Dear Annie: I am in a quandary about a situation. I am a widow. Sometime after my late husband passed away, an old friend and I renewed our friendship. At first, things were very pleasant, and I enjoyed his company. This gentleman was divorced. I believe that his former wife had an affair. I don't think he ever worked through the feelings of rejection he must have felt. He has a great deal of suppressed anger, and at times he seems to have a dual personality. I realized the friendship was not a healthy one, and we no longer see each other. I have not seen him in years.
I guess it's important to him to keep in touch by phone, and he'll call from time to time to check on me. If I'm not available to answer the phone, he'll leave a curt remark in my voicemail.
He called this week as I was packing up some boxes for Goodwill, and I could not answer the phone in time. He left a sarcastic voice message. He called four times back to back. I did not return the calls.
I don't enjoy talking to him. It's usually a rather one-sided conversation, with him talking about things of no consequence. He doesn't have a good outlook on life. I recently found out he is an alcoholic, and he lies and exaggerates things. His calls upset me.
I don't want to change my landline number or my cellphone number. Should I continue letting his calls go to voicemail? I wish him well, but it really would be best for us not to have a telephone friendship. — Feeling Guilty
Dear Feeling Guilty: That man's disease is the one leaving you curt messages, and you're wise for not returning the calls. Continue letting his calls go to voicemail, and don't bother listening to the messages. You might also want to call your phone provider to see about blocking his number, if you'd rather not let his vitriol take up space on your voicemail. I really hope he seeks help with his alcoholism, but he has to come to that point on his own. You have nothing for which to feel guilty.
Dear Annie: I read the letter today from "Beat Him to the Punch Too Soon," the lady who told her amazing boyfriend she was falling in love with him. I did the same thing when I was dating my husband, "Tom." I wish I could tell her to relax and let things develop organically. I think we can all be guilty of letting our feelings get ahead of the natural process of falling in love. When I was a teenager, my mom always said I was just in love with love; there was a different guy to pine over routinely.
After getting over the embarrassment and the anxiety of telling Tom my feelings, I let it go and embraced the process of dating and just enjoyed getting to know him better and spending time with him. I am so thankful I did. He told me he loved me seven months later. Things moved quickly after that, and we married that same year. The experiences we had while dating are some of the best memories I have. They built a wonderful foundation for what has so far been a fabulous marriage. It's a second marriage for both of us, and I'm eternally grateful that I learned to be patient. — Second Time's a Charm
Dear Second Time's a Charm: I'm printing your letter as reassurance for "Beat Him to the Punch Too Soon" and anyone else who might be fretting over having said those three little words a little too early. It's not a relationship breaker.
Congrats and best wishes to you and your husband.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]