DEAR AMY: I have been with my boyfriend for almost five years. Lately he seems to want to meet up or hang out with more girls than usual. He has always had friends throughout our relationship that have been girls, some he had previously even had sex with -- but obviously they displayed nothing more than just a friendship and acted as if it never happened. I was comfortable and OK with these friendships. But isn't meeting new girls kind of like finding a new date? Or does he just want friends outside the relationship? I don't feel the need to meet other people. I'm comfortable focusing on our relationship. Is this a sign he is bored?
DEAR WONDERING: It might be significant that your boyfriend wants to form new friendships with new women, but it also seems significant that you don't want to meet new people. Are you saying that you don't want to form new friendships, because your relationship with your boyfriend fulfills all of your relationship needs? If so, then you might be unwittingly encouraging your guy to seek out new friendships as he compensates for how static your personal life has become.
You sound like a very open and accepting person. You don't seem like someone prone to jealousy. Is your boyfriend trying to encourage a possessive reaction from you? Stable couples don't always act like a monolith, but in a stable and loving relationship, each partner is very intentional about not causing jealousy or distress to their partner.
Most importantly, you should be asking your boyfriend about his feelings and his reaction to your long-term relationship. If his female friendships make you feel jealous, anxious or worried that you or your relationship are boring -- then you should be honest about it.
DEAR AMY: I have been in treatment with radiation and chemotherapy for eight months for a brain tumor and I look like it, too. I am tired and bald but still try to stick to an exercise schedule and do my own grocery shopping. When I am out and about and I have been greeted a number of times by strangers with "How are you?" I find it hard to respond like I used to. A couple of times I have tried an honest answer and told the greeter the truth, that I feel pretty awful and, of course, nobody really listens to what I am saying. I would like to suggest a greeting like "Hey There" be used for cancer patients. I know I would really appreciate that and I suspect some of my fellow cancer patients would too.
DEAR CANCER PATIENT: If strangers are greeting you with the phrase "How are you?" when you are very obviously unwell, this could very well be their way of offering you an acknowledgment, without asking for -- or deserving -- specific health-related answers from you. You might answer by saying, "I'm hanging in, thank you." At the end of the day, you really can't control how strangers greet you. Nor can most people accurately identify a cancer patient on sight. I think the fact that strangers are greeting you at all is a sign that you are inspiring friendliness and generosity from other people. That is a good thing -- and you deserve credit, as well as a firm "thumbs up" from me.
DEAR AMY: "Respectfully Disrespected" is a 19-year-old transgender female whose parents "won't let me get my gender legally changed." At her age, she is not a minor and doesn't need parental permission to have her name changed, etc. Also, her parents may want to check out PFLAG to help them through this transition.
DEAR RESPECTFUL: Thank you. I took the letter writer's comment that her parents "wouldn't let her" change her gender as a sign that these parents were emotionally, rather than legally, controlling her.
As I said in my answer, she does not need anyone's permission to live her life authentically.
Many people wrote in offering support to this young person going through this life-changing transition. PFLAG.org offers informative and supportive suggestions for family members facing this issue.