Listen: I have a huge problem. My girlfriend and my mother don’t get along. AT ALL. A few months ago, I asked my girlfriend to marry me. She accepted and everything was fine. Then my girlfriend insulted my mother’s cooking. Now everything’s gone to hell. In her defense, she didn’t really insult my mother’s food; she brought a dish of potato salad to a family gathering. Only potato salad is my mom’s specialty. Some things were said -- by both of them -- and now they hate each other. To complicate things, I was married once before and my mother loved my wife Sheila. Now every time my girl and my mom are in the same room, my mother says things like, “Sheila is much prettier than you” to her or “I bet Sheila would take you back if you dropped this skank” to me. The wedding’s coming up and I would like both my mom and my fiancée to be there. They both say they will be, as long as the other one apologizes first. Who do you think should step to the plate? Signed, Momma’s Boy Okay: This is going to sound a little far-fetched, but let’s think of your family as a fraternity or one of those delegation secret societies. I mean, in a way that’s what they are. Now your mother is sort of the grand pooba, or at the very least, a high-ranking member. Your girlfriend, on the other hand, is just a pledge. She’s been sponsored by someone (you) and now she has to prove herself. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter if she messed up the team chant or the live goldfish didn’t get all the way down. She didn’t mean to offend anyone, but she did. And now she’s got to fix it. You seem to be between the worst rock and hard place on earth. You should never get between two women, much less your would-be wife and your mother. I think that in this case, your mother was definitely in the wrong. Especially is she’s talking trash about your fiancée. It sounds as if your girlfriend didn’t know the potato salad would be insulting to your mother (perhaps you should have warned her, but there’s no looking back now). And if this was a situation between two of your sisters, for instance, or two women who weren’t related to you in any way, I’d say the guilty party should be the first, as you say, to step up to the plate. However. I wouldn’t hold my breath for that to happen. A fraternity pledge would never expect someone who already lived in the house to apologize for getting the wrong type goldfish or not teaching the secret chant slow enough. And even if this isn’t a great analogy, your fiancée needs to say she’s sorry. As you’ve probably realized, you can’t choose your family. Your mother will always be your mother, no matter what. I’m not saying that your fiancée is dispensable; I’m just saying that if something goes wrong with your wife, you can split you the stuff and get a divorce. A divorce from your mother would get the entire fraternity involved. You could get kicked out for associating with a GDI and then everyone would have to take sides and it would be a big old mess. It will be easier on everyone if you fiancée just bites it and decides to be the bigger person. I’m not suggesting a teary scene full of hugs and flowers, just a simple apology. She doesn’t have to mean it; she just has to say it. Then momma can apologize to her and perhaps you can get them both to the wedding. And if you don’t want to be between the rock and the hard place again, I’d tell your mother to zip it on the skank comments. She might be the grand pooba, but please, that’s just uncalled for. Listen: I do a lot of traveling through my company and I’m a fairly outgoing person so I go on several dates every week. I’m also young and fairly attractive, which helps matters. But I haven’t had a long-term thing in about two or three years. The problem? A lot of the guys I see or even date seriously turn out to be married. I’m not sure why this keeps happening. It’s not as if I look for wedding rings when I’m choosing possible suitors. Sometimes they tell me when they ask me out, but other times I don’t find out until we’ve rolled around a bit. I tried dating someone who was single, never been married at all, but it just didn’t take. I also fell in love with one of the married guys. I kept on dating the entire time and have just recently gotten over him, but I don’t want to head down that path again. It was agony to realize that he was never going to leave his wife for me. I’m not even sure I wanted him, too, it just hurt that I knew he never would. I’m not sure what my problem is, but I wanted to get your opinion. Am I genetically predisposed to be a mistress? I don’t think of myself as a bad person and all the sneaking around and the cheating certainly weigh on my heart. Plus, I’m worried that I’ll never have a real relationship again; ever since my first or second affair, I’ve been jaded about marriage. Signed, The Other Woman Okay: I have this friend who is something of a fag hag. She doesn’t go out of her way to hang out with gay men, but somehow, some way, she meets them, often times will try to date them, and then when that inevitably fails, becomes friends with them. Not to say you have issues, but she has some serious ones, and she’s always looking for someone who’s non-threatening. It’s not as if she’s put “Non-threatening” on her list of criteria, but it sort of looms there like an albatross. And gay, by the way, is pretty non-threatening. So I guess you have to ask yourself .... why would I keep wanting to date married men? Is it because I want a boyfriend but none of the heavy commitments (that’s just a guess, btw; I don’t know you or anything about you so I certainly can’t presume to know what sort of freaky things are going on in your mind)? Or maybe it’s because you started dating a married man once -- maybe because you really liked him or he was separated or you’re completely amoral -- and he told you all the horrible things going on in his marriage, how his wife got fat or she doesn’t understand him, and them, step back, Snow White, you realized that marriage isn’t always happily ever after. Maybe then you decided that you wanted no part of marriage and the best way to avoid marriage is .. Ta da! to date people who are already married! It’s just a thought. At any rate, here’s what I would do. If you see a cute guy, go ahead and give him the once over, look at his eyes, hair line, butt, and most importantly, his ring finger. If it has a ring, or a band aid, or a tan line on it, you do not date this person. Simple as that. On another note, there’s nothing wrong with not having a serious relationship for a little while. The world isn’t Noah’s ark, after all. And it doesn’t sound as if you’re quite ready to be paired up, even if you do think it’s what you want. So enjoy your travel, enjoy your youth and your attractiveness. Just don’t enjoy them with married men. And maybe, just maybe, you can kick that gene for mistress-behaving. (Gotta problem? Wanna make it my business? Write cashiola@memphisflyer.com.)

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