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Talk the Talk      April 4, 2005

The most important component of any relationship is the ability to communicate. Communication is an excellent antidote for people who constantly talk to themselves while second-guessing their partners. It can reduce muttering, misery and misunderstanding...and save some people a lot of money! Our thrifty advisors have plenty to say.

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Old dog; old tricks

Dear Conversely,

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For the past four years, I've been in a relationship with a man who's twenty years older than I am. The romantic side of our relationship was unexpected and seemed too good to be true. Here's my problem. I quit smoking (cold turkey) for about a year and then I started up again. It's an on-again, off-again thing. I don't smoke everyday. Sometimes I go a week or even a month without a cigarette. However, this past Sunday, I told my love that I was smoking occasionally. He got mad and accused me of lying to him. I never lied to him. About three months ago, he asked me if I was smoking and I said no because at the time, I wasn't. I know this seems trivial, but he's really mad and this is the worse thing I've done in our relationship. I want to quit, but I don't want him treating me like a criminal. Believe me, he's done worse things, and I throw shots back at him, but he says that I play little girl games with him. I'm twenty-five years old. Any advice would be appreciated.


Her view:

Dear What a Drag,

He sounds like a loser. First, he's twenty years older than you. You are a little girl to him and he is old enough to be your father. Second, he makes you feel ashamed over smoking a few cigarettes once in a while. Third, I don't believe there were any lies. You weren't a social smoker at the time.

So, here's the hard part. You should aggressively question whether you want to be with someone who is so much older, especially someone who doesn't make you feel good. Let's face it—he's not a likely marriage prospect for you.

He is way too self-righteous and you are being way too acquiescent. There was no grand scheme of lies here. It sounds like he found an excuse to pick on you and he pounced. Stand up for yourself. You are who you are.

He is either with you or against you—push him to make a decision.

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His view:

Dear What a Drag,

Fighting fire with fire doesn't seem to be doing the trick. At the rate you are going, it will keep escalating until you are throwing more than verbal shots at each other. It's time for another strategy. It's time to wonder whether things are—in reality—too good to be true.

There are two approaches you can try. The 'meek' approach goes like this: you apologize for smoking, for lying to him and for ruining his day, his month and his year; you tell him you don't want to keep fighting; you promise to be a good girl; and you ask for his forgiveness so you can both move on.

The second approach is harder to pull off, but more likely to succeed. You also apologize, but only for escalating the matter beyond where it should have gone. You acknowledge your part in the war of words, but you also point out that it takes two to fight. Then you propose that you both agree to forgive and move on. And you let him understand that if he utters one more word about it, he can start looking for another 'daughter figure'.

If he keeps accusing you of playing little girl games, tell him to take a look in the mirror. And then do the same thing. Ask yourself whether you want to keep being treated like a little girl.

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You Vote! 42% of Women agree with HER VIEW and 58% with HIS VIEW.

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