DEAR AMY: My heart is broken and hurts so bad; I think I'm about to lose it. My best friend of 50 years just told me that there is no reason to try to exchange Christmas gifts this year, because I am so paranoid about COVID and we wouldn't be seeing each other because of it. She refuses to wear a mask around me and says I "look ridiculous" wearing one around her. EVERYONE locally that we are close to, all people in their 70s and 80s (some with comorbidity issues), are doing exactly what they want. They regularly see outside family members, neighbors, friends, workers they've hired, etc. without the benefit of masks. They have been doing this for months, and all are fine. They seem to think that if you know a person, then masks/social distancing is not necessary, and so far, in all the many cases, this has proven true. After all these months of the pandemic, everyone is fine. Am I indeed being "paranoid" to avoid people not living in my household, social distancing, always wearing a mask? Maybe I should just start wearing a mask only when among strangers? I am starting to become very resentful.
DEAR RESENTFUL: You and your cohort could be in for a very long winter. I am genuinely sorry that your friends either don't understand or don't care about how this virus is spread. Given the number of tragic stories of friends and family members spreading the virus to one another, their logic — that one needs only to be careful among strangers — is backward. The virus is carried in and then spread among close groups.
For a famous example, how did President Trump become infected and land in the hospital? (Not from a stranger, but from a person in his inner circle.)
According to the CDC, in up to 40% of cases, people who have COVID are asymptomatic, may not be aware that they have the virus, and may never develop symptoms, themselves but could potentially infect others.
In my view, it is one thing to disregard risks when it comes to your own health and safety, but to deride and criticize you for taking the pandemic seriously is not what loving friends do. I can imagine how hurt you feel. By following medical advice now, you are betting on having a future with your friends. I hope they are there to join you, and that your friendship somehow survives this disrespect.
DEAR AMY: I've been married for almost 40 years, pretty much happily. My husband and I still enjoy an active sex life. We are comfortable empty-nesters with good lives. So why do I crush on guys at the gym? I've had crushes on two different men I see regularly while working out. My current crush is not a youngster — he is definitely older than my kids (30+) — but I'm so attracted to him. Honestly, it makes my day when I see him there. We've never spoken, but we recognize each other. Seeing him there is exciting. I know this is silly, but I look forward to going to the gym just in case he's there. I want to do more than just look, but I know that nothing would ever happen between us. Help!
DEAR PERPLEXED: Crushing on, or being attracted to, people other than your partner means that you are a human being in the prime of your life — healthy, and presumably feeling good. Your eyes still work, your pheromones are doing their job (his, too!), your workouts are giving you energy, and you are feeling attractive, and attracted.
The clinical term I've assigned to this is: The Ryan Gosling Effect.
The trick here is not to leave this at the gym, but to take all of this energy back home to your partner.
DEAR AMY: You handle lots of questions from people who wonder why they should remember others' special occasions if they don't feel adequately thanked. Recently, a reader questioned continuing to send birthday cards and gifts to others who only honored her birthday with a text. You counseled her to continue sending a warm note and gift. Your advice was spot on! We don't do nice things for people because THEY are nice. We do them because WE are nice.
Alan, in Aurora, Colorado
DEAR ALAN: You framed this giving concept much better than I did, and I owe you a very sincere thank you! (The note's in the mail.)