DEAR AMY: I am a 58-year-old woman, divorced with three grown kids. I live on a small farm by myself out in the country. I am independent. I don’t feel the need to go out all the time. I have a male friend who I have known for 40 years. He and I dated when I was 20. We were sexually intimate. He calls me frequently. The problem is I no longer feel ANY sort of physical attraction toward him, but he is still very attracted to me. We have a great time talking at dinner or watching a movie, but then he wants to become physical, and I demur each time. I have even told him I am no longer interested in sex at all, but he just ignores it and says things like, “Once we start, I know you’ll enjoy it.” I have (so far) been able to hold my ground but it is getting harder because of the pressure he exerts to be physical. I truly enjoy his company, so I hate to just start saying no to all his invitations. I don’t want to hurt his feelings either, by saying that I don’t find him physically attractive. I need a good line for next time to let him know I enjoy his friendship but only in a strictly platonic way!
No Sex in the Country
DEAR NO SEX: How’s this: “Dude. Stop. No means no. Do you get that?”
You have already offered all sorts of explanations to guard his ego. You do not owe him any further explanation about anything. If he can’t handle being platonic and strictly nonsexual friends with you, then you shouldn’t spend time with him.
DEAR AMY: I have a friend, “Shelly,” with whom I have had a warm relationship for many years. We met more than two decades ago when we were both engaged to our future-husbands, who were friends. Over the years, we drifted apart, but always reconnected quickly the few times we ran into each other. We both had tragic illnesses in our respective families, so we could relate to each other’s struggles A couple of years ago Shelly’s husband died, leaving her with four school-age children and few financial resources. Because of my own health issues, I have not been in touch (other than through a condolence card) since she was widowed, but I think of her and her children often. This past Christmas, I expressed that sentiment in a card to her and included a $100 gift card to a popular family steakhouse in her area, adding that I hoped that she and her family could use it for a fun dinner outing. My husband, “Brent,” personally handed the card to her after a Christmas party that I was unable to attend. Without opening the card, she said that she was going to call me to catch up on things. That was weeks ago, and I have heard nothing from her. Do you think that my gift offended her? Her silence makes me wonder if I did something wrong.
DEAR WONDERING: The last time I gave someone a gift card contained in another card, I experienced some pretty major anxiety about it, because giving a gift card is like enclosing a $100 bill — you can’t know for sure if it has been received, spent or redeemed, unless the recipient tells you. I’ve received Christmas cards at busy times that I’ve put in my backpack and forgotten to open until Easter.
You should contact her. Cop to your own anxiety. Say, “This is awkward, but Brent assured me that he handed you a card at the Christmas party. I’m a little nervous because I had enclosed a gift card, and I just want to make sure that Brent did get it to you. If so, great. And I’m very eager to catch up. I think about you and the kids so often and regret that I haven’t been in closer touch. That’s on me, and I’d like to remedy that.”
You should not automatically assume that your gift has offended her, but if it has, her response to your contact should clue you in.
DEAR AMY: “Horrified” taught an adult education class. One of the students insulted another. You suggested that the teacher confront the perpetrator privately. Amy, no! The teacher should contact the school’s dean or administration, and turn this over to them.
DEAR TEACHER: I’ve heard from many teachers who suggest a variety of responses, across the board. Mainly, this is a teachable moment, and the teacher should definitely deal with it.