DEAR AMY: I am a senior citizen with a dating problem. My wife passed away two years ago. I did not date for the first year but since then I have met and gone out with several women. These women are my age, of course. My problem is that although I simply want to go out and socialize, every woman I meet seems to want a permanent and/or serious relationship. I am definitely not ready for this. The problem gets worse when I go out several times with the same woman. She then becomes possessive and wants to be exclusive -- and that's the end of the friendship. I want to meet lady friends and keep them as friends without getting serious; however, this dynamic appears to make that impossible. What is the solution?
A Confused Senior
DEAR CONFUSED: Your problem is a familiar one to casual daters, no matter what gender or age. You don't say how you are meeting these women-friends, but if you are meeting them through an Internet matching site, one obvious answer is to change the venue, trying instead to meet people whose relationship goals aren't quite so urgent.
Regardless of how you meet women, your continued transparency about your motives will be necessary. For women of a certain age, it's a numbers game. According to 2010 Census data, in the 65-74 age group there are 86 men for every 100 women. The gender ratio widens as we age.
Stitch.net is an Internet site promoting itself as a facilitator for older people to get together. Perusing the site, I see that options include being matched with someone for nonromantic companionship.
The woman who takes you at your word and who doesn't act possessive is the right match for you.
DEAR AMY: My husband and I are trying to distance ourselves from a couple of former friends. We have other friends who met these people through us. They like them a lot and tell us they are inviting them to their home during a time when we will also be there. This makes us very uncomfortable and resentful. These current friends don't know that we're distancing ourselves. You always know what to say in sticky situations. When our friends tell us they're inviting ex-friends, what can we say?
DEAR SOCIAL: Your friends may be trying to politely create a fun group and don't realize they are assembling the cast of "I Know What You Did Last Summer." If you decline an invitation, do not blame the presence of the other couple -- this puts the hosts in a terrible spot. If your friends mention the ex-friends in a noninvitation context, be honest and say, "There is some tension between us right now. We're in a rough patch." Don't provide details.
We live in an age where we tend to put our own comfort ahead of the interests of the group. But sometimes the answer is to behave with such consistent politeness -- to everyone -- that no one would guess there was a problem. If you are able to do this, you will feel good about yourself, you will be modeling good behavior for your former friends, and -- who knows -- it might lead to a reconciliation.
DEAR AMY: You had a compassionate answer to "Upset," who was hurt when a nonrelative announced a family member's death on social media. There's another reason besides etiquette and kindness that those other than next-of-kin should NOT be making such postings: They could get it wrong. Last year when my cousin and her husband visited our family, she spent her first 45 minutes at our home making calls to her siblings and children because of such an error. An acquaintance had just posted on Facebook that her eldest sister had died. Apparently someone with the same first name had passed away, and the Facebook "friend" had posted the death of the wrong person. My cousin's first call was to her own sister to warn her that the report of her death had been greatly exaggerated -- and widely disseminated.
DEAR HORRIFIED: Yikes.