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We’ve Seen It All: Appreciating Loved Ones

November 10, 2023

Kaya Patel

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 through the QR code, and community members from People Plus—a community recreation center for older adults in Brunswick—write back with their advice. Responses are published every two weeks.

While most weeks we’ll have a variety of shorter responses, we wanted to switch it up this week, with longer answers from one community member! Please read Charmaine’s (74) in-depth advice on questions about appreciating your loved ones below. Next time, we’ll be getting advice about anxiety and embarrassment! How can you worry less? What should you do after you’ve embarrassed yourself? If this sounds like something that resonates with you, stay tuned!

Q: “How do you make sure everyone you love knows that you love them?”

A: It can take many forms and, for sure, reflects a person’s style or personality. With my son, we always just say “I love you” as we leave one another’s company. He started that, and it makes it easier for me to say it back. At first, I thought it was sappy or superficial, but then I grew to like it. It’s like a mini-ritual that we share. And I have one friend that always signs off emails with an “xo.” That same friend knows I like potato chips, and we often give each other small bags of chips if the other one is having a hard time. Now that my sister is really sick, I say it because I think she needs to know that. Sometimes it might be what you say in a birthday card or just remember what someone said, so they know you truly see and hear them.

Q: I love my boyfriend of several years and think he is a wonderful person. But things have been rough lately, and he’s been treating me with less kindness and less sensitivity. Is it worth trying to rekindle? In other words, how do you know when to let go of a relationship?

A: You have to talk and communicate to see what’s truly going on. Is he stressed about something else that might be coming between you? There are ways to do that gracefully … asking questions is a good way. As in, “Gee, I notice you seem a little more far away, and I wonder if there’s something going on that’s bothering you.” If a good conversation can’t happen after a couple of tries, and you still feel continually left out or hurt, you may want to think of letting go.

Q: “I notice my parents are growing older. How do I spend more time with them? Do you have any examples of things your children or friends have done to make you feel appreciated?”

A: Well, one thing I like is when my child says thank you for a meal or whatever. Or he will ask me if I’m interested in going to a movie that we both might enjoy or give me a birthday present that shows he really thought about what to get me.

Q: “I’m having a hard time balancing my social and academic life, specifically about my romantic partner. How do you learn to balance everything?”

A: Maybe you could set aside a specific time or times for schoolwork during the week. You could tell your partner that you would be more relaxed and fun when you’re together if you knew you had certain times to devote to schoolwork. Maybe see each other less during the week and more on the weekends?

Q: What do I do when the guy I like already has a girlfriend?

A: I had a situation like that, and I just made a point of honoring the relationship that already existed. I took it in stride and still enjoyed the company of the guy I liked. Actually, it kind of freed me up to have lighter, friendly fun with that guy rather than holding on to romantic hopes and expectations.


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