs to be cautious and alert to keep from being vulnerable to an attack. To women in particular my advice is not to ingest any substance that lowers inhibition or awareness because predators lurking in the shadows are unfortunately not just in fairy tales and not necessarily in the dark.

Unwanted Affection From Father-in-Law Makes Woman Dread Mother’s Day


Hi Al:

Before we see my in-laws for Mother’s Day, I need some advice on how to deal with my father-in-law.

I don’t like the way he hugs me or how long he hugs me. He pulls me too close to him and holds me far past the time of a normal, socially-acceptable hug. What’s even worse is that when I attempt to give him a peck on the cheek, he kisses me on the mouth. He is starting to seem really skeevy to me and is making me dread going to see my husband’s parents.

So far I haven’t said anything to my husband because I’m afraid that he won’t believe me, or he’ll freak out, or tell me I’m misinterpreting, or some combination. He won’t want to hear what I have to tell him.

Every time this happens I get more tense to the point that I’m worried that I might say something that makes everybody blame me because it it’s such a small thing. Is this whole issue ridiculous and am I overreacting? Should I just put up with it? How should it handle this?

Skeeved Out 

Whit’s End: In-Law Trouble



Hi Whit,

When my husband and I were dating over 10 years ago, I introduced my friend to his brother and they eventually got married—and now they are getting divorced after having had two children who are now 5 and 7. The break-up was nasty and there are hard feelings, especially because my BIL accused my SIL of having had an affair, which she never did.

Recently, while they were separated, my (and her) FIL died and my BIL refused to let my SIL  (his wife) attend the funeral at the church with her children.  My SIL is very upset because she wants to be with her kids so that she can console them during a traumatic event.

Obviously my BIL wants to punish my SIL by excluding her from the funeral because that’s the kind of mean, vindictive person he is.  My SIL and I agree that the damage to the kids should be more important than getting revenge, but don’t know what to do about it.

My SIL wants me to talk to my husband to see if he can somehow persuade his brother to be reasonable. However, my husband says that he is going to stay out of it because it’s between his brother and his wife. What do you think I can do? Should I try to do anything at all?
Stuck in the Middle