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9:16 PM Sat, Nov. 17th

Dear Annie: Family members’ regrettable social media posts

Dear Annie: This is an issue I imagine many people are having. Sometimes my family members post things I disagree with online. Many times, I’ve found myself typing up a comment, only to decide against clicking the “submit” button.

I really don’t want to get into arguments with loved ones about politics, so I refrain from saying anything. I just talk to friends who already pretty much agree with me on the major issues. But that doesn’t seem right, either. Isn’t that part of why our country is so polarized right now? I feel that it’s my responsibility to have civilized discussions with people with whom I disagree so I might change their minds and they might change mine. Should I jump into these conversations and speak my mind or continue to keep quiet? Is sharing caring? - Unsure in Ohio

Dear Unsure: Respectfully debating ideas with differently minded folks is healthy and positive. Of course, that’s not what anyone is doing on Facebook. Though there are always exceptions, the vast majority of political “debate” on social media is an endless mudslinging contest in which everyone gets dirty and nobody wins.

If you want to talk to your relatives about these issues, it’d be wiser to do so in person or at least over the phone so you can hear each other’s tone of voice. But it would be wiser still to focus your energy on effecting positive change in your community rather than on relatives’ minds that don’t want changing.

Dear Annie: I’m pretty sure that I’m “the other woman.” And no, I don’t mean the rom-com kind who gets to team up with Cameron Diaz and catch the bad guy in action. I mean the kind who third-wheels a relationship between a boy and his mother. I finally found a guy I am head over heels in love with, and he seems to feel the same way about me. But it was clearly too good to be true.

He is the only child of a single mother. At first, I thought she hated me, but then her sister let slip that I’m the favorite girlfriend so far. I realized that she just hates anyone who comes between her and her son. And honestly, that’s the last thing I want to do.

Annie, I would love to be close to the family of the man I love. How fantastic would it be to have an extra mom?! But I’ve tried, and she cannot stand me, and she cannot stand when he’s with me. She needs to know what he’s doing and conveniently needs him to run errands for her or bring her sweets or otherwise be at her beck and call when he is with me. She controls every aspect of his life, and he is constantly apologizing to me on her behalf. It makes me frustrated. But I can’t take it out on him, because he’s not doing anything wrong.

To be honest, it’s starting to wear me down. But I also can’t say anything, as I know there’s nothing like the bond between a mother and her child. I would not even consider going to war, because I know that’s a battle I could not win. I’m afraid to confront him - or her - but I fear for my own heart and sanity if I remain silent. I don’t want to make him choose, but how do I tell him to take action? -- Mommy’s Third Wheel

Dear Mommy’s Third Wheel: After printing a similar letter in the past, I heard from many readers who have dated men with controlling mothers. Their consensus: Until the man cuts the cord from Mom, any romantic relationship he has will be severely constricted. Some have even told me that this issue ended a marriage.

I share all this not to scare you but to reassure you that yes, this is a big deal. And yes, you do have to talk to him about it. You’re not making him choose between the two of you. If she decides to frame it that way, that’s her issue.

You’re simply asking him to set better boundaries. If he’s not sure where to begin, a book on this subject, such as “Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents,” might offer some guidance. If he’s truly a match, he won’t let his mom’s unhealthy attachment destroy the connection you have.

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.