Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: My boyfriend/fiance and my mother do not get along and it bothers me. I've spoken to him about it. He says that because we have had many issues within our relationship, he doesn't feel right about introducing my parents to his parents. My boyfriend and I have been together off and on for six years. Our relationship has been good for the past six months. How can I make him understand that it's important to me that he build a relationship with my mother and that our parents build a relationship with each other? His ex-girlfriend's parents met his parents and they were only together for a couple of months. Please help! Is it wrong of me to ask this of him if he is not ready?

Ms. Confused

DEAR MS. CONFUSED: You can ask anything at all of your boyfriend-slash-fiance. However, you can't make him create or repair a relationship if he doesn't want to.

I'm not sure why you are pushing him to have both sets of parents meet. Other than the fact that his ex's parents met his parents, you don't provide any reason for your urgency surrounding this.

Repairing a relationship with your mother is more important, if you and he are going to stay together. However, given the up-and-down nature of your relationship, he may not see your relationship as lasting long enough to make this reconciliation necessary.

DEAR AMY: I have a unique situation. My first problem is that I don't know if the woman I have been in a relationship with is still in a relationship with me. My situation is complicated:

1) She is married.

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2) I rent an apartment in the building her husband owns, right next door to where they live.

3) Her husband knows about us.

We have been together for over five years. About six months ago she started to withdraw from me. I am frustrated, angry and confused. When I ask her for an explanation about the change in our relationship, I get a "not now" or "just relax" or "just chill" response. I am almost financially able to move my residence. I don't know what to do. I'm interested in your opinion and your recommendation.

Sad and Confused

DEAR CONFUSED: My opinion is that your situation might not be as unique as you claim. In fact, it seems downright cliche.

Your lover has lost interest in you. Whether this is because she wants to preserve her marriage or because she has found someone else -- the circumstances don't really matter.

One hazard of being "the other man" is that you don't have any power when your lover decides to leave the relationship.

I think it's time for you to find new housing.

DEAR AMY: Your response to "Concerned Friends," the couple whose once-active friends have become frail and homebound, was right on the money. My father and stepmother were increasingly homebound the last two years of their lives. They were also dreadfully bored and cruelly lonely. Visits from friends and family were like water in the desert. I'd like to urge readers to please visit the homebound as often as you can. Also please realize that the homebound may not have much to say. There's not much stimulation in their lives. Their mental abilities may be compromised. This means that you, the visitor, must supply stimulation. Can you sing or play an instrument? Describe a cultural or sporting event? Tell jokes? Bring a grandchild who is learning to walk/talk/count to 10/do a magic trick? Demonstrate your newest tech gadget? Your friends may not respond the way they used to. But please, never doubt that your visit made their day and may have prolonged their lives.

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Grateful

DEAR GRATEFUL: In the past few years I have had a lot of experience being with elderly and frail people. I have seen first-hand how relatively easy it is to keep these connections going. Your suggestions are excellent, and I hope others will be inspired to allow their own compassion to deepen through experiencing these old relationships in a new way.