Dear Abby: Sorry, we can’t hang out with you, because we don’t want to

Neighbors keep extending invitations, even though it’s clear the two couples have nothing to talk about.

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DEAR ABBY: A couple moved next door several years ago. My wife and I were welcoming and did some socializing with them (dinners, festivals, parties). We soon realized that we have little in common with them. When we’re together, the conversation is so difficult it is exhausting. They are nice people, but we no longer enjoy doing things with them.

The problem is, how do we make this clear to them? We have declined numerous invitations and offers to spend time together, but they are persistent. They have many other friends and contacts, so loneliness isn’t the issue. How can we get the message across without being rude? We are running out of excuses. — OUT OF EXCUSES IN THE SOUTH

DEAR OUT OF EXCUSES: There is no polite way to tell people you don’t enjoy being with them. However, folks today have compelling obligations, full schedules; they develop new interests and juggle busy social lives. This is a fact of life. Because these neighbors have many other friends and contacts, they will find a way to fill their time if you continue being “busy.”

DEAR ABBY: I am 20 years old and dating a Marine. I work at a hospital, and I also have a part-time job. I recently rented an apartment near where my boyfriend is staying, and I’m busting my butt to be independent. My boyfriend struggles because he’s got a lot going on as well and doesn’t earn that much money. I’m the breadwinner right now and, honestly, I’m just tired. I work way too hard, and I’m really stressed. Life is hard, and I genuinely feel like I can’t catch a break. Any advice? — OVERWHELMED IN VIRGINIA

DEAR OVERWHELMED: This is the life you have chosen, and you are doing all you can. Carrying so much stress is bad for your emotional and physical health. Your boyfriend may not be making much money now, but he isn’t broke. It may be time to step back and review your finances and his, and whether you should continue to be the breadwinner. Things may get easier as your boyfriend gains rank and more seniority in the military.

DEAR ABBY: Whenever I see strangers, especially my age — in their 30s — toss gum wrappers and food and beverage containers on the ground, I have conflicted feelings. I want to approach them and say something like, “Did you just throw that on the ground? Is that how you were raised — to expect others to pick up after you?” Then I imagine the dirty looks I would get, or worse, and it escalating into an argument.

I care about the environment and the community I live in. It saddens me that people don’t have similar respect or concern about the future of the environment. Do you have any ideas on how to succinctly tell people to stop littering without it appearing as if I am telling them off? — CARING CITIZEN IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR CARING CITIZEN: That some individuals have so little respect for the environment and their neighbors is disappointing. If you carry out your fantasy, it will almost certainly spark an angry and defensive reaction. If it would give you some sense of satisfaction, consider picking up the litter yourself.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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