DEAR AMY: I'm having some difficulties with my siblings. Recently I've moved into my own place. I love it. The problem is that because I live alone, my siblings believe that I'm somehow lonely. They keep trying to get me to go on blind dates with people they know, and saying stuff like, "You should meet this guy, he's great." Or, "How can you spend so much time by yourself? When are you going to have kids? You'll make a great mom." I've been turning them down so often that some of them have shifted to, "You should meet this girl I know," which is even more annoying because I'm straight. The thing of it is, my parents got divorced when I was a preteen and ever since then, I took care of other people -- my younger siblings, my older sibling's children, and a parent who was ill. For the first time in my life, the only person I have to take care of is me, and I'm in no rush to change that. Does that seem selfish?
Solitary and Happy Sister
DEAR SISTER: You are not being selfish. You are being yourself. Sometimes, siblings are the last people who can accept the reality of who you are -- because they have a lifetime of history and experiences and expectations with you, and for their own reasons they need you to always conform to their idea of you.
You might benefit from reading the groundbreaking book, "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking," by Susan Cain (2013, Broadway Books). Whether you are an introvert or simply someone who needs an extensive breather, you will gain insight into understanding your own energy and impulses. This should give you the strength to remain lovingly stalwart toward family members who pressure you to be otherwise.
DEAR AMY: I have been married to my husband for 26 years. This year my mother-in-law gave NO gift or card to my daughter for her birthday or to me for mine. My husband's birthday was just two weeks later and he got a visit at work with a card and $50. I'm so hurt that she would snub my daughter and me -- and only acknowledge her son. This has caused major trouble in my marriage because I expect my husband to address it politely and just let her know it's fine if they don't want to do gifts anymore but to do things this way causes hard feelings. I feel like he's chosen to protect her feelings over mine.
Frustrated in New York
DEAR FRUSTRATED: It is not your husband's job to protect your feelings. Your feelings belong to you -- you should be in charge of protecting them, as well as expressing yourself honestly when your feelings are hurt.
Your husband also cannot tell his mother how to be decent, fair and inclusive. After such a long marriage, you should have established enough of a relationship with your mother-in-law to politely express yourself, even if you know in advance that doing so might make things seem awkward or challenging between the two of you.
You should be brave enough to say to her, "Nan, I was so sorry that you didn't recognize my birthday this year. You've been thoughtful in the past, and it hurt my feelings not to hear from you." Is your mother-in-law passively trying to express some dissatisfaction? Does she feel unappreciated or unacknowledged? Do you remember her special days in a thoughtful way? Perhaps this incident -- and the way you react to it -- will encourage change and growth, for both of you.
DEAR AMY: "Wondering's" friends were pressing her and her boyfriend about when they were getting married and she wondered what to say. In that situation I used to say, "If it ain't broke don't fix it." Usually that shut people up. I had a lot of opportunities to practice this because we lived together for around 25 years before marrying; at retirement we had financial reasons to take that step.
Still Ain't Broke
DEAR STILL: Well done. Thank you.