No particular way

The more things go “our way” for a while, the more we can believe that that is the way it is supposed to be. And when things don’t go “our way,” which sooner or later they will not, we can get angry, disappointed, depressed, devastated……… forgetting that it was never “supposed to be” any one way at all.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Arriving at your own Door

My partner’s ex texts him every day. Should I be worried?

People stay in touch with exes for all sorts of reasons. Some do it to bolster their ego, says Annalisa Barbieri

Two years ago, I started a relationship with a wonderful older man, but from the beginning something seemed a little off. After we celebrated our first anniversary, I had the shameful impulse to ask to see his phone. He agreed. There I saw what was bothering me: a previous girlfriend had been texting him every day, and he had been replying: photos, kiss emoticons, five-minute-long voice messages. It had been going on every day for the year we had been together.

They apparently had an intense, somewhat problematic, two-year relationship, but she moved abroad. He says they were going to break up anyway. I felt they were being disrespectful towards me and towards themselves, putting all this energy into something that had theoretically ended and not allowing new relationships to fully blossom. He said they texted because they remained good friends, that’s all. That is hard for me to believe. He said he was not aware this could be so damaging to me. He told me he had stopped messaging her so often and that, for him, it made no difference.

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I can’t stand my partner’s mother living with us

My girlfriend and I have a great relationship, but her mother visits for months at a time and I am running out of patience

A few years ago, I met a lovely lady who had just separated from her partner and had two young children. She has since divorced and we have bought a house together. Mostly, everything is great. However, her mother, who lives on the other side of the world, visits the UK two or three times a year – and stays with us for two or three months each time. I cannot keep living with her. She drives me insane! She doesn’t respect the rules of the house and she is always there. I have explained my issues to my girlfriend, but to no avail. I don’t want to lose her, but I am running out of patience.

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Boomers ruined everything? This is no time to play the generational blame game | Oliver Burkeman

These judgments come with a large dollop of bias – we’re all motivated to believe that our age group is superior

As a member of Generation X, I naturally derive much of my self-esteem from reflecting on the fact that I’m neither older nor younger than I am. On one hand, the baby boomers’ ruination of the planet (and the property market) was well under way before I’d even learned to ride a bike. On the other, not being a millennial or Z-er, at least I learned to ride a bike, rather than spending my childhood in a darkened room staring at a screen in preparation for a career writing articles explaining to my elders why the films they liked as teenagers were actually horribly problematic. In short, I have examined the evidence for the merits of each generation, and reached the dispassionate conclusion that mine is best.

Perhaps you’ll object that this is a load of nonsense; my defence is that almost everything we think we know about the generations is nonsense. Partly, that’s just because there’s too much variation within generations to generalise very much, and the lines we draw between them are arbitrary. But it’s also because it’s all but impossible to pick apart what’s attributable to membership of a given generation, versus being a given age. For example, a phenomenon known as the “reminiscence bump” means older people retain more vivid memories of their youth than their middle years, and those memories are more likely to be positive, too. So as you age, and other memories fade, you’re more likely to conclude that life today, and young people, are much worse than in the past.

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My family is split over Brexit, and now we want to move abroad | Dear Mariella

Explain your choices to your parents and don’t tell them they were wrong to vote Leave, says Mariella Frostrup. No matter what happens we all, Remainers and Brexiters, have to learn to live harmoniously

The dilemma We’ve had a child since the referendum, and I feel a Brexit-related chasm is opening up between our family’s generations. My husband and I are moderate in our political views and both voted to remain in the EU. My parents and mother-in-law voted to leave. I look at my daughter and feel devastated that her world is potentially going to be smaller than mine, with fewer opportunities to live, love and work as she pleases. Our own parents are dependent upon us for varying levels of care. This has been mildly frustrating in the past, but we both have loving families and a strong sense of duty. We’ve talked about leaving the UK for a more open and inclusive society, but don’t want to leave our parents dependent on paid-for care. Whichever option we explore, we’re increasingly resentful our parents voted for us to be in this position (based on various arguments, some with racist undertones), and that they don’t even recognise the situation. Should we raise it with them? I fear a permanent rift, but brewing resentment doesn’t feel healthy either.

Mariella replies Talk about the nation’s debate in a microcosm! It was only a matter of time before this toxic political fracas, currently dividing us like the most bitter of divorces, came to haunt lifestyle pages as well as the headlines. So many families and friendships have been torn asunder by the passion disgorged on both sides, with the only comfort being that it’s a long while since people engaged with politics with such ferocity.

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French MPs approve IVF draft law for single women and lesbians

Bill is Emmanuel Macron’s biggest social reform since he was elected in 2017

France has taken a step towards allowing lesbian and single women to conceive children with medical help, setting the stage for a clash with the country’s religious conservatives.

To loud applause, France’s lower house of parliament approved a draft bioethics law in a move that has already sparked outrage from opponents, including some in President Emmanuel Macron’s own centrist party.

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‘I feel protected in the velodrome’: how track cycling helped ease my anxiety

Whizzing around on a bike with no brakes is strangely meditative – and has helped me to rediscover my adventurous, carefree attitude of old

I used to be proud of my carefree, adventurous attitude. I had travelled solo, jumped out of a plane and had a host of other adrenaline-filled experiences. But then, when I was about 27, something changed. I started to feel anxious about everyday things, such as going to the supermarket or driving. I worried about interacting with people, and hundreds of “what if?” situations that might arise when I was out.

I have had bouts of depression for more than a decade. It comes in waves: one moment I am feeling better, then days, weeks, months later it comes crashing back down on me. But anxiety has emerged more recently, in the past four years.

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Fit in my 40s: am I too old to be practising BMX in the park? | Zoe Williams

The hard part, at first, is to trust that you are not going to pitch over the handlebars

Fitness tips: four handy hints for BMX beginners

I am advanced enough in age to know not to be put off when I can’t do something after one hour. I can barely learn a new word in that time, never mind an entirely new way of distributing my weight so that I can jump on a bicycle. Still, I borrowed a BMX from a very kind BMX ultra called Stuart Dawkins and went for a lesson.

BMX riding reminds me a little of parkour. First, there are about five basic moves that look incredibly impressive when someone else does them; you learn these straight away, but are miles away from being able to do them. Second, this is a young person’s game. There is a niche middle-aged woman BMX scene, dominated – possibly entirely populated – by Lesley Reynolds, 53, from Truro, the oldest member of the British team and, sincerely, an inspiration to us all. There is a track in my nearest park, but it is full of six-year-olds. Barging into that would be only fractionally more appropriate than going to soft play.

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