Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: I have very strong feelings for a guy. I’m starting to fall in love with him! He and I have gotten really close over the past few months. We are basically great friends who have both admitted to having feelings for each other. He has made a few comments about how “wifey, etc.,” I am, but then he follows up with this: “too bad about timing.” He just got out of a long-term relationship. Not only was he hurt emotionally, but so were his teenage kids. I know he’s cautious and scared to date anyone right now. I know he’s not ready to bring a person home to meet his kids. He confessed this to me last week. I see how perfect he and I really are for each other. I see how well our personalities match. I know you can’t make someone love you. I know he trusts me more than most people in his life, even some friends and family. He also said he’s waiting for the other shoe to drop because I can’t be so perfect. Is there any way I can help him to lower his guard? Can you help me make him truly see how great we would be together?

Wannabe

DEAR WANNABE: “Earl” is right about timing. When you reach a certain life stage, especially when there are teenage children involved, timing really is everything. Teenagers, especially those who have been burned, are wise and wary about people.

And you are right too. You cannot make someone love you.

In your case, since it seems that you have been honest about the depth of your feelings, you might do best to step back. Giving this man some respectful space might force him to ponder where you fit into his life. He would ponder this very differently if you were basically in his face, pushing for a relationship and eager to meet his children. I sense this would be very hard for you, but sometimes when you really care about someone, it is best to give him the freedom to test his own feelings and make his own choice.

DEAR AMY: At my recent housewarming party, I had the good fortune to receive a number of gift cards from places I was eager to visit in order to get my home in order. I got a blank envelope with several of these cards tucked inside, so I did not know who to thank for this generous gift. I tried using one of the cards, and the checkout clerk said the card had been loaded before by a certain relative of mine (she gave me the person’s name), but the clerk said the card had been used to depletion. Aghast, I paid for the things I picked out and left, to try another gift card from the blank envelope. That, too, was empty. Amy, what sort of person gives used-up gift cards? I didn’t say anything to the donor, but one of my cousins said the donor bragged about giving me the useless gift cards. Apparently, this gesture was intended as a hurtful prank. Would it be so bad for me to quietly tuck three or four of those cards in the donor’s junk drawer next time I’m at the person’s house, so they know that I know? Or should I hand them back to her openly, so she can’t repeat the hurtful prank again?

Bothered

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DEAR BOTHERED: This sounds like it was a mean, passive-aggressive prank. You should not respond passively to it by slipping these cards into a junk drawer and hoping the prankster gets some sort of message.

You should return these to her and say, simply and honestly, “These were all worthless. I cannot imagine why you did that. Are you OK? What in God’s name were you thinking?”

You could (also) return these cut in half, to prevent this person from making a similar “mistake” with these cards in the future.

DEAR AMY: I’m not sure why “Prefer to Pee in Private” is so upset by her colleagues’ behavior in the restroom. Why does she care if they chat on the phone while “doing their business”? If they are not embarrassed by flushing sounds in the background, then mind your own business. We have to stop telling people what to do when it does not directly affect our lives.

Leave it Alone

DEAR LEAVE IT: People think this infringes on their own privacy, and I agree.