Trust her instincts and tell him goodbye
Dear Annie: I have been dating a gentleman for the past two years. He is very effeminate, and people often ask me if he is gay. In fact, I knew from the start that he had had homosexual experiences in the past and basically lived a gay lifestyle for over 20 years. He'd had only a few dating experiences with women. Before me, he had never been in a relationship (with a male or female) for more than six months.
After dating and being intimate with this man for two years, my instincts tell me he indeed may be gay. I have asked him point-blank whether he desires men, and he said he was never content with that lifestyle. However, I found sites on his computer for male porn. Do I trust my instincts and break it off? Confused in California
Dear Confused: Yes. Living as a gay man for 20 years is not a "lifestyle" to be changed on a whim. He could be bisexual, but if he is still looking at gay porn, he either hasn't come to terms with his sexuality, or he's using you as cover. It's time to say goodbye, and please get checked for STDs, just in case he's been playing both sides of the fence.
Dear Annie: I am writing about my mother's persistent need to tell me all about the lives of her friends. I can't take it anymore.
During a recent shopping trip, Mom ran into three acquaintances, and after talking to them, she proceeded to tell me about their medical problems, family problems and other information that's none of my business. After chatting with "Bob," she told me about his alcoholism and recent heart surgery.
I don't know any of these people, and I really don't need or want to know any of this stuff. When I told Mom, "Enough," she said I was rude and self-centered. I told her she was gossip-obsessed. She then said we obviously have nothing in common and very little to talk about, both of which are true.
Mom has never had any hobbies or interests, and she spends a lot of time on the phone yakking with her friends. Annie, was I wrong to ask her to please stop telling me about her friends' personal lives? Gossip-Free in Pennsylvania
Dear Gossip-Free: You were not wrong, but surely you must have known Mom would react poorly to such a request. You disapprove of her and it shows. There must be something you can discuss that is enjoyable for both of you -- a favorite book, movie or TV show. Instead of finding fault with her conversation, make an effort to find a substitute topic. She's your mother. Work on it.
Dear Annie: I feel compelled to write to "Down and Out in a New Town," who was having trouble making friends. That could have been me. After nine corporate moves in 16 years, I felt isolated and ended up being treated for depression. I am much happier now and hope I can offer some advice:
First, get out of the house! Force yourself if you have to. Then, do activities where you interact with other adults. Volunteering is a great way to meet those with the same interests as you.
Church is a great place to meet people. There are usually many groups to join.
Join an exercise class. Don't go to the gym by yourself, but do yoga or Pilates with a group, and then invite some of your classmates out for coffee afterward.
Get to know your neighbors by having a backyard barbecue.
Get a part-time job, even if you don't need the money. It exposes you to people with whom you have something in common.
From her letter, "Down and Out" sounds like she's on the right track. I'd love to meet her for coffee so we could chat. Been There and Worse
Dear Been There: Your suggestions are practical and helpful, and we hope any lonely readers out there will try them. Thanks.
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