DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I’m married to a woman who loves guys giving her attention. She isn’t someone who’s going to cheat; I don’t worry about that because she’s so insecure. But anywhere we go, if there are men we don’t know, she flies right over and introduces herself.
Nothing wrong with that, as she’s always been that way. It’s how we met! But it’s particularly bad at parties at the lake and barbecues here in town, which she loves to organize for everybody. (And for the business of flirting, let’s face it.)
She mostly ignores the women at the gathering. I’m starting to notice how other people notice her ignoring me. And most of the guys she talks to get the idea they can hit on her in front of me. She seems so excitable and into the things they say.
In the back of my head, I can’t help but wonder if she’s actually looking for someone new. Please help.
— Embarrassed and Uneasy, East Kildonan
Dear Uneasy: She’s certainly looking for ego-stroking. Have you let her think you’re emotionally tough and OK with her flirting? Try this: ask for her permission to do the same with other women, and see how she reacts. She will feel she has to say it’s OK because she wants to continue doing it herself, but her insecurity problem will pop up quickly in jealousy — as unreasonable as that may seem. She will hit the roof!
Then you can calm down and really talk deeply for a change. Ask her outright if she’s really looking for someone new, because you’re fed up with the flirting. She may panic. With you, she has security, but she still needs the adulation of other men.
It’s like she looks in their eyes and says, "Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?" — that famous chant from Snow White’s nasty stepmother.
You have to decide if you want a whole lifetime of this. The decision is really up to you, because she’s not the kind of woman who wants to be on her own, unless she’s 100 per cent sure she already has a new love. Find out if she’s started a serious search and watch her face closely when she answers. Also, ask her how much she loves you and if she’s willing to stop her flirting to keep you.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My son is 13 and plays video games non-stop. He plays a very popular game that had a world cup tournament where a 16-year-old won a fortune. Now he insists he has to play it every day, all day, and that it’s "training" and not just playing games.
I wouldn’t care so much if he was a good student, but last spring his grades were starting to slip downhill, and I don’t want to sit and watch it keep happening even worse this fall. What’s a compromise that won’t make me his mortal enemy, but will get him back on track with the important parts of his life?
— Worried Dad, Fort Garry
Dear Worried: No wonder you’re upset; your boy is thinking like a gambler at 13. He’s got his eye on the near-impossible goal of "making it" in life with a giant win, instead of studying and working towards a career.
You definitely need to limit his computer time now, but you won’t be successful if you or he can’t think of how to fill his spare time with something more exciting than just homework. Helping kids who are addicted to gaming requires finding exciting alternative activities.
Late summer and early fall are good times to get kids signed up for things. Rather than just thinking of what kind of homework-versus-gaming deal you can cut with him, you’d be better off spending time taking him out of the house and introducing him to new adventures he might want to get involved in.
Teenage kids need to get outdoors and get exercise while having fun. They also need to explore creative talents. Make up a very long list of activities like common and unusual sports, filmmaking, acting lessons for movie opportunities, boxing, wrestling, archery or go-karting. Ironically, a computer will help you — with lists.
When school starts, you can trade time on the computer for good grades, plus participation in these other activities. Then you have to monitor the deal. No, it doesn’t sound easy for you or him, but you clearly love the boy and are concerned and it will be worth it.
Please send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or Miss Lonelyhearts c/o the Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6.
Each year, the Free Press publishes more than 1,000 letters to Miss Lonelyhearts and her responses to the life and relationship questions that come her way.