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10:11 AM Sun, Nov. 18th

Dear Annie: Friend hazard

Dear Annie: I need advice on how to sever a guy friendship that has become increasingly difficult. We first met on the golf course and played several rounds together. Both of us enjoyed playing and talking about the game of golf.

But it soon became apparent that he has very few friends because of his attention-seeking, self-absorbed personality. He calls me on a regular basis, sometimes to discuss golf on TV and sometimes to talk about his various health issues, real and imagined.

Now that he’s given up playing golf, we have very little in common. He spouts outrageous opinions on health topics, women, racial issues and politics. He is an unabashed bigot. He obviously needs mental health counseling for low self-esteem issues. But that would be an impossibly hard sell. Is there any way that I could gently ease myself away from this well-intended but failed friendship? – Teed Off

Dear Teed: Your empathy is commendable, but you can’t save this man from himself. The next time he asks you to do something together, simply say, “No, thanks.” It may feel strange at first, but you don’t owe him any more explanation than that. You are not responsible for his emotions.

Dear Annie: My husband and I have a delightful 9-year-old grandson. He is a kind, caring, intelligent child. His parents and elders have taught him to respect everyone and to stand up for himself and others when the occasion occurs. I love him beyond words. My husband had always had a good relationship with him until recently.

A few years ago, my grandson made the decision to stop cutting his hair. His hair now reaches halfway down his back. My husband hates it. He continually tries to convince both my grandson and his father (our son) that the hair should be cut and he should get a “boy” haircut. Because he hasn’t been able to make this happen, he has started to insult and bully both my son and my grandson.

This baffles me because as a teenager, my husband had long hair. I’ve tried discussing it with my husband, but he can’t seem to see our grandson as anything but a walking, talking head of hair. It has gotten so bad that my son has suggested that we limit our time with them.

Could you suggest an approach that will help my husband see his grandchild for what he is instead of focusing on his looks? – Sad Grandma

Dear Grandma: Your husband needs to cut it out. Whether it’s coming from a kid at school or a grandparent, bullying is never OK.

Press the question of why it bothers him so much that your grandson has long hair. Ask him whether he can remember when he grew his hair out as a younger person, and then ask why he did it and how it made him feel if adults ever gave him a hard time about it.

What matters most is that your grandson is healthy and that you have a relationship with him -- something that won’t exist if he keeps this up.

Dear Annie: I’m a maternity nurse and university professor. My area of expertise is perinatal loss. I read the column regarding a friend’s response to a miscarriage. This is what I’d like to say to “Friend in Need”:

I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. Your friend’s response was most likely accentuated because she was pregnant and hearing of your experience made her feel vulnerable.

People often don’t know what to say, so they avoid the bereaved, which is painful. I’m not making excuses for her. Death happens, and we need to learn to say “I’m sorry” and not feel we need to fix it. Nothing but time will ease your pain.

Loss of a friend added to your losses. I hope that you find a new friend who is empathetic to you. Unfortunately, there are many of us women who are in this unwanted “club.” – A Nurse in the Know

Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.