Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me
Dear Annie: My 18-year-old daughter recently started college and is living on campus many hours away from her dad and me. We have a good relationship and talk weekly, but I am worried about her current choices.
I am joint on her bank account, and recently, I saw a large transaction for a purchase at an adult "toy" store. I also know she has been buying and wearing risque clothing while out with friends late at night.
Although I know a lot of this is normal self-discovery, I am worried. I've been honest about the sex addiction (in general terms), and addictive behavior in general, that runs in our family, so she knows what she's up against if she's going down that rabbit hole.
She has been taught from a young age that physical intimacy is a gift from God, given for people who are married to truly give themselves to each other. She's on birth control (which our religion is against, but I can't stop her).
How do I help her through this? I respect her as a young adult (she's truly an awesome human being!), but I am seriously worried she may not realize the physical and mental harm that can come from casual sex and one-night stands (if that is, in fact, what's going on). -- Letting Go Is Hard to Do
Dear Letting Go: It's hard for any parent to step aside and watch as their child makes decisions -- and mistakes -- that they wouldn't necessarily make themselves.
But as you said, your daughter is a young adult now, and she's responsible for making her own choices.
It sounds like you two have a solid relationship with regular and open communication. Remind your daughter to keep safety in mind as she meets new people and explores her new home at school. Let her know that you are always there to talk or listen if she needs the support.
Social media and bank transactions may not reflect the whole picture either. Trust that the awesome human being you've raised has a good head on her shoulders and will learn her own lessons at her own pace.
Dear Annie: I've dated this woman for over five months.
Last year, she cheated on me with her ex. She broke it off with me and went back to him. They had problems, and we recently started talking again. She wants it to be casual and see what happens. We have sex and everything, and I'm starting to have feelings for her again.
She has said she misses the things we used to do and sends me kissing emojis when we text. I think I see signs of her wanting more, but I'm not really sure.
What do I do? I want to bring it up, but I'm afraid to because I don't want to ruin it if there is a chance. Casual dating and I don't mix too well. I want and need more than casual. -- Cautiously Optimistic
Dear Cautiously: You can't ruin something you don't have.
Now's the time for a serious conversation with this woman to see what she's looking for and compare it to your expectations for the relationship.
If you want more than a casual thing and she only gives you loose answers and no commitment, you're just setting yourself up to be more disappointed and hurt down the line the longer you stay with her.
And on the point of commitment, don't forget she has already been unfaithful to you once before. As Maya Angelou said: "When people show you who they are, believe them the first time."
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.