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Ask Amy: Overwhelmed man wants to withdraw

Dear Amy: I'm struggling. We started a business and had a baby during the pandemic. My wife and I have become reclusive (especially me).

The isolation has caused me to lose my social graces.

Basically, I just feel annoyed by everyone.

I don't want to get together with people.

My increased presence on social media has shown me how crazy some of these friends' ideas are.

I liked them better when I knew less. I could just focus on what we have in common. I've discovered some very unattractive traits about a lot of the people I interact with.

I'd like to ask how to return to previous ways, but I don't know if I even want to.

I still do some things: I play sports and coach, but I don't really socialize much.

I used to go to parties, bars, golf outings, etc.

I just don't feel like doing these things anymore, and I'm turned off by people.

Maybe I've just become super judgmental. I'm letting these friendships and relationships go because I feel like I can't deal with them — or don't want to be bothered.

It's to the point where any little thing can get you on my no-friend list now.

I suppose it is neurotic, but I'm just not sure how to turn the tiller.

It's even affecting my family.

Obviously, I suffer from some anxiety and depression, but I don't feel like they've taken over my life.

I just don't want to hang out anymore. I feel like I should want to, but I just don't.

- Struggling Dude in the Midwest

Struggling Dude in the Midwest: First, take a very deep breath. You have experienced extremely stressful life changes during the past year. Starting a business and having a baby are two events that are bound to profoundly affect how you spend your time.

However, based on what you report, I would say that your anxiety and depression are dominating your life.

Your hair-trigger anger is alarming, and you are perceptive to see this change in your temperament as a definite cause for concern. It’s time to take this seriously; start with a visit to your primary care physician; seek a referral to a therapist.

Your experience of the pandemic has amplified everything for you, and like many people (myself included), you are resisting “getting back out there.”

Please, detach from whatever social media is triggering you. (I’ve done this, and it has helped.) You could preserve some of your real-world relationships with people who are good at life but awful on social media.

You and your wife should make a date to take your baby to a park, cafe, or playground. Sit together and enjoy your child. Tiptoe out into the world in stages, and you’ll encounter parents of young children and other people (like me) who are also fumbling, blinking and gingerly emerging.

Dear Amy: My husband of 17 years thinks it's okay that we live in different countries. We have lived apart for 11 years now, and I live with both of our children. He barely supports us.

I asked for a divorce. He accepts but insisted that I betrayed him.

He is guilt-tripping me by reminiscing about the beginning of our marriage.

I am confused by his reaction. How should I proceed?

- Confused

Confused: You should proceed directly to your lawyer’s office.

In addition to any actual sentiment on your husband’s part, you could assume that maintaining the status quo of living apart is quite simply cheaper for him than paying child support.

Dear Amy: The letter about the interrupting wife reminded me of a story from my early career in the 1980s.

I went on a business trip to New York City with my boss, a reserved man from the English countryside.

We spent the day with an Italian American New Yorker, touring trading floors.

At the end of the day, the two of them talked about how our host had done almost all of the talking for the whole day.

He talked about business, but also family, food — you name it.

My boss said that where he came from, you couldn't speak until the other person had finished.

Our host replied that where he came from you had to keep talking until you were interrupted.

We all thought this was very funny — and what a great cultural lesson!

- Earned and Learned

Earned and Learned: One thing I appreciate about this story is how the two men decoded and shared their own communication styles.

2021 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency