Dear Annie: Why can’t children of widowed parents be happy when their surviving parent finds a new companion? As a recently divorced senior citizen, I have re-entered the dating scene. I have dated a couple of widows whose children (in their 30s and 40s) have proved to be a real challenge. These ladies have been widowed for three to 10-plus years, yet their children are a real obstacle. Why can’t they be happy that their mom has found a new companion instead of resisting it and, in one case, preventing their mom from continuing the relationship? I think this is very selfish and even harmful to their parent. What would you tell these adult children? — We Deserve Happiness

Dear We Deserve Happiness: I would tell these adult children to let love rule. It’s unfair for them to prevent their parents from being in loving romantic relationships. Perhaps they’re displacing their anger over the loss of a parent, taking it out on the new love interest. It might help if you were to take care to respect the memory of their fathers and make clear that you’re not trying to replace anyone.

Lastly, I’m not saying this is the case with you, but sometimes grown children pick up on signs that new partners don’t have their parents’ best interests at heart, and their protectiveness is justified.

Dear Annie: My boyfriend has a friend named “Melissa,” and I’m wary of their relationship.

I’ve seen Melissa put her arms around my boyfriend’s neck while his hands were on her hips. They’ve kissed repeatedly on the lips in front of me.

I privately and calmly complained to my boyfriend about the kissing and how disrespectful and hurtful it is to me, and I asked him how he would feel if I were kissing another man like that. His answers were: “It’s a Southern thing” and “Melissa’s mother just died.” (Her mother died a few months ago.) He then accused me of being jealous.

I told him that at least where I come from, we have boundaries, have respect for other people’s feelings and treat others the way we would like to be treated. Now whenever a grandmotherly friend gives him a peck on the cheek, he brings up the Melissa incidents with me, trying to say it’s the same thing. And every single time, we have a disagreement, and I burst into tears.

Is this a “Southern thing,” and how should I handle it if it happens again? — Southern Exposure

Dear Southern Exposure: Rounding first base with friends is not a “Southern thing,” and there isn’t enough Southern charm in the world to sell that whopper. This man’s behavior and his disregard for your concerns are both billowing red flags. If he’s not willing to hear out your (perfectly reasonable) request that he not kiss the lips or touch the hips of other women, it’s time to move on.

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