DEAR ABBY: I'm a 28-year-old woman with a fantastic job, a wonderful boyfriend and many friends whom I love dearly. I'm the only one without a child.
Maybe I don't understand because I'm not a parent myself, but all my friends can talk about is children. Whereas before, we were interested in each other's lives, I feel like my concerns and accomplishments are being brushed off. An example: I was excited to meet up with a pal to talk about my promotion, but the hour-long dinner was spent mostly teaching her child how to walk between the tables of the restaurant.
I enjoy hearing about my friends and their families, but I feel they are no longer interested in me. Am I expecting too much because we're at different points in our lives, or am I a bad friend? I'm growing resentful, and I don't like it. Any words of wisdom? -- STILL RELEVANT IN MASSACHUSETTS
DEAR STILL RELEVANT: You and your friends are at different stages of life. When you were in your teens, you and your friends would talk about dating. Then, as you grew older, the conversations revolved around college, jobs and marriage. As people experience the later stages of life, they talk about other things that are going on in their lives -- children, grandkids, aging parents and, finally, their own health concerns.
You'll maintain and enjoy these friendships longer if you understand that. In the meantime, try to set some "adult time only" with your friends.
DEAR ABBY: I have been divorced for 14 years and have dated some, but not a lot. I recently signed up for an online dating service, and here is my dilemma: I have a felony conviction from 25-plus years ago. It did not involve violence, drugs, sex, stealing, etc. It was for a white-collar crime. I received four years of probation, which I served without a hitch.
My question is not if I should tell someone about my conviction, but when. If I say anything at our first meeting, I'm pretty sure it will also be the last meeting. At the same time, I don't want it to appear that I was hiding it from them.
I might add, this is the only time I have ever been in trouble with the law. I'd appreciate your advice on how to deal with this. -- ONLINE DATING IN TEXAS
DEAR DATING: The time to tell someone about your conviction is when the relationship stops being casual. At that point, you should disclose that there is a chapter from your past that you think the person should know about -- and it's one that will never be repeated.
DEAR ABBY: After 25 years, I have finally admitted to myself that I'm married to a workaholic, alcoholic womanizer. I have devoted my entire adult life, my time, effort and energy to my family. Now I feel used, abused and disrespected. I'm grateful to be a member of Al-Anon. It has helped me to understand that I cannot change anyone but me.
I have raised three great, successful grown kids. I have yet to make a decision for myself. I married for life. Must I continue to suffer in silence? Or do I hope that there is love, kindness and respect out there to be had? -- STALLING IN IOWA
DEAR STALLING: Let me remind you what you've already learned in Al-Anon: You cannot change anyone but yourself. The same is true of your circumstances.
You are entitled to receive the same love and respect that you offer to others. I cannot guarantee that you'll find love. Because your workaholic, alcoholic, womanizing husband hasn't changed in a quarter of a century, it's obvious he has no intention of doing so.
You don't need to find another man in order to be happier than you are now. Being alone could give you peace, contentment and happiness. The question you need to answer honestly for yourself is whether you would be happier without your husband's negative influence in your life.
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