Dear Amy: I am 21 and just getting into the dating game.
My father is a narcissist and used "love-bombing" — bombing a person with affection, attention, gifts or compliments in order to gain control of the relationship — to get my mom.
I've watched her go through multiple men who used the same tactic. I understand how abusive these men turned out to be. I'm also a psychology student, so I tend to read a lot into things.
My question is: How do I take a compliment without my brain throwing up red flags? I'm having the hardest time talking to people if they give me any sort of compliment.
Amy says: Love-bombing often is used by potential abusers to destabilize and control their partners. Knowing about it can help to protect you in future relationships.
It is important that you always remain true to yourself — but it can be hard to locate that anchor when you're feeling overwhelmed or unsure of an attraction.
I'm happy to report that a compliment is not necessarily the first grenade in a love-bombing campaign.
When I was your age, I countered every compliment with a self-deprecating denial, until a friend responded: "Just say 'Thank you."' The friend was right. "Thank you" is the only response required. After that, keep an open attitude to see what happens next.
Because you are entering this phase of life as a skeptic, a "love bomb" will feel completely fake, inauthentic, premature and manipulative. You will know it when it is lobbed in your direction.
The Facebook invasion
Dear Amy: I used to be on Facebook. I never posted much. I'm a private person and always felt anxious if I did post anything. But my husband lives for it.
A little over a year ago, we lost our son. I wrote a poem about this and texted it to my husband so he could see it.
Later, my sister-in-law told me, "That was a beautiful poem you wrote about your son." She had seen it on Facebook.
I was livid. My husband did not even ask me if he could pass it on. He just took it upon himself to post it. I shared it with him, and he shared it with the world.
My husband's cousin also tragically lost her son a couple of years ago, and my sister-in-law took it upon herself to post this on Facebook to let the family know before her cousin even had a chance to call them herself.
I understand that Facebook is a good way to stay connected to family and friends and (in my husband's case) total strangers. And I realize that much of what my husband shares on it — "We went for a walk today" — is inconsequential.
But I still have started to hate Facebook. It has become so annoying and not private. Am I wrong for feeling angry about these violations of my privacy? It's like it's taken over the world.
Amy says: No, you are not wrong. Your husband either doesn't understand, or doesn't care to understand, what it feels like to you when he violates your privacy.
I am so sorry he has made these choices, which range from annoying you to wounding you deeply. Call him on it every single time until he gets the message. Furthermore, you seem to have a sister-in-law who enjoys leaping over boundaries. Be extremely judicious about anything you choose to share with her.
I agree that Facebook is annoying, intrusive and often destructive to relationships. And that is why I have jumped off that platform.