Dear Annie: My youngest son, "Ian," is soon to marry the "love of his life." I haven't had much of an opportunity to get to know "Tess," but my wife has spent time with her and really likes her. Around me, however, Tess seems to be reserved and quiet. I asked Ian about her reticence and after some hesitation, he told me that Tess finds me "creepy" and is uncomfortable being around me.
I was flabbergasted. I cannot think of one thing I'm doing to make this woman feel this way. I have never touched her or leered at her. I don't find her particularly attractive, so I cannot imagine that I'm being lascivious without realizing it. I don't make off-color jokes. I dress conservatively. When I speak to her, I look her in the eye, not the chest. I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong.
I mentioned it to my wife, and she admitted that she overheard Tess and two of her friends laughing about how creepy I am. Her opinion of Tess has been substantially lowered. I asked my other two daughters-in-law whether they thought I was creepy and they were astonished that anyone would think so. They both want to talk to Tess, but I asked them not to. My son said that Tess shared her feelings about me in confidence and he doesn't want her to know he told me.
Should I wait until after the marriage and try to talk to Tess? My other family members say to let it go and that she'll get to know me better with time, but I'm not so sure. Ian has been dating Tess for nearly three years and she's had plenty of opportunities to get to know me. Any advice? -- Not a Creepy Guy
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Dear Guy: We don't know why Tess thinks you are creepy. There may be something about you that reminds her of a less-savory character. Or her definition of "creepy" might be different than yours. It is also possible that Tess is setting the stage for keeping Ian away from his family after the marriage.
You need to discuss this openly and your wife has provided the perfect excuse to do so without compromising your son. With other family members present, especially Ian, tell Tess what your wife overheard. Ask her why she thinks you are "creepy" and how the two of you can overcome it in order to have a better relationship. Frankly, we would be wary of any young woman who turns her future father-in-law into an object of derision with her girlfriends. Tread carefully.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Please Stop," who is on a fixed income, but feels guilty when she receives constant requests from charities for donations.
Last year, between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, I wrote down every request we received from a charity. Using the smallest amount that I would have sent, the total for my donations would have come to $7,151. As my wife and cannot afford this amount, we no longer feel guilty about not sending money to anyone. -- C.
Dear C.: We wish more people could leave the guilt out of these decisions. One should only donate to those charities you support, in the amount your budget can handle.
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