Dear Annie: I've been friends with this girl for several years. She's my (adult) daughter's age. We have never had a disagreement before. Long story short, she said something out of the blue that hurt my feelings. She says she was joking but the fact remains that she hurt me. She won't apologize, and now she's stopped speaking to me. When I run into her, she gives me the silent treatment, which I think is immature. And I think that she was never really my friend if she could do this. We used to, I thought, enjoy each other's company. I even gave her my house key to watch my dog when I'm out of town, and my dog is my everything. I guess she's really changed. What do you think? — Fake Friends
Dear Fake Friends: To say that she's a "fake friend" implies some sort of intentional deceit all along, which doesn't seem to be the case. So I don't think she was a fake friend; I think she was just not a very good one. Don't bend over backward trying to guess her intentions, and don't bog yourself down with carrying a grudge, either. Let her come to you if and when she's ready to make things right. In the meantime, nurture new friendships — and find a new dogsitter.
Dear Annie: I am a 58-year-old gay man. I always wanted a partner. But I have been alone all my life. I do have a daughter and four grandchildren. None of them contact me. I've tried to contact them. I also have five brothers. Again, nobody calls or is good about calling me back.
My mother passed in 2014. She never accepted me because of my sexuality, and her attitude influenced my dad's and brothers' attitudes toward me. I tried over the years to bring them into my life.
I am not nasty or cold or anything like that. I help people when I can. Children and animals are the ones I help the most. Throughout my life, I have adopted 13 animals, from cats and dogs to goats and birds. Over the holidays, I go out and buy presents for the four grandchildren. I donate money to shelters in my state.
I really don't know why I'm writing this to you; I don't expect any answers. I am just very lonely and sad before my birthday. I'd take any advice you have. Thanks for reading this, and God bless you. — Lonely and Sad for My Birthday
Dear Lonely: I am sorry that your family relationships are strained and have been a source of great pain. But that doesn't mean you have to be sad on your birthday. Make it a day for celebrating life and loving yourself. Do something that honors your values, such as taking a trip to an animal sanctuary where you can spend time with rescued animals, hiking in nature, visiting a museum or town you've always wanted to see, or doing anything else that restores some serenity to your soul.
Do not hang your hopes on family members' calling. Let it be a pleasant surprise if they do. It sounds as though they have their own limitations that might render them incapable of offering you the love and support that a family should. Know that that is no reflection you or what you deserve. Find meaningful and supportive relationships elsewhere. Check out Meetup.com, which connects people locally around shared interests. Consider taking lessons in a sport or hobby that you've been curious about. Don't sit and wallow on your birthday or any other day. Treat each day like the present it is. Happy birthday.
"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]