Dear Amy: I lost my wife to cancer over 10 years ago. I was devastated.
Later that same year, I met the new love of my life, “Laura.”
Two years ago, I moved in with Laura and her adopted daughter “Maura.”
It took Maura a few years to warm up to me even a little bit.
Now that the three of us live together, she is at least tolerant of me, but I am frustrated that she won’t let me be any closer.
Laura and I are semi-retired and Maura is an adult (40’s), and only works when she feels like it, which is fine by me.
We are all self-sufficient.
When the three of us are together, Maura will engage with me, but whenever I am alone in the house with her, she avoids me entirely.
I have gone to great lengths to gain her trust and to let her be her own person, but I am saddened that she only interacts with me as if to please her mother.
Her mother has questioned Maura to see if there is anything she finds upsetting about me, but she won’t answer.
Laura adopted Maura at a very young age and raised her as a single parent.
She didn’t know her birth parents, so Laura is the only parent she has ever known. It’s just so hard for me to understand.
Laura is a wonderful, outgoing, kind and caring person, but Maura can seem so aloof.
In my opinion, she only behaves civilly with me when her mother is present.
Why won’t she let me in?
Dear Saddened: The way I read your narrative, “Maura” was raised by a single mother, has always lived with her mother, and has no other family — and possibly few personal connections outside of the household.
Now, approaching her own middle age, her mother brings in someone new.
This is bound to create uncertainty for her. Your presence reminds her of her own vulnerability. She may not understand that there is an advantage for her to form an independent friendship with you.
If she behaves well toward you for her mother’s sake, I’d say — it’s a start.
You should behave kindly and consistently toward her. You could attempt to communicate an awareness that your presence presented a huge life change for her and that you appreciate her efforts to make room for you.
You and “Laura” could also create some inclusive “family” rituals: Game night, movie night, or joining a club together could provide some more common ground.
Also, respect her privacy. If she is an introvert who values being alone — then respect her need for quiet.
It is also possible that she just doesn’t like you. If so, accept her politeness.
Dear Amy: My best friend and I have been in political agreement for 30 years. However, he has started watching a politically biased broadcast, and has fallen into a rabbit hole.
I enjoy his company, and we have agreed to disagree. On occasion we discuss our differences in healthy conversations, but I find myself obsessing over his conversion.
How do I stop obsessing? I know some couples living together that have opposing views. How do they do it?
— Stop Obsessing
Dear Stop: Couples who manage to have peaceful relationships even with opposing political views do this by recognizing every citizen’s right to think what they want to think, express their views peacefully, and to change their minds if they want to.
However, there are rabbit holes and there are rabid rabbit holes.
If your pal is obsessed with some strange, conspiracy-fueled nonsense that is overtaking his conversation and relationship with you, then you might want to re-evaluate the relationship.
However, in this regard, you are the one with the obsession.
Your friend might be rethinking the relationship with you.
Dear Amy: I was touched by the letter from “Grace,” the veterinarian whose own pet dog died, but had clients respond that she “should be used to it.”
We often forget that veterinarians and healthcare workers are human, too.
I’d like to suggest that Grace frame and hang a picture of herself and her pet in her office’s reception area with wording such as “We at XYZ office love our furry and feathered clients, and remember our own we’ve lost.”
It would be a wonderful tribute and reminder to visitors that staff also feel losses.
— Pet Parent
Dear Pet Parent: I love this idea. Many readers reached out to express their condolences to “Grace.”
(You can email Amy Dickinson at email@example.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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