Dear Annie: I’ve been with “James” for six years. He is 57. We get along great and enjoy each other’s company. We both own our homes.

Five years ago, we became engaged, and James moved in with my 12-year-old son and me. However, every year he has some lame reason why we can’t get married — one of us will lose our homestead exemption, we will pay more taxes, etc.

He finally moved back into his own place six months ago after two years of remodeling. His reasons were numerous and hurtful. Although I keep a clean house, he says the cat hair bothered him (his cat); a sand pit next door irritated his sinuses; when the septic backed up, the bacteria in the air gave him COPD; we were living in sin; and the list goes on. Our sex life was never spectacular because of his numerous surgeries and pain medications, but I never made an issue of it, figuring you have to take the good with the bad.

James now tries to dictate my household from 15 miles away. I feel he gave up that right when he moved out. I’m 47 and want to build a life with someone. While I do love James, am I wasting my time with this man? — Florida

Dear Florida: Probably. If he cannot find a reason to marry you after five years, it isn’t likely to happen. And his excuses for moving out were petty and not the response of someone who wants a long-term commitment. The logical reaction to “living in sin” should be to get married. If you are looking to build a life with someone, James is not the guy.

Dear Annie: My son was so excited this morning because he had made plans with a friend to go to a school function, and some of the other kids were meeting up at this friend’s home. But after school, my son told me his friend uninvited him from the group. He made a great effort to control his tears.

These are middle-school boys, and it has happened before. My son says sometimes he is called stupid at school. I have a social dysfunction and have no friends myself. I’m sure my inability to relate to people has been a detriment to my son’s social development. I don’t want him to suffer as I did. I would rather my son not be invited at all than go through the rejection. It is so cruel. How do I deal with it when these things happen? — No Name

Dear No Name: Social anxiety issues tend to run in families, meaning your son could have inherited these tendencies from you. But it seems more likely that he simply has not learned the skills necessary to read social cues and interact well with others. You can find free social skills activities at wingsforkids.org, or you can ask his pediatrician for a referral. However, uninviting him to events and calling him stupid is bullying and should be pointed out to the principal and addressed through the school.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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