Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: Something has been troubling me for some time. I’m a single woman with a well-paying career; you’d think I’d be happy. I’ve always enjoyed going out and having a busy social lifestyle with friends, but during the pandemic I haven’t heard from any of my old bar and restaurant friends in almost a year.
I had some time to think and reflect. Like, why was I the one who was always picking up the tab when going out with my girlfriends? I was starting to feel like a wallet.
I’ve also started to wonder about myself. Was I buying friendships? I also buy little gifts for friends’ birthdays, but have yet to receive anything in return. So, why do I do it? Because I know I’d enjoy if someone did this for me! Yet they don’t.
The pandemic has given me time to see if I matter with these friends. My birthday just sailed by, with no gifts on my doorstep from this set of girlfriends.
How do I kick the habit of picking up the tab once COVID lets up and I get back in circulation?
— Tired of Being Used, Osborne Village
Dear Used: Maybe it’s time to look for a new gang, where you don’t start things out by picking up tabs to make yourself popular. Other people don’t do this, and you won’t be expected to. Just pay your cheque, leave a tip and that’s it. Everyone else will do the same.
Think hard about that old gang of yours. They could have said, "It’s my turn to pick up the tab" but maybe they didn’t have much money — or maybe they were just enjoying the free ride.
If you still want to get back with them, tell them you’re saving hard for something special. Make it a secret. Let them think what they like — you’re saving for a house, a big vacation, a new car, plastic surgery.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I’ve been completely hypnotized by this mysterious, mask-wearing man for the past month. His emerald-green eyes are absolutely captivating. I find myself getting lost in thought, wondering what his full face looks like.
When I get on the bus every morning, he’s often on his phone. I sit or stand where I can watch him. He doesn’t often look up, but when he does, my body reacts!
I’ve thought of walking back a few stops to see if I could meet up with him, or get off when he gets off. With COVID restrictions, I don’t know how to approach him.
As I’m writing, I feel uncomfortable, even embarrassed. I’ve never felt like this before. It may be foolish, but I have this overwhelming curiosity to see his whole face. I want to pull down his mask and see him full-on! Please give me some advice.
— Obsessing Over Mr. Emerald, Downtown
Dear Obsessing: Even if you did get close enough to talk, he’s not going to rip his mask down for you to look, as that defeats the protective purpose of his mask. And what if you don’t like what you see, and your expression soured after he bared his face?
The logical advice would be for you to seat yourself behind him on the bus and forget about looking at him, but we both know that’s not going to happen.
You could be playful and say "Hello, green eyes!" next time you pass him in the bus aisle, but you better keep moving because you can’t get up in his face and flirt until restrictions ease.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: Mostly, I’m in agreement with your advice. However, in one of your columns last week, about a woman criticizing her husband because he had gained weight, you said it was not OK to criticize someone specifically but that it was fine to say you’re concerned about their health.
As an overweight person myself, I have had people say that to me. The fact is I know it is not good for my health. They’re not telling me something I don’t already know. For me, it’s just another way to point out the obvious — that I am overweight. I find it is as hurtful as just saying I’m fat.
I think the answer should be to just love the person for who they are. Support them to feel good about themselves. They are the only one that can make a change if they choose to.
— Nagging Doesn’t Help, Manitoba
Dear Nagging: Sometimes a partner’s weight starts to spiral out of control. That can endanger their health if left unchecked, as well as their love lives. As a partner, there’s a chance you can help if you handle things right, especially if you step up and do more of the cooking and make healthy food for both of you. You should at least (gently) be able to ask what’s wrong, since you’re a team.
Please send your questions and comments to email@example.com or Miss Lonelyhearts c/o the Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6.
Each year, the Free Press publishes more than 1,000 letters to Miss Lonelyhearts and her responses to the life and relationship questions that come her way.