I became estranged from my family after I came out as gay. I am OK with it and don't really care anymore. The problem is, besides having no family, I have no friends either. I always had difficulty making friends. I'm an introvert and was bullied at school, so I found it more comfortable just hanging out at home by myself.

I have come to accept the absence of friends as my reality. I try to do fun things by myself, like seeing movies and eating out at restaurants, but the holiday season is hard to bear. Most people look forward to it, but I dread this time of year. It only makes me more aware of how alone and lonely I am.

I am too embarrassed to go out by myself during the holidays, because most people are out with family and friends. Can you suggest some things I could do for the holidays instead of staying home and watching TV by myself?

- Holiday hurting in the East

DEAR HOLIDAY HURTING: I may be able to solve two of your problems at the same time. Start calling some of the charitable organizations in your area, and ask if they can use an extra pair of hands during the holiday season. Serving food at a homeless shelter or food pantry and delivering meals to shut-ins come to mind.

A sure cure for the blues is to reach out and do something for someone who needs a helping hand. If you try it, you may meet like-minded people and start some friendships.

Overwhelming losses


My wife of 37 years is a perfectionist. I am not. Her father used to call her "Little Miss Perfect." I try to help around the house, but she always comes afterward to "correct" my mistakes and make things "perfect." I am not sloppy about my work - just not up to her standards.

Two examples: I make the bed; she remakes it. I can't even mow the grass correctly because she likes diagonal cuttings, and I cut parallel to the street. After one day, there's no difference. As a result, I have given up helping.

This doesn't bother her one bit; she gladly does all the work. Further, she's busy all day. We never have a chance to talk. When we do, it is always trivial: the weather, our schedule, or her job at work.

I am retired and find this disconcerting. When I try my hobbies, she's all over me, so I quit them. Most men would trade places in an instant, but I'm just trying to figure out how to live with her and myself. I try to golf a lot.

- Unhappy hubby in Michigan

DEAR UNHAPPY HUBBY: Has it occurred to you that your wife may suffer from OCD and that that's the reason everything has to be "perfect"? It appears the only thing that isn't perfect is your marriage.

Perhaps it's time you talked to her about how her obsession with perfection makes you feel - because, from where I sit, it comes across as a passive-aggressive put-down.

Unless she's willing to recognize that what she's doing isn't healthy for your marriage and to consider professional help, nothing will change.

In the meantime, consider more hobbies you can do on your own or with friends - hiking, hunting, skiing, fishing, etc.