Abby: Retired man gives his generation silent treatment

Dear Abby
Jeanne Phillips

Dear Abby: My husband, who is retired, now prefers to talk exclusively to people under 21. He says he is “mentoring” them, though I haven’t seen any indication of this.

He says he has no interest in talking to people our age, so when we get together with our friends, who are mostly our age, he says practically nothing. When I asked why, he said he prefers to impart his knowledge to younger people. I have suggested that he volunteer with younger people, but he wasn’t interested — he just wants to hang out with them.

I’m not sure what to do. He seems depressed if they don’t respond to him in the way he would like. Mostly they show little interest in being with him. What, if anything, should I do about this? It has been going on for more than two years now.

Concerned In The Midwest

Dear Concerned: I feel sorry for your husband. He may avoid companions his own age because they remind him that he, too, is getting older. It’s no wonder young people don’t respond to him. I can imagine few pastimes less appetizing than socializing with someone who “imparts knowledge” by talking down to them. They might find him more appealing if he asked them questions and listened to what they had to say.

Consider talking to him about your concern that he is socially isolating himself from contemporaries, because the longer he continues, the less welcome he will find himself. However, until he comes to that realization and decides to fix it, do not expect anything to change.

Dear Abby: I recently began a new job, and although I love what I do, I have one problem. every day my boss, “Harold,” he asks me what I’m doing for lunch. If I say I brought my lunch, he wants me to eat it in his office with him. If I tell him I’m going out, he wants us to go out together. I don’t think he’s attracted to me; I just think he hates being alone. How do I tell him “no” without offending him or hurting his feelings?

Lunch Buddy

in South Carolina

Dear Lunch Buddy: Tell your boss politely, but firmly, that you need your lunch hour to perform personal tasks — go shopping, make personal phone calls or catch up on some reading. You are entitled to that break time, and that is what it should be used for.

Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.