Friend­ships only, please

Los Angeles Times - - COMICS - Send ques­tions to askamy@ tri­bune.com or to Ask Amy, Chicago Tri­bune, TT500, 435 N. Michi­gan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

Dear Amy: I am a se­nior cit­i­zen with a dat­ing prob­lem.

My wife passed away two years ago. I did not date for the first year, but since then I have met and gone out with sev­eral women. Th­ese women are my age, of course.

My prob­lem is that although I sim­ply want to go out and so­cial­ize, ev­ery woman I meet seems to want a per­ma­nent or se­ri­ous re­la­tion­ship. I am def­i­nitely not ready for this. The prob­lem gets worse when I go out sev­eral times with the same woman. She then be­comes posses­sive and wants to be ex­clu­sive — and that’s the end of the friend­ship.

I want to meet lady friends and keep them as friends with­out get­ting se­ri­ous; how­ever, this dy­namic ap­pears to make that im­pos­si­ble. What is the so­lu­tion?

A Con­fused Se­nior

Dear Con­fused: Your prob­lem is a familiar one to ca­sual daters, no mat­ter what gen­der or age. You don’t say how you are meet­ing th­ese women-friends, but if you are meet­ing them through an In­ter­net match­ing site, one ob­vi­ous an­swer is to change the venue, try­ing in­stead to meet peo­ple whose re­la­tion­ship goals aren’t quite so ur­gent.

Re­gard­less of how you meet women, your con­tin­ued trans­parency about your mo­tives will be nec­es­sary. For women of a cer­tain age, it’s a num­bers game. Ac­cord­ing to 2010 Cen­sus data, in the 65-74 age group there are 86 men for ev­ery 100 women. The gen­der ra­tio widens as we age.

Stitch.net is an In­ter­net site pro­mot­ing it­self as a fa­cil­i­ta­tor for older peo­ple to get to­gether. Pe­rus­ing the site, I see that op­tions in­clude be­ing matched with some­one for non­ro­man­tic com­pan­ion­ship.

The woman who takes you at your word and who doesn’t act posses­sive is the right match for you.

Dear Amy: My hus­band and I are try­ing to dis­tance our­selves from a cou­ple of for­mer friends. We have other friends who met th­ese peo­ple through us. They like them a lot and tell us they are invit­ing them to their home dur­ing a time when we will also be there. This makes us very un­com­fort­able and re­sent­ful.

Th­ese cur­rent friends don’t know that we’re dis­tanc­ing our­selves.

You al­ways know what to say in sticky sit­u­a­tions. When our friends tell us they’re invit­ing ex-friends, what can we say?

So­cial Dilemma

Dear So­cial: Your friends may be try­ing to po­litely cre­ate a fun group and don’t re­al­ize they are as­sem­bling the cast of “I Know What You Did Last Sum­mer.”

If you decline an in­vi­ta­tion, do not blame the pres­ence of the other cou­ple — this puts the hosts in a ter­ri­ble spot. If your friends men­tion the ex-friends in a non­in­vi­ta­tion con­text, be hon­est and say, “There is some ten­sion be­tween us right now. We’re in a rough patch.” Don’t pro­vide de­tails.

We of­ten tend to put our own com­fort ahead of the in­ter­ests of the group. But some­times the an­swer is to be­have po­litely — to ev­ery­one — so that no one would guess there was a prob­lem. If you are able to do this, you will feel good about your­self, you will be mod­el­ing good be­hav­ior for your for­mer friends, and — who knows? — it might lead to a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

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