Looking for a way to let unwanted friends down easy

My husband and I moved to Florida 30 years ago and raised our children here. Some friends recently retired and moved to our area. Florida is a large state, and we were surprised that both of these couples (who don’t know each other) chose to purchase homes within a 20-mile radius of us.

Dear Annie: My husband and I moved to Florida 30 years ago and raised our children here. Some friends recently retired and moved to our area. Florida is a large state, and we were surprised that both of these couples (who don’t know each other) chose to purchase homes within a 20-mile radius of us.

My husband and I are being pressured to resume these friendships, but frankly, we are not interested. When these couples email, I keep making excuses, and I don’t answer the phone when they call. It’s been months, and none of them has figured it out. They persist.

One of these women was a childhood friend, but she is boastful and competitive, and her husband is worse. I don’t have it in me to level with them.

How can we stop them from calling without creating hurt feelings? — Lynn in Sunny Florida

Dear Sunny: Has it occurred to you that these couples may have moved to this location because they thought they had at least one friend in the area?

It means they will persist until they develop new friends who occupy their time. If you are likely to run into them at shops and social events, it might be in your best interests to allow a limited friendship so you are on speaking terms.

That means, you answer every fifth call or email and arrange a social engagement every few months. As they become more acclimated to their new digs, you can cut back until you reach the amount of contact you can handle. By then, your absence will be less important to them.

Dear Annie: My boyfriend will be 67 in two weeks, and for the third year in a row, I will probably watch his heart break because his 90-year-old mother will not acknowledge his birthday.

He has done nothing to make her feel this way. She lives in our city, but he has not seen her in more than three years. I am so afraid she will pass on before they reconcile. What would cause a woman to have no feelings for her own son? — Baffled in Indianapolis

Dear Baffled: We don’t know, but if they haven’t seen each other since she was 87, there is a possibility of a decline in her mental faculties. Did she acknowledge his birthday before? Was she OK the last time he saw her? Is there a sibling, relative or friend who could intercede on his behalf? Some children call their parents on their own birthday to thank the parents for giving birth to them. Your boyfriend might try this to see whether it breaks the ice. But if nothing works, do something for his birthday that he enjoys and that will take his mind off of Mom.

Dear Annie: You’ve printed a lot of letters about stores carrying larger sizes. I wear a 3X. I live in a rural area, and there are no plus-size stores. I would love to drop some pounds, but due to health problems, I can’t walk, and my medications tend to make me gain even though I try to eat very little. I’ve tried online shopping, but the sizes are not standard.

I want my local stores to carry my size. I would like to have more than four tops in my weekly rotation and a nightgown that doesn’t make me feel like my grandmother — Trying To Fit

Dear Trying: We cannot force the stores near you to carry your size. Your best bet is to shop online. There are many places that carry your size, and if things don’t fit, you can return them. Some trial and error may be necessary, but eventually, you will find an online shop that suits you.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

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