Dear Annie: I have two friends I will call “Tom” and “Jack.”
All three of us have been friends since high school. Tom and Jack were like brothers long before I met them, but even though I was a girl, they accepted me into their family.
After we graduated, we stopped hanging out as much, but have made an effort to get together every now and then over the years.
Tom’s job takes up most of his time. Jack has a wife and son. I also have a son and a wonderful boyfriend.
The problem is Jack’s wife. She hates me, which I’ve never understood since we’ve barely spoken. But Tom says she is jealous because she thinks Jack and I had “a thing” in high school and beyond. This is absurd.
Now I am not so sure about Jack. After a recent exchange of emails, I believe he has feelings for me and Tom confirms it.
Apparently, these feelings are not new. I care about Tom and Jack very much. I love them, but in a platonic way.
I tried to tell Jack that I value our friendship but am already with someone I love and that isn’t going to change.
He doesn’t seem to understand and continues to say things like, “I don’t care what my wife thinks. I am going to be with you no matter what.”
Annie, I don’t know what to do. I don’t want Jack’s wife to hate me, nor do I want the title of “homewrecker.”
But I also don’t want the friendship to end. I know things cannot continue like this. How can I get Jack to understand without losing everything? — Only Sisterly Love Here
Dear Sisterly: Not all friendships can survive when one person has an unrequited crush on the other. Until now, Jack has kept his feelings under wraps, but his current determination to be with you makes the friendship untenable.
Call Jack and tell him you are sorry, but you have no interest in being with him, and suggest he and his wife get counselling. Then back away and do not respond to any additional romantic overtures.
Dear Annie: My fiance and I have a four-year-old daughter. Last week, she asked to visit her grandmother. It was unclear if she meant my mother or my fiance’s, so we asked. I also asked if she meant her “third grandmother,” my stepmother. (She never figured out which one she meant.)
Later, my fiance asked where I came up with the idea that our daughter has three grandmothers. He says since my stepmother is not my real mother, she also is not our daughter’s grandmother and should not be referred to as such.
He wanted to be sure I wouldn’t let our child refer to his stepfather as “grandfather.” They don’t get along.
I was taught that a stepparent is referred to as a grandparent. Who is right? Can my stepsiblings be called “aunt and uncle”? Can their children be “cousins”? — Reader in Pennsylvania
Dear Reader: It is perfectly OK to refer to stepparents as grandparents and other step-relations as aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.
But when someone dislikes a stepparent, it can grate.
Since this bothers your fiance, you might give them specific titles (i.e., “Nonny Grace”) and always refer to them by name instead of relationship.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Trying My Best,” whose boss complained about her “unprofessional hair,” which is growing back after chemo treatments.
I am so disgusted I can hardly speak. How insensitive can a person be?
I wonder how such a callous person was put in charge of employees. She should be tarred and feathered. Then she ought to spend a day in a cancer center. A big bouquet of stinkweeds to her. — Tex
Dear Tex: Hundreds of readers wrote to say this boss could use a refresher course in compassion and decency. Yours was one of the few printable ones.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.