Dear Anne: My boyfriend of almost three years is very childish. If I do something he doesn’t like he will try to hit back or even score it somehow.

For example, I don’t want to do a particular act in the bedroom. It makes me very uncomfortable. No matter how many times I explain this, he says it’s his favorite thing and if I don’t, it’s a break up. So sometimes I suffer from it, but other times I categorically refuse.

Well, the other day I refused. Now he won’t kiss me anymore. He says since I won’t do this for him, kissing is forbidden until I do.

How is that fair? How do we navigate through this without calling it quits? I want to make him happy, but I also don’t want to do what he asks me to do. Your advice would be greatly appreciated. — Underperforming in Rhode Island

Dear Underachievers: What he is doing is not right at all; in fact, it is cruel. Just because he doesn’t get what he wants, he threatens to stop kissing you? What louse. “His way or the highway” is not a way to have a relationship of mutual love. It’s your body and your choice. He has no right to force you to do anything. I say it might be time to stop.

Dear Anne: I have a few thoughts to share with “Avoiding Ex”, the man who avoids his so-called drama-making ex, and any other divorced parent with adult children. Please grow for the sake of your children and grandchildren. You are, after all, the parents who chose your child’s family to look like her.

My parents separated when I was young and I spent the vast majority of my life cruising on vacation with divorced parents. They have always been friendly to me which was such a gift. Even so, and even though it’s been over 30 years, I still dread that time of year.

There is so much pressure and expectation to juggle parents, family events, etc. It doesn’t matter where I am on Thanksgiving or Christmas, and even though everyone lives within driving distance so I can see both sides of the family every holiday, I still feel like I’m letting people down. There is always a fear that I am not being fair with my time.

I thought adulthood would bring relief, but it only got more complicated as I gained in-laws, children, and other loved ones who have to be added to the complicated holiday equation. It’s exhausting, even under the best of circumstances. The “kids are resilient” line is so often used when parents are divorcing, to which I say we had no choice but to find ways to live with the tension that comes from feeling pulled into several directions.

The “Avoiding Exes” girl is probably hoping for an amicable vacation with everyone she loves in one space. So here are the choices for “Avoiding the Ex” (and I would say the same to his ex-wife): Either graciously accept your daughter’s invitation, check ALL your bags and drama at her doorstep, and enjoy the vacation with the your child’s family — which includes both parents. Or politely decline her invitation without expecting her to rearrange her schedule to find time to spend with you over the holidays.

Either way, you’re choosing to be an adult, and you’re probably giving your daughter the gift of a calm, expectant-free holiday season. My hunch is that this might end up being the best your daughter can remember! — Hates the feeling of being stuck in the middle

Dear feeling of hate stuck in the middle: Thank you for your letter. I hope your excellent suggestions will help navigate vacations in the future – and also help shed some light on parents’ expectations of their children’s time commitments.

To see previous columns “Dear Annie”

“How can I forgive my cheating partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology – featuring her favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation – is available in paperback and e-book form. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]


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