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LifestyleColumnistsAsk Amy

Hobby no longer holding friendship together

DEAR AMY: I wonder if I'm a bad person, or if a certain friendship has run its course. I have a friend I meet for dinner once a week after a meeting I attend. He moved to this rural area after a work accident, and I'm one of his few friends here. We share an interest, but for me it's a hobby -- for him it's a passion. Our dinner conversations revolve around this hobby, and I'm getting bored. I feel there's nothing else to talk about. If things get personal, I fear I'm being untrue to my husband, so I'm careful not to go "there." I've read about emotional affairs in your column, and this certainly isn't one of them. If anything, I keep such a strict leash on our friendship that it isn't growing. I feel like a bad person that I don't want to keep having dinner with this guy, who is obviously lonely. What's your advice for either growing this friendship or pruning it?

-- Bad Person?

DEAR BP?: You may have misunderstood the whole dynamic behind emotional affairs. "Getting personal" in that context is a matter of sharing intimacies that would normally be reserved for a spouse. So no, you should not complain about your marriage or confide in this friend about your husband, but this leaves a great deal of territory for the growth of a friendship. You can talk about current events, issues in your town, taxes, books, movies, etc.

If you genuinely like this person and want to be helpful to him, the most obvious answer is to fold your husband into this friendship. Can your husband join you for one of these dinners? It would also be nice (and neighborly) if you invited your hobby-friend to join you and your husband in a group activity where he could meet some new people.

If you don't want to continue to get together with him, you should tell him it's become too much of a time commitment for you. If he pushes, be firm but friendly and urge him to try to make new connections.

DEAR AMY: I was intrigued by the letter from "Conflicted Bride," who felt family pressure to have a larger wedding. My husband and I had a small ceremony in our minister's study, followed by brunch. We wanted to have a nice honeymoon without any money worries. We had a bang-up honeymoon, which was absolutely perfect. Fast forward 30 years: We're still married, no debt, four kids through college without debt (and two have doctorates!) and a nice retirement. Do I miss a big wedding? No. I wanted a happy marriage, which is what we have.

-- S. Stout

DEAR S: My hero!

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