DEAR AMY: I'm in my mid-20s. I recently moved 1,000 miles away from home to Colorado for a job. Despite knowing no one here and going through a break up shortly before the move, I don't really feel lonely. Even during the pandemic, I have stayed fairly active. My co-worker, "Kendall" started her job around the same time I did and immediately latched on to me. It's nice to spend time with her, but I still very much like my alone time. She invites me to hang out several times a week. I usually accept once a week out of pity, and also because we are among the few females in a male-dominated workforce. I hate hiking and doing outdoorsy things with her because she brings her ill-behaved dog. She's a high-energy dog, and Kendall is not an experienced owner. I know from experience that this dog needs firm and friendly training. I've hiked with Kendall and her dog several times and it's a circus every time. Honestly, I'm surprised one of them hasn't gotten hurt. I'm trying to plan day trips to nearby national parks. I don't want to invite her, but if she finds out I went alone she will literally whine to me at work. Bottom line, how do I nicely tell Kendall to discipline her dog (or leave her at home)? How do I say that sometimes I want to do things by myself?
I Like Being Alone
DEAR ALONE: It is possible to maintain a nice working relationship with a fellow female employee without going on pity dates. And yes, people and dogs are different, but both respond to "firm and friendly" training.
There are two impediments to you enjoying Kendall's company: Kendall's dog, and the fact that you often just want to do things by yourself.
Talk to her! Say, "I enjoy hanging out with you but honestly, I also need more time to myself. I appreciate you asking, but I hope you won't take it personally when I don't accept an invitation."
"The second thing is different: I don't want to go hiking with your dog anymore. She's a great dog, but I think she needs some professional training. I really believe it is unsafe to hike with her, so I'm not going to do it."
DEAR AMY: My husband and I have been married for over 20 years. Recently we were watching TV, and the husband in the TV show was asked what kind of wife he had. His reply was: "A very, very lucky one." I asked my husband what kind of wife HE had. He replied, "Human." What kind of reply was that? Couldn't he have replied "lucky," or some other compliment? Is my marriage in trouble? Or over? I was beyond hurt.
DEAR DEVASTATED: Your husband's comment was failed and thoughtless, but unless there are other things going on, being devastated by it seems out of proportion.
Let's recap: The line, "What kind of wife do you have? A lucky one" is one of those unfunny passively insulting comments that pop up in bad sitcoms. You seem to interpret this as high praise, but I'd emphasize that the "lucky wife" is actually a reference to how awesome the husband is.
You made a "bid" to your husband. I assume that you wanted him to look you in the eyes and say, "I'M the lucky one," or extend a proportional and loving bid to you.
He didn't do that. He messed up. He didn't read the room.
Maybe he misses all the bids. But the way to respond is to talk about it. If you often feel overall devalued by large or small things he does (or doesn't do), you two should make a good-faith effort to reset your relationship.
Twenty years is a long time. Your question is proof of how many opportunities we all have to respond with kindness, good humor, and love. It is actually so easy to make another person feel good. I hope you will point this out to your husband.
DEAR AMY: You helped to spread misinformation in your reply to "What Pandemic?!" who was worried about attending a class reunion. You said that the virus was not spread using shared utensils, and that is not true!
DEAR UPSET: Although I noted that the virus does not seem to easily spread through touching objects, according to the CDC, people should limit their contact with commonly touched items, including utensils. That is the advice to follow.