Welcome back to the advice column with a twist. In case you’re new here, this is how it works: all questions are anonymously sent in to the QR code, and an older community member writes back with their advice. Responses are published every two weeks. Thank you, Bowdoin community, for sending in your questions, and to People Plus—a community recreation center for older adults in Brunswick—for sending back such thoughtful responses. Next time, we will talk about love. How do you know if your partner is the one? Do you stay with your partner if you’re going abroad? If you can relate, stay tuned!
Q: My parents are worried about me being so far away at college and are calling me every day. I can’t handle this much smothering. How do I tell them that I appreciate the affection and respectfully need more space?
“Change your phone number.” – Loraine, 76
“Tell your parents they did a good job raising you to be a strong, independent adult, and now’s the time to let you stretch your wings. Set a time once a week to catch up, but more than that makes you feel like they are worried. Say I got this, thank you!” – Ed, 62
“Ask them to cut back slowly. But remember—they have had you for years, and it’s traumatic for them with you gone. Forty years from now you’ll be calling to check on them.” – Alison, 71
“As an only child, my parents insisted I go to a local college and live at home. It was the biggest mistake. You have no social life, no sense of community with your school.” – Susan, 80
“Call them frequently to keep them posted on your activities, act like you have a proper upbringing and they will soon realize that you are doing well and [will] appreciate your contact with home.” – Twila, 75
“Set a regular time to talk once a week. As Ed said, thank them for raising you in a loving family. This is your time to explore who you are and to try different things. Keep your parents in the loop, but live your life to the full[est].” – Shirl, 70
Q: A guy I like is very inconsistent and is sending me mixed signals, and I can’t tell if I am viewed as a second option. Despite that, I still like him. Do you have any advice?
“Find another guy.” – Loraine, 76
“Nobody wants to be a second option. If you feel it, something isn’t right. When he’s ready to put you first, you’ll know.” – Ed, 62
“Sit back, wait—and don’t respond. The time will come when you know how to respond.” – Alison, 71
“Don’t devalue yourself. You are young. You do not have to be his number one. Circulate, date, find yourself.” – Susan, 80
“Sure, you can like him. But don’t change yourself to get him to make you his number one. Keep meeting people, and maybe you’ll click with someone else. Do not fall into the trap that he’s the one for you. Find someone who will value you! And work on things that make you happy—not necessarily a guy.” – Shirl, 70
“Play it cool. Let him make the moves.” – Twila, 75
Q: What would your advice be about regaining a friend’s trust after you’ve broken it? I really hurt a close friend’s feelings a few months ago. We talked it through, and I apologized, but things still don’t feel the same as they did before.
“Just keep smiling. Stop punishing yourself—you apologized—that was the right thing.” – Susan, 80
“Give it time. Trust needs to be earned, and that means actions rather than words. Find opportunities to re-establish trustworthiness. Be there for your friend.” – Ed, 62
“Give her a break to figure it out. Let her come to you.” – Beth, 75
“You have apologized, and now it’s time to let your friend figure out her response. Let go of the outcome. Stay open and loving to her.” – Shirley, 70
Q: How do I come out of the closet to my parents?
“Open the door! Your parents probably have some idea; they’re just waiting for you to be comfortable enough with your identity to reach out to them. They will love you no matter what.” – Ed, 62
“When you are ready, you will. Don’t be afraid to begin the conversation.” – Beth, 75
“You may want to tell the parent you are closest to that you are gay. Then reach out to the other parent. They have raised you to be a good person. Tell them. But you are your own person with your own path to follow. Tell them you love them.” – Shirley, 70
“They might already know, but sit down with them, gently, and fill them in. Just say it—they will get used to it.” – Susan, 80