Ask Amy: Oldies are not always goodies

February 29, 2012

DEAR AMY: I am 80 years old. I have a male friend who is also 80, and we have been enjoying each other’s company for more than a year. A while ago, he told me he has had another friend for a long time and he was having trouble giving her up. Meanwhile, our relationship has progressed. I think they see each other from time to time for several days at a time. I am not sure what type of relationship they have — whether they are just friends or bed partners.

My problem is, I would like to know where that relationship stands as compared with the one he and I have. Our relationship has progressed to a point that I am very uncomfortable sleeping with him if he is sleeping with another woman. I have another male friend who would like to have a sexual relationship with me, but I just don’t feel right about it. I don’t know how to deal with this situation. What do you suggest? -- Confused

DEAR CONFUSED: There is an alarming and growing incidence of sexually transmitted disease among older people.

You might not want to think that you are at risk for an STD, but if you and your partner are sexually active with multiple partners, your first effort should be to visit your health care provider for a full screening for STDs, including HIV and cervical cancer.

According to statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost a quarter of all Americans with HIV/AIDS are older than 50.

This is the reality of being in a sexual relationship with someone who has multiple partners. This reality should help you achieve some clarity about a situation that carries emotional and physical risks for you — and this man’s other partner — as well as any other partners you might have. You two must have a frank and careful discussion about this.

If you do not want to be in a relationship with him while he is seeing someone else, and if he won’t alter his behavior or use a condom, then you should make the difficult choice to — at the very least — cease your sexual relationship with him.

DEAR AMY: I am preparing for an overseas wedding this fall. As you can imagine, the wedding is much more expensive because it is overseas (my fiance is from Europe), and so we have a tight budget.

Unfortunately we have an acquaintance, whom neither of us knows well, who invited himself to our wedding when he found out I was engaged several years ago!

I recently mustered up the courage to tell him that we couldn’t invite him, but before I could get any words out he told me he was telling his friends that he was coming to my wedding (we haven’t even set a date yet!).

I was horrified and then didn’t say anything to contradict him. However, I’m very upset that now I’m obliged to invite him, especially because I’ll have to cut out others to whom I am much closer. I feel I made my own mess by not saying anything earlier, but I’m terribly upset about the situation. What should I do? -- Upset Bride

DEAR BRIDE: You did not make your own mess. Someone else is messing with you, and you can fix it by being honest.

You need to contact this person quickly to say, “I’m so sorry — I’m embarrassed because I know you are counting on an invitation to our wedding, but I’m afraid we won’t be able to invite you.”

Resist the temptation to fill in all sorts of details about budgets, airlines, friends vs. family, etc. You can say, “We have to keep our guest list very small.” Simply leave it at that. Do not let this person bully, persuade or guilt you into an invitation.

DEAR AMY: I really enjoyed your column on Valentine’s Day, in which you quoted elders about what makes marriage tick — and last.

My own experience is that communication is the key. If you can talk about everything, you can solve anything. -- Been There

DEAR BEEN THERE: There is no question that talking about everything can be extremely challenging — but I agree that communication is the answer to a successful marriage.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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