Dear Annie: I’m a 25-year-old single woman whose best friend for the past 10 years has been a guy. “Tony” and I have a lot in common and enjoy hanging out and playing video games together. (I am a bit of a tomboy.) Whenever Tony gets a girlfriend, he always asks me what I think of her, and I do the same with my boyfriends. We have a brother-sister relationship. Our friendship has never been an issue when we are dating other people, which is great.
Here’s the problem: It seems everyone else can’t accept that Tony and I are just friends. My co-workers, our mutual friends and even some members of our families keep trying to play matchmaker with us. Tony and I have talked about it and gave it a shot a few years ago, and we both came to the conclusion that we’re better off staying friends. We can’t imagine being intimate with each other, and he even told me that kissing me was like kissing his sister. A relationship beyond friendship just isn’t going to happen, and we don’t see the point in forcing one.
We’re both frustrated with everyone pushing us together. At first we shrugged it off, but it’s reached the point where I can’t show interest in other men without being criticized. The same goes for Tony. In an effort not to give people the wrong idea, we make sure that when we go out to have fun, it’s with a group of other people, but it seems a lot of folks can’t accept the idea of a man and woman being friends. How do we get through to them? — Frustrated in Carolina
Dear Frustrated: As long as neither you nor Tony is harboring thoughts of a more intimate relationship, ignore the well-meaning busybodies. They will give up only when one of you is “best man” at the other’s wedding.
Dear Annie: I am a 15-year-old sophomore in high school. I don’t keep secrets from my parents except for one thing. I am bisexual and they don’t know.
I want to tell them, but I’m afraid they will be ashamed of it and of me. I know they will still love me, no matter what, but will they be able to accept me? I am totally confused. Please help. — Mixed-Up Child
Dear Mixed-Up: Your parents might not respond with enthusiasm, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be accepting. They may be surprised by your announcement, however, so give them time to work through their feelings. Please contact PFLAG (pflag.org), 1726 M Street, NW, Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20036 for information and suggestions on how to talk to your parents about this. Good luck.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “No Way, Buddy,” who complained that she just wanted to be friends, but her latest male companion wants more. A key phrase is that he’s “generous.” Does she think he’s buying her dinner because he thinks she’s hungry? If she really wants friendship without obligation, she shouldn’t be accepting generosity that creates obligation — they should split all expenses.
Many women seem to think it’s perfectly OK for men to pay for everything, and that they have no responsibility to reciprocate. I’m not saying accepting a rare dinner from a man should force a woman into bed, but there is no free lunch in life. If she continues to look for “generous” men, she will undoubtedly continue to find herself in the same situation.
I am a 50-year-old man and have many true “friendship-only” relationships with women. I enjoy them, and neither of us feels taken advantage of. If “No Way” is seeking that freedom, she needs to belly up and pay her own way. — Friends Go Dutch
Dear Friends: It’s true that a woman should not expect her male friends to pay the bills, not only because it is unfair, but because some men interpret that to mean they are entitled to a sexual reward. If “No Way” isn’t already splitting the costs of her entertainment, we hope she will do so immediately.
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. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger on 12.05.07