Dear Annie: My friend “Tina” constantly sends me e-mail chain letters. Usually the subject line says, “Send this back to me,” and the body of the e-mail is some sentimental sappy poem about friendship or cute graphics of angels or kittens, and then — drumroll, please — comes the chain mail threat. You know, the one that says, “Send this back to the person who sent it to you and then forward it to 15 of your friends within 24 hours or you’ll have bad luck for a year.” It usually includes an example of some anonymous person who deleted the e-mail and was subsequently hit by a bus.
Yes, it’s complete and utter superstitious nonsense and I find it very annoying. And those people who actually believe this tripe can be emotionally affected if the chain breaks. What kind of “friend” would do that to another?
I never, ever, answer these or forward them, which is beginning to bother Tina. She’s not a bad person — just superstitious. How can I gently tell her that, as much as I value our friendship, I’d rather she stop sending these ridiculous things to me? — Deliberately Missing Link in Virginia
Dear Virginia: Tell Tina you appreciate her sentimental good wishes, but you absolutely will not follow the directions in chain letters or pass them along. Let her know if she keeps sending them your direction, you can guarantee the chain will be broken. She may be disappointed, but it should solve your problem.
Dear Annie: My husband and I are separated and he moved in with his girlfriend six weeks ago.
A few weeks ago, I had to call the girlfriend’s husband in order to pass along some information. “Harris” and I met for dinner and haven’t stopped calling each other since. We occasionally meet for coffee or drinks. There is an attraction that gets stronger each time.
I have met Harris’ children and my kids have met him. However, our spouses have no idea we are seeing each other. I realize we are not the ones who broke up the marriages, but I just don’t know whether this is proper.
We seem so compatible. Should we continue this relationship at a slow pace to see where it takes us, or must we go our separate ways? — Waiting Patiently
Dear Waiting: If there is a possibility that your husband or Harris’ wife will attempt a reconciliation, you might not want to pursue a relationship. It is always risky to become involved with someone who is still legally married. However, if reconciliation is out of the question and divorce is imminent, you may date whomever you wish. Your respective spouses may not like it, mainly because it means you have managed to find happiness without them, but it’s not their call. If you can handle some awkward family gatherings, there is nothing otherwise improper about dating your ex-husband’s current girlfriend’s ex-husband. (Whew.)
Dear Annie: This is in response to “Friends Go Dutch,” who said women who just want to be friends should pay their own way.
I agree that friends should share the cost of meals when they go out, but his remark that “she shouldn’t be accepting generosity that creates obligation” really irked me. Since when are women obligated to go to bed with a man because they are dating? All she owes him for a meal is a “thank you.” If a man is buying a woman dinner and expecting sexual favors in return, he might as well just leave the money on the nightstand, if you get my drift. — Disgusted in Arizona
Dear Arizona: We agree that women do not owe sexual favors for a free dinner, but when men bear the entire cost of dating, they believe the woman is interested in a romantic, eventually intimate, relationship. They otherwise feel used and resent it. Whether justified or not, women would be wise to keep it in mind.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. E-mail your questions to email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 1.24.08