Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Pulling My Hair Out

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: I left a relationship of six years when my boyfriend became physically and emotionally abusive. We have two children together.

With my children's well-being as my first priority, I decided to stay in the same town so they could have full access to their dad. Here's the problem: My ex keeps trying to win me back, and I am not interested. Whenever I see him in order to drop off the kids for visitation, he always asks me to spend some time alone with him. I always decline, but he is persistent. It has become an uncomfortable situation for me. And if I have my new boyfriend (or anyone) with me when he comes to drop off the kids, he turns around and takes them back to his place.

I don't want him to ruin my new relationship, but I still have to find a way to get my children to my ex. How do I make these weekly transitions less painful and awkward? -- Pulling My Hair Out

Dear Pulling: It might help if you could arrange the transfer of the children without your direct involvement. That means allowing someone else to meet your ex in a neutral location to hand over the kids, and then repeat the procedure when they are to be returned. If your ex is not cooperative and withholds the children when it's time for them to come home, you should speak to your lawyer or a mediator. And please keep your new boyfriend out of the picture during pick-up and drop-off times. His presence only makes a difficult situation worse.

Dear Annie: I have been friends with "Sarah" for seven years, since we were in high school. After college, we continued to stay in touch, even after I married.

Last summer, Sarah got a new boyfriend. Since then, she rarely returns my calls or answers my emails. She often promises to write more next time and asks me to be patient, saying she really wants to see me.

I am surprised to find that Sarah has become such a fair-weather friend when I've gone out of my way to keep in touch. Recently, Sarah mentioned that she would be in my city and that she'd like to meet up for lunch. After a few days passed, I called to ask whether she was still interested, and she said she'd already come and gone.


Is it time to cut off this friendship and explain my reasons? Maybe she'd shape up. Her infrequent emails and texts imply that she still considers me a friend, although apparently only when she feels like it. -- Sad Sack

Dear Sad: You can tell her why you're unhappy if you like. But it is not uncommon for some women to be so enthralled by a current beau that they neglect their female friendships. Things may normalize in time, but it will require a lot of patience from you. We suggest you put Sarah on standby status for now. Continue to email and text occasionally in order to keep in touch, but don't expect more. Either she will come around or the friendship will fade away naturally.

Dear Annie: I applaud your answer to "Feeling Inconvenienced," the woman who is uninterested in developing a relationship with her son-in-law's 5-year-old from his first marriage. May I take that answer a step further?

Dear Inconvenienced: Your choice will either forge a greater bond with your daughter than you have ever known, or it will create a chasm never to be bridged in your lifetime. Make the right choice. Give this child every bit of unconditional love you are capable of. Not only will you leave a precious legacy for the little one long after you are gone, but you will reap a harvest of inner joy for yourself beyond anything you could imagine. -- Grandmother in Azusa, Calif.


"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2017. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at




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