DEAR ABBY: I'm 36, doing very well in business, single and deeply in love with a 58-year-old woman. She has been a neighbor since I was in grade school. She's petite, pretty, intelligent, cheerful and looks my age.

My parents moved to Florida when I turned 27, and I bought their home just so I could be near her. On my 33rd birthday, I begged her to cook for me. We had dinner and too much wine and ended up in bed. We don't live together, and she often tells me to find a younger woman. I have tried to gift her a car, jewelry, etc., but she has refused them all.

Our families are against this. I'm going crazy trying to convince her I love her. When I told her I've loved her since middle school, she laughed. My parents say I am insane, though they love her dearly. Am I? Help, please. -- IN LOVE IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR IN LOVE: Insane? No. When people are in love, they sometimes think emotionally rather than rationally. The 22-year difference in your ages may be why your parents are calling you insane.

Rather than try to "buy" your neighbor's love with gifts, try to get her to tell you how she does feel about you and about what happened the night she cooked you dinner. If it was only because she had too much to drink, she may be embarrassed that things went as far as they did. If it was because the attraction is mutual, you should explain to her that while it may be unusual, these kinds of relationships can be successful if both parties are mature. Example: The president of France, Emmanuel Macron, and his first lady.


DEAR ABBY: I'm a full-time pet and livestock sitter. I work seven days a week, including holidays, sometimes for weeks at a time, in clients' homes caring for their animals. I have 40 years of care experience, and I'm recommended by every veterinarian in the area. I have worked very hard to build my reputation, and I charge reasonable prices.

On occasion, a client wants a "deal" and tries to bargain down my already reasonable fee. It is nearly always attorneys (who also look for a reason to be disappointed after the fact, but fail) or extremely wealthy people. I try hard not to show how insulting their request is, especially when someone's front gate costs more than my annual income. Sometimes I'll bend, but then I kick myself for doing it. (I am working hard to quit doing that.)

Why should it cost me money to care for someone else's animals and home? I need a polite, respectful and definite comeback to decline making deals. -- PET SITTER IN THE SOUTH

DEAR PET SITTER: Try this: "I'm the best. My prices are firm. If you're looking for a bargain, hire someone else. Plenty of people will accept what you're offering. But remember, you get what you pay for."

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DEAR ABBY: In the midst of planning my wedding, I got pregnant. My family wants to plan for a combination bridal/baby shower, but my mother thinks I should only have a baby shower because I will receive gifts at my wedding. What is your take on this? -- UNSURE IN TEXAS

DEAR UNSURE: I agree with your mother for the reason she gave you. You will need baby things in the near future. Your wedding will effectively be your wedding shower.

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