Dear Amy: My long-time male friend and I have been together for over 15 years.
He lives just a few miles away.
We talked about marriage for a while, but that impulse waned as time went by.
I think we both believe that we have a good relationship and that marrying or living together might change that.
He is a great, easy-going man who I do love dearly, and I know he loves me, too.
Here is the caveat: We both have grandkids from our previous marriages.
I feel as most grandmothers do that my grandkids are the loves of my life.
He feels the same about his grandchildren.
When it comes to sitting with the little ones, however, he is over the top.
He babysits several days during the week, as well as staying overnight when his kids take a trip.
As time goes by, I find myself alone more and more.
We used to do things together during the day (take drives, visit museums, bike, golf, etc.), but now days like that are few and far between.
I never say anything because I understand his feelings for his grandchildren, and I don’t want to start any fights or create ill feelings.
Lately, I’ve started noticing other men — I think more out of the need for companionship than anything else.
And yes I have dated a few other men and have been intimate with two men.
I do feel some guilt, but not enough to cease looking.
What can I do?
— Lonely in the Sunshine State
Dear Lonely: Your friend has taken on a new family. His interests have shifted. Because his new interest involves actual physical caretaking for the little loves in his life, you can either join him in this pursuit or find a new golfing partner.
Some grandparents completely suppress their other identities in favor of their role as a grandparent, and while this can be great for the grandkids and their folks — this new avocation will swamp other relationships.
He is making choices that serve his interests and passions, and you have the right to do the same.
You are already engaging in pursuing other companion-relationships, and the way not to feel guilty about this is to tell this man the truth.
Dear Amy: I am a grown woman, in my 60’s, very happily married.
I have been infertile my entire life (that in itself is a long story) due to medical complications early in life and I have never handled the situation of my infertility well at all.
My husband has a grown son from his first marriage.
I recently struck up a friendship with a lovely younger woman. We have many things in common, despite the difference in age.
She is married and has a young child.
She has always said she only wanted one child, but recently has started talking about having a second.
If she does, I will be unable to be happy for her because I have never been capable of being genuinely happy for any expectant mother (because it never happened for me).
Please don’t recommend counseling. I have tried it in the past and it does not help.
I want to be happy for her, but I can’t, and this is breaking my heart.
— Can’t Get Past the Hurt
Dear Can’t Get Past: I wonder if a counselor has ever told you that it is not necessary for you to be happy (genuinely or otherwise) for a pregnant woman.
All you need to do is to accept it as a fact of this woman’s life, along with accepting the feelings this brings up in you.
One way to cope with challenging emotions is to recognize them when they arise, to accept the reasons behind them, and to allow yourself to feel them, understanding that they will subside.
It would help if you explained your history to your friend. You can tell her that pregnancy brings up complicated emotions for you.
If you find you are ruminating excessively (It sounds as if you are), then talking it through with a counselor really would be in order, even if you believe it hasn’t helped in the past.
Dear Amy: “Angry Mom” was a little too upset that her teenage son was “excluded” from a trip some of his friends took.
You should have advised her to tell him what an entitled little brat he is.
You were far too kind.
Dear Upset: Helping teens to process their feelings — without denigrating them — is a way to encourage resiliency.
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