Dear Annie: I desperately need your help. I thoroughly love my solitude. I love to garden, cook, sew and read. I grill every few weeks and make it a fantastic outdoor experience just for me.
I could hardly wait to retire so I could finally enjoy myself completely. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way. Between my neighbors, relatives and even former in-laws, my time is no longer my own. I am interrupted while doing yard work or sitting on my deck. And heaven forbid I begin to grill. One person has figured out how often I grill and tends to arrive at that time and finagle an invitation. When I make an excuse to prevent the intrusion, he turns it into a guilt trip.
I am at the end of my rope. I no longer look forward to good weather, because I know it means another season being bothered by intrusive people. How do I stop this without turning everyone into an enemy?
— Want My Solitude Back
Dear Want: These people are taking advantage of you, and you are permitting it because you fear they will dislike you otherwise. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries on this behavior. It’s perfectly OK to say you are not up to having company, that you would prefer to be alone, that you don’t have enough food to invite them for dinner or that you cannot entertain at the moment. You don’t have to give excuses or reasons. It is your home. Escort them to the door while repeating that you are so sorry you cannot accommodate them. If you do it enough, they will understand that you are not the local coffee shop, and they will be more respectful of your time.
Dear Annie: I was dating this amazing girl for a few months, when all of a sudden, she up and told me her feelings toward me had changed. She won’t tell me what happened or why she doesn’t want me in that way anymore. The most confusing part is that she still calls me at 3 in the morning just to talk, or gets me to stay up all night because she can’t sleep and doesn’t want to be alone. When I see her, she still has that look on her face that says I just made her day.
It’s very confusing, and I don’t know what to make of it. I still have feelings for her. It’s been a few months, and I don’t know how to broach the subject.
— Dazed and Confused
Dear Dazed: For your own mental health, please break things off completely. We don’t doubt that this girl is fond of you, but not in a way that will make you happy. She is treating you like a puppy: something to cuddle when she’s feeling low, but otherwise left in the kennel. Tell her you are finished taking on the role of platonic confidante, and stop answering her late-night calls. You cannot get over her if you remain involved in the hope that she will change her mind. You can do better.
Dear Annie: “Animal Lover” makes a valid point that no one wants an animal to soil their carpets. I have a solution.
Please tell your readers that there are doggie diapers (for females) and belly bands (for males) that can be found at pet shops and on the Internet. My elderly boy wears his belly band daily because his medication causes frequent urination.
These options should make it easier for hosts to welcome their canine guests. It also provides pet owners options for their own homes. There is no reason to give up your elderly or medicated canine or to suffer unnecessarily. That’s when our furry children need us the most.
— Please Share
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
— Creators Syndicate Inc.