DEAR AMY: I work with a woman, "Patty," who is a married professional in her late 30s, attractive and outgoing, with two young children.
Patty is friends with another co-worker, "Jon," also in his late 30s. He is a professional and is single, straight, very quiet and average looking.
Patty and Jon are always together at work, and Jon spends a lot of time at Patty's house with her husband and children.
Jon is a handy guy, and he has done several large renovation projects at Patty's house at no charge, and he often goes grocery shopping with her and her husband and kids.
He regularly baby-sits for Patty's children when she and her husband want a night out, and he has even gone on vacation with Patty's family, including her parents.
When people ask Patty about her relationship with Jon, it's always, "Oh, he's a great guy, and we're the best of friends."
I can't imagine why a happily married woman would invite a man to participate in such intimate aspects of her life, and I'm interested in your opinion.
Am I completely out of touch, or is this relationship very strange?
— Curious in Upstate New York
DEAR CURIOUS: You are completely out of touch.
There is a word for the sort of strange and newfangled relationship you describe.
It's called "friendship."
Some people — whether married or single, straight or gay — are capable of having loving, intimate, fulfilling friendships with others who don't share their gender or demographic.
I hope this puts your mind at ease, so you can stop worrying about this relationship and get back to work.
DEAR AMY: I am 17 years old and have been with my boyfriend for three years. He's three years older then I am. I'm graduating from high school this year, and he's graduating from community college.
We want to stay together, but I don't know if I should follow him to the same university or move on.
What should I do?
DEAR AMY: You should apply to as many and varied colleges and universities as you can. If you limit your choices, you will always regret it. You have been with your boyfriend since age 14. Over the next few years, you will both grow and change until the day comes when you hardly recognize your younger self.
The fact that you're asking this question is an indication that you should move away, if not move on from this relationship.
If it is strong and stable, your relationship will survive a separation, but your future as an individual rests on your receiving the best possible education.
Part of your education consists of the new experiences you'll have and people you'll meet. The same goes for your boyfriend.
DEAR AMY: I am a fitness instructor. I take an exercise class at a local gym early Sunday mornings.
Two women who work out in the back of the class never stop talking throughout the class.
Not only is it rude to the instructor, it is rude to all of us who drag ourselves out of bed for a good workout.
If I were teaching this class, I would find a way to politely tell them to save their conversation for after class, but because it is not my class, I don't feel it is my place.
I have spoken to the instructor, and he has made it clear that he isn't going to say anything to them. Will you please recommend a polite way to tell these women that conversation would be best over coffee — after class — or should I inform management?
I don't want to make a big deal or a big scene, but every week it burns me up. I cannot believe that two grown women can't conduct themselves properly in class.
— Looking for Peace
DEAR LOOKING: If your instructor won't intervene, you should. Say, "Ladies, I can't concentrate on the instructor and your conversation at the same time. Could you hold it down until after class?"
The rest of the class may burst into applause.