DEAR ABBY: I was in a six-year relationship with a woman. We shared a home and have a child together, whom I support. She has primary custody, and I provide financial support and exercise my visitations regularly.
We broke up six months ago and she immediately moved a man into the house. Since they split up, she has done this again with a new person.
I have moved on and am content being single and focusing on my career and parenting my son when he's with me. Where I struggle is when these new men want to meet me. I don't feel obligated to shake their hands, be polite and friendly or be a supportive, smiling face.
I'm disturbed by the speed she moves into other relationships. I feel like it sets a bad example for my son regardless of how "nice" these men are. There is no record of abuse, and I do believe my ex is a good mother, just maybe lonely and very dependent on having companionship.
I understand life goes on and people move on, but at what point is this unhealthy? Am I wrong for not wanting to be friends with my ex and her new "guy friend" whenever she decides she should be accompanied for custody exchange? I refuse to speak to or acknowledge these men. I am not confrontational, but I literally have nothing to say. Any advice how to handle this moving forward? -- FAKING SMILES
DEAR FAKING SMILES: I subscribe to the philosophy that one can never have enough friends. You don't have to approve of your ex's boyfriends, but it is in your child's best interest to maintain a relationship that approximates cordiality. It won't hurt you to shake hands and be on a first-name basis with the men who occupy space in your son's life even temporarily. When we can't change something, sometimes we have to accept it -- and that's what you would be wise to do.
DEAR ABBY: I'm sure there are many others who would like to know this: I'm trying to downsize. I have a World Book Encyclopedia set from the '70s, plus yearbooks I'd like to find a home for. My kids are gone and living on their own, and the books haven't been opened in years. I refuse to throw them in the recycling bin. Any ideas? -- JOY IN NEW YORK
DEAR JOY: I did a quick search online to see what other people might be doing with their old encyclopedias. A solution popped up that might help you: Immigrants who are learning English as a second language may be able to use them if you offer them in a yard sale. A high school in your area might also be able to use them.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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