No One Cares Anymore
Dear Annie: I am a 75-year-old woman in good health, and I've been married for 54 years. I have wonderful children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. My problem is that many lifelong friends and most of my family members don't seem to want to maintain a relationship with me. When I contact them, they seem glad to hear from me, but for the past three or four years, there has been no effort on their part to keep in touch with me.
My siblings and I have always been very close and shared things going on with our children and grandchildren. My siblings still talk to each other often, and my one sister-in-law keeps me informed about what's happening in the family. I love my family and friends, but I am about ready to give up on those who don't seem to want to have a relationship with me. I have asked a couple of family members whether they have a problem with me, and they deny there are any issues. I think they probably love me but for some reason don't like me. I have examined my actions and spoken to a counselor and simply cannot find a reason for their distance. Any suggestions? -- Feeling Rejected
Dear Feeling Rejected: You've done all the right things so far by talking to your family about this and consulting a counselor. You mention this has happened only in the past few years, which leads me to think it may just be because everyone's busy with children and grandchildren of their own. Or it could be because the advent of social media has made us lazier about reaching out in general. We check our Facebook feeds and feel content that we know what's going on in loved ones' lives.
Regardless of the reason, your recourse is the same: Get out there in your community and make new friends. Volunteer at a local shelter. Join a book club. Start a neighborhood walking group. And be doubly thankful for all the people in your life who are always there for you. You'll be half as bothered by those who aren't.
Dear Annie: The letter you printed from "To Let It Go or Not," about an old friend's bringing up the time years before when he accidentally walked in on the letter writer's husband with a naked girl, really burned my buns.
Believe me, the "friend" didn't just accidentally let that info slip. Chances are he deliberately brought up the undesirable incident of the past to throw a monkey wrench into their happy marriage. I have seen this done hundreds of times by family members who bring up wrongdoings of other siblings in front of their children, by co-workers who can't wait to expose a mistake that otherwise would have gone unnoticed by others, by friends who embarrass others under the guise of joking. It makes me sick to think that these people are so inwardly miserable and insecure that they need to rain on someone else's happiness.
Shame on this "friend" for stooping so low as to try to deliberately hurt their marriage. Shame on the wife for permitting him to steal their happiness. At least now they can recognize this "friend" for what he really is: a jerk! -- Living Happily Without Those Kinds of Friends
Dear LHWTKF: Well, that's an aspect of that letter I hadn't considered. Thanks for sharing your experience. I'd like to think there aren't that many false friends and saboteurs out there, but you never know.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.