Q: My son is driving me crazy. He’s worried because I don’t have friends I hang out with. He said it’s not normal for a woman to not want to have friends. I say it is. He said if Dear Abby says I’m OK, he will let it rest.
I work with people between 50 and 70 hours a week. I have more than a thousand townhome and condo residents to deal with, and I receive nonstop complaints day in and day out. On top of that, I must supervise vendors and contractors, answer to several boards, and have up to eight evening meetings a month.
When I finally get home, I don’t want to set up a shopping or dinner date with anybody. I want to sit in peace and quiet. I don’t want to be around people at all. I’m perfectly happy not having friends. Can you see my point? — Lady With No Problem
A: I do see your point, but I can also see your son’s. By turning this into an either/or situation, you may be talking past each other instead of with each other.
While you crave peace and quiet at the end of the day, he worries that you are isolating yourself. Friendships aren’t supposed to drain people; they are supposed to be nurturing. People with rewarding companions they can laugh and commiserate with are happier, less stressed and live longer, so perhaps you should rethink your position.
Q: Ten years ago, when I lived in California, I dated the love of my life, “Tammy.” We were perfect together, and I was often amazed by how much I loved her, which was palpable.
After about two years we broke up, and I moved 3,000 miles away. My rebound relationship lasted a decade and produced a beautiful baby boy. After it recently ended, I reached out to Tammy. We hadn’t communicated in 10 years, and I learned that she is married with three kids and she’s miserable.
She said she misses me and has never stopped loving me. We talk on the phone often, and she says she wants to see me. I have no idea where this is going, but I’d love to see her. We have decided that we will abide by your advice. What should I do? — Nostalgic in New York
A: I’m glad you asked, although I doubt you will heed my advice. Here it is: You and Tammy should postpone any reunions until she has resolved her marital situation because there are more people involved now than just the two of you. Whether she remains in her unhappy marriage is anyone’s guess, but if you step in now, it will only add to her troubles.
Q: How do I respond to a gift when I don’t know whether it’s a gag gift? My sister sent a present that appears to be expensive, but is not only awful, it’s also tacky and weird. She has a great sense of humor, but added no card or message that would give us a clue how to appropriately thank her. — Not Sure in New Jersey
A: I recommend you use the old stand-by: “How sweet of you to remember (me, us, our special day, etc.). Thank you for being such a generous sister!”