DEAR ABBY: I'm a 51-year-old gay male. I have a sweet, dear friend I'll call "Samantha" who is slightly older. The problem is, she wants more than friendship. She insists on spending time with me and calls me daily. She hugs me repeatedly when she goes to leave, and kisses my neck or cheek -- whichever she can get to.
Samantha has touched me in a way that makes me uncomfortable. She places herself so her body touches my hand or arm. When she does, I quickly remove it. She says I remind her of her brother, but I'm not feeling a sibling relationship here. She invites herself over and gets mad if I tell her I have other plans.
I don't think I should have to discuss my orientation with anyone -- including her. It is my personal business. I have never done anything to make Samantha think I have an interest in her. I have spoken to her and made it clear that I'm not interested in a relationship with her. I have told her not to stop by without calling first. If she calls and I don't answer, she still shows up at my door saying she called. What can I do? -- END OF MY ROPE IN VIRGINIA
DEAR END OF YOUR ROPE: You have two choices. Because she is a "dear friend," the first would be to make an exception in Samantha's case and level with her about the fact that you're homosexual and have no interest in a close relationship with any female because you relate better to men. During this truth session you should also say that her demonstrations of affection and apparent need for emotional and physical closeness make you uncomfortable. (It's surprising she hasn't picked up on it by now because of your body language.)
The alternative is to end this friendship without giving her an explanation. Either way, expect Samantha to be hurt and disappointed, but if you explain that being gay is simply part of who you are and has no bearing on her, she may be less so.
DEAR ABBY: The year I graduated from high school I witnessed a horrific car accident that claimed the lives of five of my classmates. Since then, I have been involved in two accidents (I was in the passenger seat both times) and a number of close calls. This has caused me to develop extreme anxiety about driving -- both as the driver and as a passenger.
I work 50 miles from where I live. Every day is stressful because of the drive. Moving is not an option. Is there anything I can do to help my anxiety? -- TOO MANY CLOSE CALLS
DEAR TOO MANY: Treatment for your problem is available. Consult your physician and ask for a referral to a psychologist who specializes in patients who suffer from phobias.
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