I want to marry a woman I've known for four days. Am I crazy?
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Dear Miss Information,
This past weekend, one of my best friends from grad school got married. About six weeks before the wedding, I had broken up with my past girlfriend to focus on my studies. When my friend found out, she said, "Don't worry, I'll set you up with one of my bridesmaids at the wedding." (She's an awesome friend, if you can't tell). From the pictures she showed me, her friend was very attractive. This friend is also in grad school, six hours from where I am.
The bridesmaid arrived early last week to help out with the wedding. I got to hang out with her for the two days before the wedding and at the wedding, then convinced her to stay another night and go out with my friends for our last hoorah before the next year of school started up again.
The problem is that all four nights have made it into my top five all-time dates/nights with a woman. I've been in love with a girl once before, and we had been best friends for four years before we dated. In just a few nights, I liked this person more, had more fun with her, and felt better about the whole thing than I did about the girl I loved and knew for five years.
She feels the same way. Our last night together, she told me, "I was just supposed to bang you to end a dry spell, not fall helplessly in love with you." There were a lot of tears from both sides at the end as we hesitantly exchanged I-love-yous — hesitant because we knew it made us look like fuckin' crazy people.
Keep in mind, my friends call me "the robot" because I'm so rational and have a system for everything. I always advise against this kind of stuff, but this weekend threw that out the window. It took no effort at all. I was just relaxed and myself and she made me blissfully happy the whole time. The problem is with both of our schooling paths and the distance, it would ruin any chance if we tried to force it. But she's all I think about now. When I told my friends I thought I could marry this girl (I'm convinced I will, because I won't find anything better suited to me on this planet), they all said they couldn't believe I spoke those words. Before this, I was living the dream, having mutually no-strings-attached sex with a friend, and now I don't even want to talk to her. I can't focus. All I want to do is make a rash decision and go be with this girl, but I also know better. Help!
— Shorted-Out Robot
Dear Shorted-Out Robot,
In shitty-person lore, weddings are considered goldmines for picking up vulnerable women — 'cause, as we all know, when ladies have feelings, it makes us weak and easy to exploit. All it takes is a smooth-talkin' devil to knock us over. Yeah, shitty humans! Get in there! (The movie Wedding Crashers is basically a scholarly text on this phenomenon.)
Of course, that trope is nonsense. Like most cliches, though, there is a kernel of truth beneath the bullshit, and it is this: weddings are moving and emotional times. You're thrilled for your friend; you're in a beautiful new locale; shrimp cocktail is free and floral arrangements are everywhere; and you have your own hotel room. How could that not pay off? Nobody looks bad in a suit, and those bridesmaids dresses mean every girl is bringing it. Love is in the air.
This is to say, Shorted-Out Robot: mazel tov, but let's take a few deep breaths. Before I added punctuation, your letter was breathless and almost manic, which generally doesn't speak to "a good mental state for making big decisions." I get it. I do. But if you're thinking "marriage," you'd also better be thinking "finish grad school," "know this girl longer than four days," and "take a couple of cold showers." She may very well be "the one," but the perfect girl now will still be the perfect girl in two years.
There is no statute of limitations on your romance. Strike up an email correspondence, set up phone dates, but put up clear limits. Don't lose yourself over this romance. Get your friends to pull you back into your world if you must. The immediate panic/passion will soften over time, but, if the relationship is meant to be, it will be replaced by something more lasting.
Dear Miss Information,
I'm about to meet my girlfriend's mom for the first time, and I'm way overthinking it.
We've only been dating a few months. She and I get along great — we have an instant rapport, we talk about issues great and small, all that stuff. Yeah, it's early on, but we're both pretty into this relationship. The problem is, her mom sounds like… a handful. She recently went through a divorce and moved across the country, only an hour or so from where my girlfriend and I now live. She's starting over as a single woman after decades of marriage. That's tough, I get it, but she calls my girlfriend daily and freaks out if she doesn't answer. My girlfriend has had to leave the dinner table several times to take a call from her mom, using hushed "crisis-management" tones.
These conversations stress my girlfriend out to no end, and when she's been talking to her mom, she's not herself: more tightly-wound, apologetic, and doormat-like. I really hate what these conversations do to her. My own mom is a pretty chill lady with a level head, and she has always respected my personal space. I don't really know how to handle seemingly irrational demands like this.
We're going up to visit her mom in her new house next week. We're staying overnight (in separate rooms), helping her install some light fixtures and stuff, then coming back. I'm really dreading this. I also know that the mom never liked my girlfriend's exes, which puts a lot of pressure on me to stand out. Do you have any advice on how to make her like me? Or, at the very least, to not make her hate me?
— MOM is WOW Upside Down
Dear MOM is WOW,
You come from a "level-headed" family that respects your personal space? In terms of family, MOM is WOW, you are the 1%. Functionality, man! What a surprising rarity. With great privilege comes great responsibility. You say you have no experience with "irrational demands," but I'd argue you are actually in a pretty good position here. If you come from an evenhanded background, use that to inform your reactions (i.e. "I can treat this difficult situation with compassion and maturity") rather than discounting your own experience (i.e. "I've never dealt with crazy moms before, so I'm at a loss"). Put another way: even if your own mom is cool, you've certainly had to manage tricky personalities before. This tricky personality just happens to own the house you'll be sleeping in. No pressure!
The first rule is to identify and let go of your own baggage about your girlfriend's mom. You resent her for the way she intrudes on your girlfriend's life, which makes sense. But in the context of this weekend, that resentment will only hurt you. Try to treat her as a blank slate, meaning, "pretend to forget everything you know about her." Stay as polite and as neutral as possible at all times. Think of yourself as a guest in her house first and foremost, not "guy dating her daughter." This is a minor distinction, but an important one: it means your energy will be put toward "overall harmony," rather than "being coupley."
Beyond that, the rest is details. Show up with a bottle of wine or flowers. Ask questions and listen attentively. Help with the dishes. Keep a respectful distance from your girlfriend in public places: if the mom cares enough to put you in separate rooms, you should probably keep up the charade.
Ultimately, this will be just a few days. Trust in your own charm and your fondness for your girlfriend, and assume her mom will like you. You'll be more natural if you're not trying too hard. And in the worst-case? Even if the situation goes south and there is screaming and broken vases and tears, you get to leave. It is a finite amount of time, and you'll have your life back before you know it. Now put on that hereditary level head, smile, and look forward to the car ride home, where you and your girlfriend can talk all the shit you want.