4/9/2021 8:02:00 AM Vegan girlfriend imposes beliefs on meat-eater
DEAR HARRIETTE: I've recently started dating a woman who is a lifelong vegan. She is very health-conscious, and she even has a website and YouTube channel dedicated to her plant-based lifestyle. While I admire her dedication to veganism, I myself have never been a vegan, nor do I wish to be.
My girlfriend has "joked" a few times about how she plans to convert me into a full-fledged vegan. Whenever we go out to eat, she gets upset if I choose a meal that has meat in it. I've never liked being told how to live my life or feeling like someone is forcing their ways on me. I don't appreciate the judgment she passes whenever I eat what I want to eat. How can I fix this? -- Non-Vegan
DEAR NON-VEGAN: You two need to have a serious conversation about values and boundaries. Explore what values and beliefs you share. Where do your ideas about life sync up, and where do they not? Talk openly about your beliefs, and consider whether your differences are manageable or too far apart. Talk about the way you eat in this context. It is possible for the two of you to be in a relationship when you don't eat the same foods, though it won't be easy. It may require that you both cook, for example, so that when you eat at home, you each get to enjoy the food that you prefer.
You need to directly address her judgment over your eating habits. Explain that you know that her food choices are important to her and you would never stand in her way, but you expect the same respect for your choices. Be clear that you do not want to become a vegan, and you want her to stop proselytizing. Now, if you eat in an unhealthy manner and your body needs to get well, you may want to talk about ways to improve your eating -- but without the judgment.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter recently told me that she wants to move out of state by herself. She just graduated from college and is very independent, but I really want her to stay closer to home without clipping her wings. When I graduated from college, I was engaged to be married, so I left home and moved to a different state from my family, and I deeply regret that. I know that these are different times, but I would still like her to stay close to home. How do I broach the subject without making her feel that I am stopping her from exploring her adult life? -- Empty Nest
DEAR EMPTY NEST: Your job as a parent is to prepare your child to become an adult. That means that you give her the wisdom and knowledge about how to take care of herself without your supervision. This is hard for parents sometimes because on one hand, we want our kids to grow up, but on the other, we want them to stay close to us.
You have to prepare to let go -- now. Allow your daughter to make her own decisions. Let her move wherever she wants to move, and give her your blessing. You can tell her that she is always welcome to come home and that you will miss her terribly, but you have to encourage her to make her own decisions. Do not talk about your regrets right now. That will guilt her. Let her go.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.