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Relationship on the rocks with man who won't listen

Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: My man of three years and I are at a crossroads. He has gone from my boyfriend, to fiance, back to boyfriend, to friend, to "I don't know what he is now." He showers me with gifts and material things, which really don't mean a lot to me. I thank him often for the things he does, and I reciprocate them.

What matters more to me are simple gestures like checking to make sure I get home safely, accepting and acknowledging my friends, acknowledging me on Mother's Day, asking how my day was, taking me out from time to time instead of always saying he doesn't want to go.

I have explained to him time and time again how I want to be treated, but it goes in one ear and out the other. I have given him chance after chance to get it right, to no avail. I am tired of this. It's like we're speaking different languages. Is it time for me to move on? -- IMPATIENT IN ALABAMA

DEAR IMPATIENT: Yes, it is. If, after three years, your man still hasn't gotten the message that material things are unimportant to you, and being treated with consideration is paramount, then it isn't going to happen. He isn't the man for you.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 34-year-old female who still lives with her dad. When I start a job search, he says things like, "You've got your bachelor's degree; you'll be fine!" or, "You're a hard worker; you've got this job in the bag!" Then my hopes are raised, only to be dashed when the rejection letters arrive, which makes me feel angry and useless.

It also doesn't help my confidence when Dad says things like, "You'll never be able to afford an apartment," or, "Best you just stay here in town and get a job." I would like to leave this town someday and actually live on my own. How do I rise above my dad's expectations of me? -- FEELING STUCK IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR FEELING STUCK: It will happen as soon as you stop allowing your father's expectations -- whether positive or negative -- to affect you. Because of the economy, many people, through no fault of their own, live in multigenerational households. The impact on them has been emotional as well as financial. If you can't find a job in your ideal profession, take something that's available. Your future will work itself out as the economy improves, and while you may not have your dream job right now, the one you desire can still happen, so don't give up.

DEAR ABBY: My mother has been visiting family members' graves each year for many years. In the past she placed cut flowers on the graves, but recently she has begun leaving live potted flowers. What I learned recently is, the day after a major holiday she and her friend return to the cemetery, remove them and take them home. When I asked her why, her response was, "If I don't take them, someone else will." Am I wrong to think this is odd, or is this now a common practice I am not aware of? -- UNUSUAL IN THE WEST

DEAR UNUSUAL: I checked with two cemeteries here in Los Angeles where I reside and asked if what your mother has been doing is common practice. Both said they had never heard of such a thing. Cut flowers are removed weekly from the graves after they wilt; potted plants are allowed to remain for the family to maintain when they visit.

DEAR ABBY: I retired a year ago from a stressful job because I couldn't take what it was doing to my health. Despite a divorce after a 35-year marriage 10 years ago, I had recovered financially. I was lucky to have landed a job in my early 30s that had an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan, and I contributed to it for 34 years, putting in as much as I could. I am able to collect enough Social Security and withdraw a small amount from the 401(k) to live as I did when I worked.

I always had hobbies, interests and things I wanted to do but never had time for. I have been very happy and busy ever since. During the quarantine, getting groceries was a bit of a challenge, but I live simply and had no problems.

I am shocked at all the furloughed people who are having fits and complaining that they are bored out of their minds. This should be a wake-up call that they need to get a life. For these people, retirement is going to be really hard. Also, they need to plan for the future and have a six- to 12-month emergency fund.

I have put old home movies on DVDs, reorganized photo albums, cleared out a lot of stuff to simplify my life, put in a vegetable garden, made a quilt. COVID or not, I am a busy woman. Can you encourage all those bored people to learn a new craft, try a new recipe, make a birdhouse, something other than call this busy woman and distract me from my projects? -- LIVING IT UP IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

DEAR LIVING: No, but you should certainly consider doing it. You can also make yourself less available to the complainers by putting your phone on mute during the hours you prefer not to be disturbed. This is not to say your suggestions aren't good ones, just that I have urged readers for years to prepare well in advance for retirement and discuss with their spouse (if they have one) how the realities of daily living will change when it comes to chores and conserving personal space.

DEAR ABBY: A man has been reaching out to me on social media for three years. He claims to be in love with me (after having met me once, briefly), and I think I believe him.

It's hard to explain, but I think I may feel the same way toward him. The problem is, I have ignored him for the last three years. I blocked him on all social media, but he keeps finding ways to contact me. He even had flowers delivered to my house. To tell the truth, I ghosted him because I'm terrified of what our "love at first sight" connection could mean. I have been hurt in the past, and I know a relationship of this magnitude could destroy me emotionally.

I feel terrible for ignoring him, but my friends and family insist that he is a stalker, and they would never understand if I decided to pursue a relationship with him. I feel paralyzed. What should I do? -- CONFUSED OUT EAST

DEAR CONFUSED: If a relationship of this magnitude could destroy you emotionally, then I do not recommend pursuing it. Sane individuals who have been ignored for three years usually take the hint and walk away. Listen to your family. What this man has been doing is, to say the least, unusual and could, indeed, be considered stalking.