Dear Annie: I am a single mother in my mid-30s and recently graduated from college. Because of the current job market, I am having difficulty finding a permanent full-time position in my field. I will most likely need to relocate to another state.
The problem is my great aunt. She is a nosy gossip and occasionally puts me on the spot, asking me all kinds of questions. I am not, nor have I ever been, close to this woman. I usually see her only in church, so this is where these grillings take place. I find it highly inappropriate, but she backs me into a corner, and I end up answering her. She had the nerve to ask whether I will be “allowed” to move to another state. When I asked her what she meant, she alluded to the fact that my ex-husband may not want me to take my son elsewhere.
Annie, this woman knows perfectly well that my ex wants nothing to do with our son, and it is extremely hurtful when people bring up the subject. This man has chosen to remove himself from our son’s life for the past two years. Why would she insinuate that he’d block me from moving?
I do not care to air my personal business to my drama queen of an aunt so she can have fodder for her gossipy life. But she is also family, and I do not want to cause controversy by telling her to mind her own business. How can I get her to stop her inquisitions in a tactful way? — Niece in the Hot Seat
Dear Niece: There are ways to avoid answering nunofyerbizness-type questions by obfuscation and changing the subject while remaining sweet and pleasant. But it sounds like you need to practise in front of a mirror because you get too flustered when cornered. Smile and say sweetly, “Why, Aunt Bee, when I have news to share, I’ll be delighted to tell you. Where did you get that lovely dress? You look 10 years younger.” Then give her a big kiss on the cheek and walk away before she recovers. Repeat as needed.
Dear Annie: I have a scholarship that makes my private college experience cost nearly the same as my sister’s public education. Recently, my father told me that I’m on my own in terms of paying for grad school, should I decide to go.
This surprised me because he and my mother are currently paying for my sister to receive her master’s degree. Even though I could handle taking out loans, I’m a little hurt that they’d pay for my sister’s entire education and not mine.
How should I deal with this? — Feeling Unloved in Kansas
Dear Kansas: It’s possible that your parents’ financial situation has changed recently, and although they feel obligated to continue with your sister’s tuition, they cannot afford to take on any more expenses. The only way to find out why they appear to show favouritism is to ask them. But frankly, neither you nor your sister should depend on your parents to cover the cost of post-graduate degrees. Please look into scholarships, grants and other financial aid.
Dear Annie: “Faithful and Upset” was besieged by a girlfriend who objected to his online friendships with women. While you agreed that she is insecure, you also suggested that he examine his friendships and ask himself whether she has a point.
As a 64-year-old straight male in a monogamous relationship, my friendships are almost entirely with women and gay men. Why? I don’t relate well to guys who want to talk sports, cars and how to barbecue. Women are much more interesting, with two of these relationships lasting decades. Fortunately, my fiancee has no issue with my friendships, which is one of the reasons I love her.
In my view, “Faithful” is liberated from society’s illogical, constraining norms. — Santa Cruz
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.