Ask Amy

Monday, January 4, 2010 at 11:45pm

DEAR AMY: My boyfriend and I broke up seven months ago and are going our separate ways. Unfortunately, we are still living together as roommates while we try to sell our house.

I have decided to start dating again and not put my life on hold any longer. I don't know how long it will take for our house to sell, but I want to start my life over again and try to find a nice guy and settle down.

I have a daughter and would like to get her life back to normal as soon as I can.

I have met someone and we have gone out a few times, but I'm not sure how to tell him about my situation. I want to be upfront and honest but not scare him away. How do I go about this? When is a good time to tell him?

— Trying to Start Over

DEAR TRYING: You don't say how old your daughter is, but all of your choices should be taken with her interests and well-being in mind.

That having been said, the time to mention your awkward living situation is sooner rather than later.

You need to think about what would be going through your mind if the guy you were interested in said, "I'm still living with my ex as roommates until we sell the house."

As the economy continues to be unstable and the housing market is in the tank, the phenomenon of exes cohabiting as "unhappy bedfellows" is becoming more common, but this disclosure is bound to raise questions, so get it out there early. Be prepared with answers.

I would say this is a third-date disclosure.

Hope for the best but be prepared to hear him say, "When you work out your housing issues, give me a call."


DEAR AMY: Several months ago, my boss gave me a horrible review, stating that she found my work, demeanor and even my wardrobe unacceptable. She unsuccessfully tried to get me terminated.

I had bent over backward for her for a year, during which time she never once stated she was not pleased with me. She asked for a new assistant and got one.

Now, it seems that her new "better-than-me" assistant cannot keep up with her duties (though she has plenty of time for smoke breaks).

My office manager tells me that I must assist the new assistant with mundane tasks such as filing.

I find this request insulting and demeaning, especially since three months ago I was told that my work was not making the grade.

Suddenly my services are in demand because of someone else's shortcomings.

I realize that during these tough economic times, I am lucky to have a job.

How do I get past my resentment, put on a happy face and step up to the plate?

— Resenting the J-O-B

DEAR RESENTING: Your choice may actually change the dynamic in your office — so try to see this as an opportunity.

My very first boss gave me an invaluable piece of advice I've never forgotten when she said to me, "Don't ever make an enemy at the office. You don't need to be friends with everyone, but if you can't be friends, be neutral."

I pass this along because if you can rise above office politics, you (and your career) will benefit.

You should speak with the office manager to clarify your duties. Don't speak ill of your former boss or her incompetent assistant.

Before your conversation, challenge yourself to seize this professional humiliation and see what you can make of it. For inspiration, read "Peaks and Valleys: Making Good and Bad Times Work for You — in Work and in Life," by Spencer Johnson (Simon & Schuster, 2009).

Your success is the best professional revenge.


DEAR AMY: Regarding the question of whether to tell a woman she's trailing toilet paper through a restaurant, my criterion for whether to tell someone something potentially embarrassing is to determine whether I would want to know.

If so, I preface the remark with, "I am going to tell you this because if it were me, I would want to know."

— Carefully Considerate

DEAR CONSIDERATE: Telling beats an embarrassed silence, at least in my mind.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com

Filed under: Lifestyles