Dear Ann Cannon • I love social media. Consequently, I’ve reached out to people from my past. Several have responded — old boyfriends, to be specific. I’m enjoying learning how they have been and what they are doing now. My husband and children, however, aren’t as excited about this as I am. We’re wondering what your thoughts are on this matter.
—Just Call Me Curious
Dear Curious • After reading your question, I find I have some questions for you. Would you be OK with your husband and married adult children reaching out via social media to former love interests? When you say “reached out to people” from your past, did you reach out to people other than old boyfriends, as well? If the answer is no, what was your reason for connecting with old boyfriends?
The fact that your family knows you’ve reached out to old boyfriends tells me (I think) that you’re not being particularly secretive. That fact alone should make them feel less uneasy. The whole online thing becomes more problematic when people start hiding what they’re doing from their partners, right?
Still, even though your cyberfriendships sound like they’re purely platonic, it’s smart to be cautious when reconnecting with former flames online — especially if you or the old boyfriend is in a tough place emotionally. The temptation to fantasize about how much better your life would have been (or could be in the future) is powerful.
So. If you value your relationship with your husband, be transparent and honest with him about your online friendships, is what I’m saying. And above all be honest with yourself about what you’re doing and why.
Dear Ann Cannon • My adult daughter continuously treats me like I’m senile. Hey. I’ve managed to reach nearly 70 without constant care. Why does she think I’ve lost the ability to function without her input?
— Still Savvy Senior
Dear Savvy • Oh, I hear you. My boys like to take pictures of the way I park my car and text them to one another. (Memo to my kid: It was totally dark when I parked at the doctor’s office, OK? So the next time you need a ride cuz you broke your ankle, don’t call me.)
Here’s what I think. It makes our adult children feel useful and superior when they tell us what to do, which is why I am more than happy to tell my mother what and how much she should buy whenever we go to Costco together.
For the record, she ignores me.
Let her example inspire you.
Dear Ann Cannon • After raising a family for 20 years, I worked for another 25. I’m now retired and happily content to stay at home and do nothing. My family thinks I should go out and volunteer or socialize, but I just don’t want to. How can I get them off my case?
— Happy Hermit
Dear Happy Hermit • Let me just say that I’m fully supportive of people who engage in volunteer work. I also think creating and maintaining social connections as we age is important for our mental and emotional well-being. In the end, however, I think you’ve earned the right to do as you damn well please.
Let your family know that you appreciate their concern — I’m guessing that’s what’s driving their suggestions — but that for now you’re happy to be a homebody. Refuse to feel guilty and (see above answer) cheerfully ignore them.
Dear Ann Cannon • Is there really such a thing as “age appropriate” dress for older women? I think some of the latest styles are attractive, but I don’t want to look ridiculous.
— Fashionista Wannabe
Dear Fashionista • I’m probably the last person you should ask about this because I buy most of my clothes accidentally while shopping for ice cream and a gallon of milk at places like Smith’s Marketplace. So let me refer you instead to photographer Ari Seth Cohen’s charming blog called “Advanced Style” (www.advanced.style) and invite you to decide for yourself.