This Time is Different Than the Last Time

Dear Hal,

I was widowed after 50 great years of marriage. I met a fabulous woman after seven months and we have been together for two years. There are certain things that are very important to her that never came up in my marriage and I am wondering what your thoughts are:

  1. You must always open the car door for her.
  2. You must get up at a table in a restaurant when she or any woman gets up to leave the table.
  3. She should pick out your clothes.
  4. At a restaurant, you ask what she wants and then you tell the waiter.
  5. Check with her before going out to make sure your clothes don’t clash.
Dear Confused,

First, sell your Ferrari and then get a nice horse and wagon (just kidding). But your “real close friend” seems to be maintaining expectations from a bygone era that were likely inherited from her mother (although there is really nothing wrong with that). I still open doors for ladies and will gladly open a car door… if I am on that side. I also believe in sliding in the chair when she first sits down to dine. However, I’m not a believer in the Jumping Jack routine when a lady arrives or leaves the table. I just think it’s a bit much.

We all have our peculiarities and if you like this woman (and clearly you do), then sweep those small issues aside and enjoy the person for all her good qualities.

As for picking out your clothes and checking you out before you are through the door, this may not be a bad thing if you are a somewhat careless dresser. However, if you are moderately conscious of your dress and appropriateness for the coming event, gently make her aware that you have a style that has evolved over many years and some adjustment may be acceptable, but not a total rebuild! After all, we’ve been picking our own clothes since we were four years old (right?). I personally prefer and enjoy clothes shopping and selecting my own outfits. But I know guys who just hate it. So other than an occasional query and change about a tie selection (just as my wife might have asked me about her jewelry selection), I did, and still do, my own thing.

So go ahead and gently assert your independence and, one way or another, I look forward to seeing your name on the list of Ten Best Dressed Men.

Yours in sartorial splendor,


  1. Tony

    Dear Confused,

    Your choice of moniker could be more spot on than you realize.   It’s nice that this “fabulous” lady is so concerned about your attire.  However, at the risk of playing devil’s advocate, it sounds to me that you may have a bit of a control freak on your hands.  Controlling personalities often work their magic over their partners by keeping them emotionally confused.  Their charm is the bait which lures their partner into their trap of control. They do this usually because of their own insecurity.  You’ve been together for two years, so something must be working so far.  Still, I say be careful.  

    Controlling personalities often start out charming and slowly increase the extent of their control over their partner until they have deprived their partner of most or all of their decision making power.  One sign that you may have a controller on your hands is if the amount of criticism she levels against you starts to gradually outpace the amount of charm that you were so attracted to.  

    If the controller is female, she may also strive to have the benefits of tradition along with the advantages of contemporary standards of equality in male/female relationships.  All perks and little or no responsibility — the basic queen complex.  She may be a gem, but be careful.  Make sure she’s not turning your palace into a prison.


  2. gerry lukeman

    Hal’s advice is superb. It shows great sensitivity to the kind of thinking necessary for any successful , continuing relationship.

  3. gerry lukeman

    Hal’s advice is superb. It show great sensitivity to the kind of thinking necessary for any successful, continuing relationship.

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