Bad Advice On Baby-Name Thievery

Welcome to our latest Bad Advice column! Stay tuned every Tuesday for more terrible guidance based on actual letters.
“I am a 53-year-old single man. I just had a four-month affair with a married lady.
We connected at our high school reunion. She has been married to the same man for 35 years and says I am the only man she ever had an affair with … and I believe her. She told me that she and her husband had not been sexually intimate for three years.
As time went on, I started disliking her criticism and insensitivity toward me, and she has since ended our affair.
She and her husband are leaving the country in a few months for good. I am tempted to tell her husband (I have pictures, if he doesn’t believe me). I want to do this, partly because she hurt me and was very arrogant and insensitive, and partly because I would want to know if I was in his shoes.
Your thoughts?”
— Via “Ask Amy,” Washington Post, 17 March 2017

Dear Reader,

Though you say you are 53 years old, it is clear that you are truly young at heart! The youthful verve with which you approach the woman who scorned you is nothing short of charming, and truly this lady has missed a wonderful opportunity to continue to see a man with a teenager’s vivacious sensibility. No one, least of all a married lady who decided she didn’t want to have an affair with you any more, has the right to stop having an affair with you! Contacting her husband will reverse the sands of time, changing the outcome of your failed relationship and ensuring that her arrogant insensitivity is turned, with magical haste, into submissive accommodation of your every desire.

No one has the right to stop having an affair with you!

Between your plain altruism and overall generosity of spirit, it is obvious that you are approaching this with a clear head and a warm heart, and your overtures will undoubtedly be welcomed by the husband of your former paramour. “Who is this upstanding gentleman sending me all-caps e-mail rants in the middle of the night?” he will ask himself. “I should believe everything he says, and abandon my wife in a foreign country without delay!” You are doing this other man an incredible service and he, seeing that you are operating with the most selfless of intent, will be immediately appreciative of your efforts. Residual misery makes the heart grow fonder, and everything that you desire to happen after you exact your compassionate revenge on this pair will happen exactly as you want it to.

“My only child married an only child. They used to talk about ‘when we have kids.’ Now they’ve decided they’re not having kids (both mid-30s and, no, they are not trying). It’s hurtful because I’ll never be a grandparent and very concerning because when all their parents are gone, they won’t have any family. The husband used to say he wanted to be a father, so it seems he’s just come around to the wife’s thinking — that is concerning as well. There could eventually be resentment. Family gets more important as you get older.
I don’t say much, but I have said to my child that when they get older, there will be no family to spend holidays with, there will be no one to help them. … I think they think life will always be as it is right now.
So, what words do you have for me, and, though certainly they will do what they want, how do I let them know that life and thinking change?”
— From “Weighing on my Mind” via Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, 4 March 2017

Dear Weighing,

It must have come as a shock to this couple to learn that their decision not to have children could result in their aging without having children; I hope that you broke the news to them gently. People who decide not to have children are often confused about how time works, so you have given them an incredible gift in allowing them to hear this revelation from someone who looks forward to collecting their obligatory tribute of grandbabies in due course.

People who decide not to have children are often confused about how time works.

So too, people who don’t have kids fail to understand the true meaning of the holidays, which only count if they are spent with blood relatives — something they’ll realize, of course, when they see that Santa skips their house to teach them a hard lesson about what really matters: having a load of children at the behest of someone who will not be responsible for their care. Children always take care of their parents, and no one ever makes friends or is able to hire caretakers, meaning that there is just one possible outcome for this couple’s rude decision not to procreate at your insistence.

The only reason a husband would choose not to have children is because his wife nagged him into childlessness; people never decide, mutually, that child-rearing is not their cup of tea, and everyone who wants to have children always can. Sadly, fickle men are so easily swayed on this subject, and a number of panicked harangues from a loving parent, reminding him that he will die miserable and alone, will give him all the push he needs to make a decision about becoming a father.

“Ever since I was a young girl, I’ve known exactly what I want to name my future children. Wedding plans, career goals, possible boyfriends, even where I’d want to live — none of these was as clear to me as the names of these future kids. When I played with my Barbies, Barbie and Ken were always renamed ‘Jane’ and ‘John.’ (These are pseudonyms. I don’t want to share the real names for privacy reasons.)
Earlier this year, I married the love of my life, ‘Keith,’ after three very happy years together. Though we’re in no rush to have children, we do want to have a family eventually. Family is important to both of us, and we are lucky to have good relationships with my small nearby family and Keith’s family of two brothers and three stepsisters, all of whom live across the country. Keith’s eldest brother and sister-in-law are expecting a boy, and they just told us that they are thinking of naming him…‘John.’
Though I’m thrilled for them, I am also crushed. Years ago, I mentioned to the soon-to-be parents in passing how I liked the name, and I can’t help thinking they ‘stole’ it from me. I do understand that I don’t have a claim on this name. However, I’m having a tough time letting go of the resentment, and each time I hear people compliment the name choice, it’s like a twist of the knife. I wouldn’t want to be seen as copying them if I were to have a son of my own. What can I do?”
—From “What’s in a Name?” via Annie Lane,, 17 March 2017

Dear What’s In A Name?,

One of the more frustrating consequences to being someone around whom the world revolves is that, occasionally, people will procreate at you out of spite. It was cruel and thoughtless for this couple not to have cleared their future child’s name with you decades ago, when you were yourself a wee tot naming the son you will definitely have, because the universe gives people everything they desire. Don’t let these people’s callousness prevent you from giving this name to your son — just make sure his middle name is “The First,” so that they don’t try any other baby-focused funny business, like having taco nights on Tuesdays or birthday parties at Chuck-E-Cheese.

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