Life Advice



How to Tell Neighbors I Want to Be Left Alone

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: I have been widowed for 1 1/2 years. I have well-meaning neighbors who want to include me in many social activities -- dinners out, movies, parties and meals at their homes.

The problem is that I am an introvert and have never enjoyed parties, movies or most social activities. I also have huge food allergies, which cause migraines. I prefer to be alone, as my husband and I always lived our lives.

Being with people absolutely drains my energy. I am embarrassed by continually saying no, explaining that it is NOT personal to them. I just prefer my quiet lifestyle, occasional visits, but no meals or activities. How do I handle this? I appreciate their thoughtfulness but want no social activities. They are all extroverts and think I need help adjusting to being a widow. No -- I am an introvert. Please help! -- How to Say No

Dear No: I am sorry for your loss. You sound like a very special woman who knows exactly what she needs to heal through her grief. Don't worry about what people will think of you. It sounds like your neighbors just want to help you, and if you explain your situation to them the way you did in this letter, they will know that being left alone is exactly what you need. I applaud your boundaries and celebrate your insight about yourself.

It does show a bias that our world has toward extroverts, and your letter highlights just how special and insightful an introvert can be. I encourage you to read the book "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain.

Dear Annie: I've been cheating on my girlfriend for some time now. Despite that, I've agreed to marry her.


I didn't actually propose to her, but she's so excited about us living together that she kind of proposed to me, and we're getting married in December. The thing is, I really like her. I love her, actually, but there are five different girls who have a crush on me, and I always go out with them when my girl is busy or at work.

So, I can't seem to know how to stop cheating because it feels so good to be with the other girls. But I know that the girl I am with is a great woman and that's what every guy needs. I really want to be with her and eventually marry her. How do you think I should deal with the situation? -- Confused John

Dear Confused John: The best way to deal with this situation is through honesty. You are clearly not ready to settle down and marry right now. It is going to be a very painful conversation for both of you, but it will save a great deal of long-term pain as you figure out what you really want. You have to set her free and not be a pig who has his cake and eats it, too. That will catch up with you in the worst way possible. If you are both truly meant to be together, then you need to grow up and be ready for the commitment of marriage, and she needs to have the freedom and knowledge to decide if she wants to be with you -- the real you!


"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to




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