Dear Abby: Woman halts our budding relationship over tidiness issues

After a few minor infractions during his visit to her home, she labels him messy and says she wants some space.

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DEAR ABBY: I’ve become involved with a woman I’ve been friends with for some years. We became close over the course of 2020, and more recently have soft-launched dating (although she doesn’t yet feel comfortable labeling it).

Not long ago, she expressed great disappointment because of my messiness when I last visited her. I had placed an empty coffee cup on her car floor, left my shoes in the middle of her kitchen and knocked some pillows off of the couch, among other things. I know her criticisms are fair, but they were also over the top.

I believe this is a trait I can fix, and I told her I would, but now she wants some space. She said she isn’t sure she can become romantic with a messy person who “doesn’t respect her space.” While I understand where she’s coming from, I’m afraid I won’t have a chance to prove myself. We spoke a little after the incident, but I have tried to honor her request.

Do you have any advice about how to approach the situation? It would be sad if we parted ways after our first real challenge. I think it may be important to note that, in the past, she has dated men who weren’t respectful to her at all. — MR. MESSY IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR MR. MESSY: A serious — but nonconfrontational — conversation with this woman is in order. Does she have a touch of OCD? Or could she be reluctant to become further involved for some other reason — such as a fear of intimacy or her bad luck with prior men in her life?

You need to ask what has caused your otherwise happy relationship to go so far off track, let her know you are willing to work on your “messiness,” and ask her to lay her cards on the table about what else may be bothering her.

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have a beautiful 8-year-old daughter. She was a donor egg baby, as we had had three miscarriages and were unable to bring a baby to term. My question is, when is the right time to tell our daughter that her mother is not her birth mother? I was bullied extensively as a kid, and don’t want this to become a topic to haunt the rest of her school days. — DOTING DAD

DEAR DAD: I’m sorry you were bullied as a child, and I’m glad you asked this question. If your wife carried your daughter to term, she IS the child’s birth mother. She just needed a little “extra help” in the form of a donated egg.

Having reached the age of 8, your daughter is at an age when school curriculum may begin covering reproduction. After she has learned the basics, consider slowly starting to educate her about the various pathways to parenthood. Then, when she is a little older, provide more details about the miracle of her birth. It is important that your child know she can always get honest answers from both of her parents, and at some point, the donor’s medical history may be something she needs to know about.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order “How to Have a Lovely Wedding.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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