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by Abigail Van Buren

Questions of Concern Sound Like Prying to Widowed Man

DEAR ABBY: "Russ," my partner of 33 years, passed away nine months ago. Needless to say, it has been a tough time for me. I had a close relationship with his sister, who lives down the street. She and her husband were very supportive after Russ' death.

Russ' sister knows me only within the context of being her brother's husband. Now that he's gone, and I'm back to being a single gay man, how do I set boundaries without offending her? She's always asking where I'm going, what I'm doing, what I have been doing and who I'm going with. It's making me very uncomfortable because I don't think it's any of her business.

I refrain from discussing my private life with her, but she doesn't seem to be getting the message. I don't want to offend her since she's been so good to me, but at the same time, I need my privacy. -- SINGLE AGAIN

DEAR SINGLE: Could you be feeling guilty for deciding to start a new phase in your life? (You shouldn't, because it's normal and natural.) Russ' sister isn't some stranger who is trying to pry. She probably regards you as her surrogate brother. These are questions she would ask Russ if he had lived and you had passed away.

Please try to be less sensitive when she shows an interest. However, if that's not possible, you will have to level with her about how her questions make you feel.

Read more in: Death | Family & Parenting