Annie's Mailbox: Friend’s negativity is troublesome

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Dear Annie: I am a 23-year-old girl, and my best friend, “Natalie,” is my roommate. We have been best friends since childhood and have a strong bond. We went to the same high school, now attend the same college and even studied abroad together.

The problem is, Natalie has a tendency to be a storm cloud of negativity. Even though she has a great boyfriend, lots of good friends, plenty of money and a terrific family, her ability to always focus on the negative is beginning to wear on me.

For 10 years, I have fought my hardest to make her smile no matter what it took. Two months ago, I threw a surprise birthday party for her. She’d been telling me for nearly a year that she couldn’t wait to have a great birthday with her friends away from home. I did my best to prepare everything perfectly and spent a lot of money and energy. But I felt it was worth it for my best friend. Everything seemed to be going perfectly until she began crying at the party. Afterward, I asked her what was going on. She said she wasn’t getting enough attention at the party.

Annie, everyone was fawning all over her the entire night, but somehow it wasn’t sufficient for Natalie. After this, I started to withdraw from her. No matter how hard I try to please her, it’s never good enough. Right now, I don’t want to do anything more for her because it’s too painful. Am I out of line to feel this way? What can I do to make her happy?

— Best Friend Forever

Dear BFF: Nothing. Natalie isn’t simply a”storm cloud of negativity,” dear. She’s a bottomless pit of emotional need and sounds a bit self-absorbed, as well. Your efforts will never be good enough. The best thing you can do for her is recommend she get therapy to find out why she is unable to appreciate the good things in her life.

Dear Annie: I am a 65-year-old man, married to my lovely wife for 40 years. I love her more now than when we first met.

Our sex life used to be great but, as expected, has slowed over time. A year ago, my wife told me we will no longer be having sex. She said she no longer wants or enjoys it. She has a vaginal dryness problem, and her desire has gone to zero. She moved into the guest bedroom, claiming I snore too much.

She also avoids all affectionate contact. We hardly kiss anymore, and I am not allowed to touch her or even see her body. She is a very attractive woman. I have no idea if she has a problem being with me or if it’s age related. She will not discuss it or talk to a doctor. I miss being intimate with her. Does this happen to all couples our age?

— Frustrated in N.J.

Dear N.J.: Not all couples, but unfortunately, it is also not uncommon. It is likely age-related. Your wife isn’t interested in intimacy any longer, and she doesn’t want to encourage you by kissing or touching. The problem is her unwillingness to discuss it or find ways to work on it. Tell her she is risking the marriage, and ask her to come with you for counseling. We hope she will.

Dear Annie: “Going Gray” doesn’t want to color her hair. She knows the gray makes her look old enough to be mistaken for her husband’s mother or her son’s grandmother, and she still chooses not to color it. Why would she need a snappy comeback? It’s her choice. She can’t have it both ways.

— What’s the Problem?

Dear What: We agree. If she chooses to let her hair go gray naturally, she should not be surprised to be mistaken for someone older. It comes with the territory. But we don’t believe she was looking for anything “snappy.” Rather, she wanted something to correct a mistaken impression.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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