“reign in blood”

Since: May 09

Braidwood, IL

#1 May 4, 2014
DEAR AMY: I wonder if I'm a bad person, or if a certain friendship has run its course.

I have a friend I meet for dinner once a week after a meeting I attend. He moved to this rural area after a work accident, and I'm one of his few friends here.

We share an interest, but for me it's a hobby -- for him it's a passion. Our dinner conversations revolve around this hobby, and I'm getting bored. I feel there's nothing else to talk about.

If things get personal, I fear I'm being untrue to my husband, so I'm careful not to go "there."

I've read about emotional affairs in your column, and this certainly isn't one of them. If anything, I keep such a strict leash on our friendship that it isn't growing.

I feel like a bad person that I don't want to keep having dinner with this guy, who is obviously lonely. He gets quite pushy when I try to beg off, so it's not easy to get space. What's your advice for either growing this friendship or pruning it?-- Bad Person?

DEAR BP?: You may have misunderstood the whole dynamic behind emotional affairs. "Getting personal" in that context is a matter of sharing intimacies that would normally be reserved for a spouse. So no, you should not complain about your marriage or confide in this friend about your husband, but this leaves a great deal of territory for the growth of a friendship. You can talk about current events, issues in your town, taxes, books, movies, etc.

If you genuinely like this person and want to be helpful to him, the most obvious answer is to fold your husband into this friendship. Can your husband join you for one of these dinners? It would also be nice (and neighborly) if you invited your hobby-friend to join you and your husband in a group activity where he could meet some new people.

If you don't want to continue to get together with him, you should tell him it's become too much of a time commitment for you. If he pushes, be firm but friendly and urge him to try to make new connections.

DEAR AMY: I am writing because I am concerned about my mother's self-esteem.

She is applying for jobs after a period of unemployment and frequently makes very disparaging remarks about herself.

I try to boost her self-esteem by telling her about all her positive characteristics -- of which she has many -- but she says she cannot believe what I am telling her.

She seems very discouraged and is constantly repeating the ways in which she believes she is not good enough. I want to boost her self-worth, so she can see all her positive characteristics, but I am not sure what to do. How can I help her?-- Distressed Daughter

DEAR DISTRESSED: You might not be able to single-handedly boost your mother's self-esteem. Self-esteem goes much deeper than confidence-boosting remarks can repair (although this definitely helps).

You should focus on how this affects your mother's job search. Her choice of words -- even her body language -- will influence how a potential employer sees her.

Practice an interview with your mother. For every unsure or negative statement she makes, help her craft an alternative that is both positive and truthful.

Role-play with her, and get her to play the part of the interviewer. When she asks you a question, demonstrate ways for her to present herself, and then switch parts so she can practice.

DEAR AMY: I was intrigued by the letter from "Conflicted Bride," who felt family pressure to have a larger wedding.

My husband and I had a small ceremony in our minister's study, followed by brunch. We wanted to have a nice honeymoon without any money worries. We had a bang-up honeymoon (literally -- two of us went, three came back), which was absolutely perfect.

Fast forward 30 years: We're still married, no debt (house and cars paid off), four kids through college without debt (and two have doctorates!) and a nice retirement.

Do I miss a big wedding? No. I wanted a happy marriage, which is what we have.-- S. Stout

DEAR S: My hero!

Plant City, FL

#2 May 4, 2014
1: Sorry-he's pushy when she backs off? She's giving him dinner once every bloody week and it's not enough? The guy sounds like a loon who needs to meet more friends.

2: She's an adult and this is not a battle you can fix, unless you want to forget yourself and lose your own mind.

“...,to wit”

Since: Jun 09

Location hidden

#3 May 4, 2014
1. He sounds desperate and bored. He had a work accident and he moved to a rural town so he was uprooted from his job and whatever his old community was. That's hard for him, but it is not your responsibility.

If you see him at a meeting, that means there are other people there. Presumably you know them. Actively introduce hm,facilitate a conversation between him and others and back away.

As for the post meeting dinner, this week tell him you are not available next week.

2. Your mom won't get a job that way but at least she is getting interviews which is something. The way to get a job is to network so that the person hiring knows you in advance. Help her network. There are also tons of job search groups at public libraries these days. they include interview techniques. Find those for her , point her in that direction and then back off.

3. I am glad for you, but smugness is not attractive.

Hancock, NY

#4 May 4, 2014
1: I didn't get the impression that the meeting she attends is one that he also attends - just that she meets him for dinner afterwards. Perhaps it's a work meeting and afterwards she wants to go to a restaurant to eat because cooking a meal after a long day and possibly a long drive home is not something she wants to do. Perhaps meeting the friend at the restaurant started out as a way to have a dinner companion and have conversation about their shared interest. It could be a meeting about that interest but I don't see it as necessarily being that. I do agree that if it is a meeting they both attend, it might be a good idea to make sure he meets the other participants. After making introductions over the next couple of weeks, she could then let him know she can't meet him every week for dinner because she has other things she needs to do. Or if, like Amy suggests, she brings her husband along, that might help. However, I suspect that she just doesn't want to know this guy any better and is looking for a way to let the relationship end without adding to his current woes or making herself feel like a bad guy.

2: Aren't their counselors for this kind of thing? It sounds like a vicious cycle. She probably needs a job to pay for the therapist but needs therapy to get through a job interview. Helping out by role playing an interview might be helpful but not everyone is capable of doing that. Beyond that, I have no clue. Hopefully there is a solution and someone can share it.:-/

3: We also had a small private ceremony at the home of a Justice of the Peace with just one of my sisters and her husband as witnesses. I never wished I did anything differently. Despite bumps along the way, our marriage is still going strong after 42 years but so are many marriages that started out with a huge and expensive ceremony and reception. We had our reasons and things worked out for us. I know of others whose marriages started in a similarly inexpensive fashion and some of those didn't last very long. My conclusion is that people have to decide for themselves what they think is important. There are simply no guarantees in life.

Branford, CT

#5 May 4, 2014
L1: Why would you move to a rural town after having a work accident? Unless it was a "mental accident".

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