Dear Annie: My husband and I met while he was going through a challenging divorce and instantly fell in love. Because we have a significant age difference, he wanted to get married and start having kids as soon as possible. His best friend “Robert” made it clear that he did not approve of our relationship or engagement. (Keep in mind, this friend has had wine bottles broken over his head by his cheating wife.)
At our wedding, Robert and his wife chose to not give a gift because of their disapproval. After the wedding, he taunted my husband that he has a card with the gift in it, but my husband and I don’t deserve a wedding gift. Later on, Robert decided, when he sees fit, he will send the wedding gift.
When Robert thought he was striking it rich, he decided to go radio silent for eight months. Now that the guy lost his job, he calls my husband daily, demanding and harassing him to help get him a job.
We are coming on our four-year anniversary — still no gift. Robert’s daughters are graduating from college. My husband wants to send a generous gift, as we would typically do for our friends and family. I said we can send a card congratulating them on their accomplishments. When we receive the wedding gift, we can send our typical graduation gifts. — Disappointed in Robert
Dear Disappointed: Why is your husband wasting his time on such a toxic and immature “friend?” The fact that he attended your wedding and refused to give a gift is enough, but holding the strange gift hostage four years later is completely absurd.
As terribly as Robert has treated you, his daughters have done nothing wrong. If you have a close relationship with them, go ahead and send them a gift as you normally would. If you do not, send a card — or nothing at all.
Dear Annie: I’ve been a widow for almost four years and have been trying to date for about a year and a half. I recently had lunch with a nice man but someone who I would put in the friend zone.
He said his wife had been gone awhile. I found out it had only been about three weeks! I was barely getting dressed three weeks after my husband passed. He said they had a wonderful marriage and she’d want him to move on.
He is now madly in love with me. I’ve tried to explain to him that there are going to be a lot of emotions he’s going to experience and, at this point, he needs to work through all of them before even thinking about having a serious relationship.
I know he is lonely, depressed and hurting, but any interaction between us just seems to make things worse. I know I’m not responsible for another person, but I’m worried about what he might do if I stop talking to him. I have suggested different groups and grief counseling, but he doesn’t hear me. What would be the best way to proceed? — Feeling for the Grieving
Dear Feeling for: This man is in a fragile state because of his wife’s passing, but you are absolutely right. No person can fill the void he’s feeling, and he certainly needs more time to heal and adjust before jumping into another romantic relationship.
Tell him again that you understand his pain and wish to be supportive of him but that your relationship is one of friendship, not romance. You don’t have to cut him off, but use your get-togethers to persuade him to check out grief counseling and support groups. If he refuses and insists that he is in love with you, tell him you will have to end any possible relationship. My guess is that he will take your advice and slow down.