How can I tell if my neighbor is coming on to me?

DEAR ABBY: I am a gay man who lost my domestic partner five years ago. My neighbor is a single father of a 12-year-old son. When I first met him, he told me he once had a domestic partner. He talks openly about his personal life (he was married to a woman before living with his son’s mother). 

He does small jobs at my house, and I have taken him and his son out to dinner. He writes messages to me about three times a week, and he told me he plans to have me to dinner soon. He treats me kindly. I think he may be interested in me, but I don’t want to be presumptuous. 

If I’m misinterpreting the situation, I would be satisfied with being friends and good neighbors. But I would like to find out if he wants to pursue a relationship. What would you recommend I do? — INTERESTED IN TEXAS

DEAR INTERESTED: I recommend you stand pat. Be his friend and a good neighbor until he makes a move that clearly indicates he would like more. That way you won’t burn any bridges.

DEAR ABBY: I have been friends for 20 years with a kind and caring woman, “Brenda.” We always shared life moments, until recently. I thought of her children as my own. Her son got married (not in a formal or traditional wedding) and didn’t want anyone there except his parents, siblings and a few friends. I was hurt that I wasn’t included, since Brenda always integrated herself into my life even when I may not have wanted her to. 

That son and his wife are now having a baby. At first, Brenda told us to “save the date” for a couple’s shower. Then the wife’s parents chose a venue that holds a limited number of guests, so none of Brenda’s friends were invited. (They both come from big families and the expectant parents invited a lot of their friends.) 

Brenda said she feels terrible and will have something else for us to celebrate another time. Or, if people can’t come, she will then go to the “B list.” I’m trying to be understanding, but I’m so hurt and insulted I no longer want to be a part of this. I told her how I felt, and we dropped it. 

I don’t want to end a friendship over it, but I am harboring ill feelings. I couldn’t even fathom celebrating something without her, and I am deeply disappointed she isn’t fighting for me. Brenda doesn’t want to make waves with the “new” in-laws and her kids. I don’t want to give a gift or share in future events as a “B lister.” How do I get over this slight and not hold it against her or her children? — SORE IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR SORE: Here’s how: Understand the pecking order in that family. The mother-to-be and her parents are in control, not Brenda, who I’m sure is embarrassed as heck by what’s happening. Her dear friends were excluded from the wedding, and now this. Forgive Brenda, refuse any invitation in which you are expected to give gifts to her daughter-in-law, go on with your life and stop making this all about you.

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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