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Should I Give Up My Last Name Because My Ex's New Fiancée Wants It, And Other Advice Column Questions

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There are too many excellent advice columns to keep up with, so we're committed to bringing you links to the best advice column questions and answers every week. Here's a roundup of the most interesting, thought-provoking and surprising questions that our favorite columnists (and subreddits) addressed in recent days.

Do I Need To Give Up My Last Name So That My Ex's New Fiancée Can Have It?

My ex-husband's new fiancée recently contacted me, insisting that I give up my last name. She and I just happen to share a first name, which is unsurprising. It's a name that is as common as Hannah or Elizabeth. I think she wants the name to herself, which is understandable, but I still don't want to change it. It has been my name for nearly 20 years, which is almost half my life and my entire adult life.

My reasons are not personal but professional: I married my husband in my early 20s, while in grad school (my diploma is in my married name) and so are all my major publications. We divorced amicably some time ago, and I never bothered to change my name; it just seemed easier to keep my married name. Since then, my career has really taken off, and I'm fairly well known in my field.

My ex's fiancée thinks I'm "sick and stuck in the past" and that I should be "embarrassed to not let things go." That isn't the case at all. It's true that my ex and I talk rarely; we are polite when we do see each other. Though my ex-husband is indifferent about the name change, he won't get his wife to back off.

Is it terrible and unethical to keep it? 

[The New York Times]

Kwame Anthony Appiah points out that if the ex's new fiancée wants to distinguish herself from the letter writer, she could hyphenate her last name or keep her maiden name. "I would ask her to stop communicating with you about this," he writes. "What's embarrassing here is her behavior, not yours." Read the rest of his answer.

Was I Wrong To Ask A Woman To Have Sex With Me Twice, Even After She Blocked Me?

I am really new in the world of relationships. I had a problem during these days because some friends believed that my conduct to a lady was inappropriate.

One month ago I saw the WhatsApp story of a lovely girl, who put two pictures on it. The first one was a rock band, and the second one was had the label "Let's make love". I am really attracted to her, so I thought that the moment was appropriate to tell her to have sex with me. After talking to her for a while, I decided to tell her my intentions. So, I said to her "lets have sex". Unfortunately, my proposal was taken as an offense, and she blocked me from WhatsApp.

Two days ago I found her on Instagram, and I decided to apologize to her, but also to ask her if she had decided to have sex with me or not. I think I am a reasonably open minded person. I was blocked again.

This Friday a friend called me, and he said to me that I was harassing her. I think my intentions were misunderstood because I asked her both times if she agrees or disagrees. I was going to accept her response if she said no because I believe that her body is hers, and she has the final decision on whether she wants to make it out with a person or not.

Do you think that my attitude was inappropriate at all?

[Paging Dr. Nerdlove]

Harris O'Malley emphatically affirms that the letter writer's attitude was inappropriate. "You need to take several steps back from dating and put all of your effort on learning social norms and understanding how to read the room," he writes. "Until you do, and until you understand every mistake you made in sequence, you really shouldn't be trying to date or get laid." Read the rest of his answer.

Am I A Jerk For Secretly Replacing My Girlfriend's Expensive Shampoo With Cheap Drugstore Shampoo?

My (27M) girlfriend (25F) is really into what she calls "self-care." We don't live together but I spend the night at her place and have to shower there before work a lot. Whenever I shower there she asks me not to use her shampoo and conditioner and to use the other ones in the shower. I thought this was weird and asked her why the other day. She told me she buys custom shampoo! I looked it up and it costs $32 to order!! I think that is such a waste of money and told her that. I've used the stuff and it isn't any different from any other shampoo. I feel like she's being scammed and is just wasting her money on vanity.

She doesn't agree and I wanted to help her see what I mean. I bought shampoo and conditioner the same color from the brand my mom uses (I think it's called VO5) and replaced the stuff in her bottles. After she showered the other day, I told her how nice her hair looked. She responded "that's why I use my custom shampoo." So she proved my point! I told her what I did and she freaked out just because I threw her stuff away and helped her save money. She told me to leave and got really upset and said I made her feel dumb. Now she texted me that she has to reconsider if I'm emotionally mature enough for her.

She's being crazy but am I an asshole? What does shampoo have to do with emotional maturity?

[Reddit via Twitter]

The commenters on the r/AmItheAsshole subreddit generally agree that the letter writer is the asshole. "You were so desperate to prove that she was being 'dumb' that you poured out and wasted the shampoo and conditioner, directly undermining your own point," one of them writes. "You destroyed something that your girlfriend enjoyed and spent her own money on just to feel superior." Read the rest of their answers.

Should I End My Engagement Because My Fiancée Wants To Serve An Ingredient My Ex Is Allergic To At Our Wedding?

I am a 28-year-old woman scheduled to marry another woman later this year. I also have a best friend, "Kasidy." Kasidy and I were a couple for 11 years (we came out to each other on the same day and started dating immediately after that) before deciding to just be friends. This new dynamic took some work to adjust to, but these days we're indistinguishable from any close female friends, with all the casual intimacy that that entails. For a timeline, I met my fiancée two years ago, which was about two years after Kasidy and I broke up. 

In general, my fiancée understands that Kasidy and I have a special connection. But recently we had an argument I'm not sure how to solve. We were tasting menus for the wedding last weekend. I said that I didn't want the menu to include tomatoes because Kasidy is mildly allergic. I don't want my best friend to have to worry about picking and choosing safe dishes on my wedding day — she should be able to eat anything she wants. My fiancée, who is from a culture where tomato-based sauces are extremely common, said that this is unreasonable and that as long as Kasidy can eat one of the meal options, there's no reason to restrict the menu. I was very offended by this exchange and told Kasidy about it (she was more amused than anything and didn't care about the tomatoes as much as I did). But the fact that I told Kasidy about this upset my fiancée even more. She said she worries a lot about what Kasidy thinks of her, and it harms our relationship when I tell Kasidy about our fights.

I feel like my closest friendship is under attack. If this is how my fiancée feels, I'm prepared to call off the wedding. But is there anything I can do to save the situation before it comes to that?


Danny M. Lavery points out that the letter writer is the one who is bringing drama into this situation. "You say yourself that Kasidy doesn't mind and isn't nearly as concerned about her 'mild' allergy as you are, and that your fiancée is generally understanding of your relationship with Kasidy and was willing to make sure there was something Kasidy could eat during the dinner reception," he writes. Read the rest of his answer.

Should I Be Forced To Wear Baggy Clothes At Work Because HR Thinks My Figure Is Distracting?

I am a relatively attractive woman in my early 20s who recently got promoted to being an engineering administrator for a hotel in my area. I was a painter for the building before and wore baggy paint suits, but now I work a desk job and have upgraded my wardrobe accordingly. I am thin but have curves and I get regularly hit on, but I think I have been dressing business casual/business.

I got called into HR and was told I can't dress up anymore and I have to wear a polo and pants. And the reason in a nutshell? I was too much of a distraction. HR said, "Well, everyone is used to you wearing baggy painting clothes. Once you started dressing up people noticed you have curves, and a lot of cat calling and looks were going on behind your back." This is really offensive. I like looking and feeling good and am excited to wear office job clothes! Is this okay or normal? This is my first white collar job and I am feeling targeted/ discriminated against.

[Ask A Manager]

Alison Green points out that the problem is with the cat-callers, not the letter writer. "If people are cat-calling and make comments about your appearance, that's sexual harassment and your employer needs to shut that down with them — not tell you to change what you're wearing," she writes. Read the rest of her answer.

How Can I Make My Friend's Son Give Up His Stuffed Animals?

I have a friend who is the father of a 12-year-old son. My friend's son's bedroom is filled with stuffed animals. These are not "guy" toys, but pink, yellow, orange, etc., stuffed animals. We have tried to tell the dad that this is not appropriate for a young man, but he just scoffs at us. There are hundreds of these stuffed animals in this child's room.

What are your thoughts?

[Tribune Content Agency]

Amy Dickinson urges the letter writer to mind their own business. "[I]t's not for you to judge the type of toys this child collects," she writes. "It's also not for you to judge whether stuffed animals are sufficiently masculine for someone else's child to play with." Read the rest of her answer.

LV Anderson is the news editor at Grist and an advice column aficionado.

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