DEAR AMY: My husband and I have been married for 25 years. We have a happy marriage, except for one issue. For the past three years, since joining Facebook, my husband has been contacting former girlfriends.
He does background searches on them: whom they married, what their spouses look like, where they work and property information to see where they live and how much their homes are worth.
He then starts to communicate with them, delving into personal and emotional aspects of their lives.
I accidentally discovered this when his cellphone alarm went off and I saw a text message from a woman I had never heard of. There were hundreds of messages between the two of them. They had switched from Facebook to texting to avoid detection from her husband.
There was nothing overtly sexual (only flirty), and he asked her to send a picture from when she was a cheerleader in high school.
I insisted he stop communicating with her, which he did. A few months later I discovered that he had created another account and a dossier of pictures of her from high school and from Facebook, along with his background research.
In the past year, he has done this at least six times with other women. One is a complete stranger (not someone from his past).
When I tell him this makes me very uncomfortable, he clams up and then accuses me of being jealous and controlling. He tells me there is nothing sexual going on, and says he has never been unfaithful (I agree).
Should this not bother me? He says I have no right to tell him whom he can communicate with.
— Anxious Spouse
DEAR ANXIOUS: Your husband is right — you have no right to tell him whom he can communicate with. But embedded within the emotional contract of marriage is the implicit agreement that spouses will make every effort not to cause their partner pain or anxiety.
His "investigations" and dossiers are creepy. Delving into emotional and intimate conversations with these women definitely crosses the line. His secrecy tells you that he knows this is wrong.
Your husband does not have the "right" to tell you how to feel. This is interfering with the intimate connection between the two of you.
I gather he does not do this with male friends from high school. Why not?
DEAR AMY: I have a friend who recently decided to become vegetarian/vegan. She now shares articles via email and Facebook calling people who eat meat "depraved," "confused" and "unethical."
There was even an article accusing meat eaters of being "species-ist."
I could care less about her diet, but how should I deal with the vicious language she's using toward people like me who do eat meat?
Every time I try to talk to her about it, she thinks I'm somehow disagreeing with vegetarianism, which is not the case. I don't want to lose a good friend but things are going downhill fast.
— Offended Omnivore
DEAR OFFENDED: It would be fairly easy to block or "hide" these messages. If you don't want to do this, I suggest you alter your own attitude and see these diatribes for what they are: vegetarian comedy.
If you insist that these polemics are hilarious you might be able to enjoy them — along with a nice juicy steak and a glass of merlot.
DEAR AMY: I applaud you for giving "Worried's" 40-something boyfriend such high marks for his claim to "not be a racist" in front of her.
While I believe that certain personal beliefs can be changed, I sense that his "horrible, derogatory terms" directed at "several racial groups" are not new to him.
Racists will let their prejudice show and grow, for it is a cancer. They often try to mask it in "humor."
She summed it up when she said, "It isn't just that he said those words; it's that he thinks them." It was her heart that heard and felt those words.
— Not Convinced
DEAR NOT: I sincerely believe that people can change their views — even at the age of 40-something. This man's acknowledgment of his racism and his willingness to behave differently add up to a definite start.
Send questions via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.