Dear Annie: Pouring cold water on romantic entanglements
Dear Annie: A few years ago, I moved into a duplex owned by an old college friend of mine, “Robby,” and his wife. During this time, I became very close friends with Robby’s wife. Earlier this year I moved out. Around this same time, Robby’s wife told him that she was thinking of divorce. The wife pretty much stopped talking to me once I moved out of the residence. However, Robby and I remained close friends. Since then, Robby has continued to confide in me about their marriage and their potential divorce. He started calling and texting all the time. One night when we were out, he told me he should have married me and was in love with me. I have no romantic interest in my friend. How do I get him to understand this? — Confused in Ohio
Dear Confused: Have you tried telling him? That’s a good place to start. Be direct: “I have no interest in you romantically.” Emphasize how much you value him as a friend, but let him know that if he doesn’t quit it with the love talk, you’ll need to take a break from seeing him and talking to him on the phone. Until you’ve stamped out every last ember of hope, he’ll keep stoking the potential flame.
Dear Annie: In response to “Married to a Hoarder”: The guy is apparently ready (finally) to let his son see his mother’s illness. But also he’s still going to suffer the embarrassment of not being able to host other relatives and having no explanation for why he can’t.
Can’t he just say, “I’m sorry, we’d love to have you stay with us, but unfortunately my wife is a hoarder and our spare rooms are all full”?
It would be OK for me to say, “We can’t go skiing because John broke his leg.” (And someone might even come over to help me with some job John would normally have been able to do.) But when the affliction is mental, we can’t mention it. It seems our No. 1 responsibility is to cover up for the ill person. We’re supposed to sacrifice our social life, peace of mind and integrity to keep up appearances. (Which, incidentally, may also help him/her put off recognizing the need for professional help.) — Sick of Secrets
Dear Sick of Secrets: You raise great points. Keeping such issues a family secret serves no one. It enables the afflicted person to keep up the unhealthy behavior, and it leaves the other family members feeling stressed, isolated and alone. That doesn’t mean one should go shouting from the rooftops about a loved one’s disorders, of course. However, there should be no sense of shame in opening up to friends.
Dear Annie: I could have written the letter from “Never Enough” when I was younger. In my 30s, I, too, had everything I thought I needed for happiness. Yet I found myself crying on the porch of “the right house,” married to “the right man,” raising three young children in a community where I was accepted. I found the answer to my emptiness and depression by turning my search inward. I have discovered that it is absolutely true. We are more than a body that houses a mind and will; we are, at our cores, spiritual beings. To be fully alive, we have to recognize our need for spiritual growth. The next material thing that we acquire will never satisfy our innermost longing. “Never Enough” will never buy his way to inner peace. I hope he finds the better way. — Bobbye M., A Friend of the Teacher
Dear Bobbye: I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for writing.