Feelings for longtime friend are not reciprocated

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: My longtime friend "Bonnie" and I have been reconnecting during COVID, mostly via text and video chatting. She's recently moved back to my area (she's in the military), so we spent a weekend together helping her move in. It was exhausting and stressful, and her drinking concerned me. I know drinking is prevalent in the military, and as a relatively high-ranking officer, she's under a lot of pressure all the time. I'm more aware of it because my sister is a recovering addict.

I'm a queer lady. Bonnie is gay, and over the last couple months I've been nursing a crush on her. She's very supportive of my artwork, and over the years has been the one doing the work to keep our friendship alive despite our lives going in different directions.

I told her I had a crush on her during the stressful moving weekend and asked her to please not tell me about all the girls she texts. She responded that she does not return those feelings for me. But we talk on the phone for hours at night, and she calls me "Baby" sometimes. She also tells me I'm sexually magnetic. Our lives are intertwined enough that both our parents think we're dating, and Bonnie frequently says things like, "My neighbor thinks we're dating."

How do I keep both our friendship and my sanity? -- CRUSHING IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR CRUSHING: Regardless of what others might think, you and Bonnie are not dating, and she has told you plainly that she's not physically attracted to you. She was honest with you, I'll give her marks for that. Whether she's being completely honest with herself, however, is anyone's guess.

My advice is to stop allowing her to monopolize as much of your time as she has been. It isn't good for you because it keeps you from looking for a companion who can reciprocate your feelings. If you continue as things are, you will only subject yourself to more of the confusion you are feeling now.

DEAR ABBY: My wife of 46 years keeps telling me about her deprived childhood. Everybody else had a color TV; the one she grew up with was a black-and-white. Granny didn't have a dryer; she had to use a clothesline. They didn't have a car, and when they finally got one, it was a used car. Finally, they had a new car, but it was stolen two weeks later.

All the other girls had ballet lessons; all the other girls were in Brownies. When Granny finally signed her up, it was too late. My wife had to get a used Brownie uniform that didn't fit, and they put her in a troop with Girl Scouts much older. She always wanted a swing-set, but never got one.

Is there counseling and group therapy for this self-pity condition? I'm laughing to myself and my tears are getting into my beer. -- HAD IT ROUGH, TOO

DEAR HAD IT: I would like to think your wife has it a lot better now, but to be married to someone as insensitive as you appear to be can hardly be an upper. Go pour yourself another pilsner before your tears dilute this one and bring you down further, Laughing Boy.

DEAR ABBY: Three years ago, I found out my husband had sexually abused one of his nieces. He took a lie detector test, failed it and confessed. Learning the truth was devastating, and I felt like a fool for having believed him.

We have two children together, both teenaged boys. I had to give my boys the bad news about what their father had done and the reason I could no longer be with him. He had to move out because he was restricted from being with minors. There were so many changes.

Then came the news that their father was arrested and sentenced to six years in prison. I was emotionally drained. I have always been honest with my boys and have never kept anything from them. Because I've had to give them so much bad news, I have tried my best to give them the happiest times that I could. Soon after, he was sent away.

I received word that when he gets out, he will be deported to Mexico. This is something I haven't told my boys yet. They are talking about having a life with their father. When he gets out, they will both be adults. My youngest talks about living with him. When they find out, they will be heartbroken.

They have been doing so well. We've come a long way, and we're finally in a happy place. I don't know how or when to tell them. Should I do it now or wait until closer to his release date? I'm just over the sadness. -- EMOTIONALLY DRAINED

DEAR EMOTIONALLY DRAINED: Hang onto your happiness because you deserve all of it that is coming your way. You and your sons have been put through an ordeal not of your making. I see no reason to burden them further with this unhappy news until closer to the time of your husband's release. By then they will be older and better able to adjust to what it will mean if they choose to live with or spend time with their dad.

DEAR ABBY: I am an older woman who is not very attractive. I didn't inherit good looks. This bothers me because all my women friends are married or have been in relationships.

People say looks don't matter, but they are mistaken. The first thing someone sees is your face and physical presence. I keep myself neat and nicely groomed, but I'm not pretty. What do I do to lift myself from this depression? I'm ashamed of my face. -- FACING IT IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR FACING IT: Everyone has strong points that make them unique. My mother used to say that the most effective cosmetic is a smile. You might have better luck if you focus less on what you think you don't have and start concentrating on what you do have to offer.

Not everyone is a beauty contest winner, and they manage to couple up and have healthy relationships with the opposite sex (and sometimes the same sex). Do you have a special talent, a pleasing personality or a good sense of humor? You appear to have a serious case of low self-esteem.

The solution to your problem might be as simple as widening your circle of acquaintances by getting involved in activities you enjoy. But before doing that, it might be in your interest to talk with a licensed mental health professional for help in becoming less critical of yourself.