Turning over new leaf means turning away bigoted friends

DEAR ABBY: My friendships have always included people of different races, religions, nationalities, sexual orientations, professions, etc. A few years ago, I had an experience that was both devastating and humbling on several different levels. It caused me to do a lot of introspection and self-improvement, which led to my becoming a more empathetic person.

Over the last few years, I have distanced myself from old friends and acquaintances who were racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. I have replaced them with new relationships with people who embrace diversity. Some of the people I no longer see ask me why we don’t talk or get together anymore. I don’t want to give them excuses like, “I’ve been too busy.” How do I explain to them that I don’t enjoy associating with people who hold bigoted views? — OPEN-MINDED IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR OPEN-MINDED: Because you no longer wish to associate with them, why not just respond with the truth? Say: “As you may know, I had an experience a few years ago that was life-changing. It made me re-evaluate my life and my relationships, so I decided to ‘edit’ them down and spend more time with people who think the way I do about life.”

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DEAR ABBY: I am a middle-aged man who lost my wife to cancer 2 1/2 years ago. We had no children.

I’m now feeling very alone. I don’t seem to fit in anywhere. My old “guy” friends avoid me, and our married “couple” friends leave me out because I am not a couple anymore. I understand that, because they all do “couple” things. But even my family seems to have set me aside. When my wife was alive, we would be invited to my siblings’ homes for dinners during the holidays and other times. Now I often don’t even get a phone call.

There are times I feel like I have been cast off by everyone. Please help, Abby. — LONELY KANSAN

DEAR LONELY KANSAN: I’ll try. With most married couples, the wives are the ones who make the social plans. This may be why you aren’t hearing from your “couple” friends. Why your family would choose to exclude you at a time when you need them is something I can’t explain. But they may tell you if you pick up the phone and talk to them about it.

Because you find you have time on your hands and no prospects, it’s time to establish yourself as an eligible single male. Research singles groups in your area. Go online and put your profile on some of the singles sites. Get involved in volunteer activities. Join a dance class, a yoga class, a gym. There are plenty of women out there waiting to be found, but you won’t find any of them sitting home waiting for the phone to ring.

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Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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