DEAR ABBY: I’m an independent, 41-year-old woman who attracts men who are 10 to 13 years younger than I am. I’m not interested in them because I feel they are only after one thing. Another problem is, when I start getting close to a man my own age, he always makes me feel “smothered.” It seems I’m either loved too much or not at all.

Is there a balance, or am I just afraid of getting close? — AVOIDING GETTING HURT IN MILWAUKEE

DEAR AVOIDING: I suspect that it’s the latter. All younger men are not interested in only one thing. Some are, but not all. And men your age who are ready for commitment are not “smothering” you — but they do seem to want something you are unwilling or unable to give.

Unless you can determine what’s holding you back, you will remain single and looking. A psychologist could help you get to the heart of the matter quickly, and that’s what I’m recommending so I won’t hear from you with this same problem when you’re 50.

DEAR ABBY: After nine years of marriage, my husband, “Brett,” and I welcomed our first child 10 months ago. We are happy except for a problem with Brett’s mother, “Carol.”

Carol and I have had a rocky relationship, although in recent years things seem to have gotten better. My complaint (and Brett’s as well) with Carol is that she is intrusive. She always wants to be in the middle of everything and won’t ease up on “mothering” Brett. Furthermore, Carol has decided our child should call her “Grandmommy” or “Mommy Smith.”

I object to that name because I feel “Mommy” is the one name reserved for me. I don’t mind “Grandma,” ”Grandmother” or “Granny.” But Carol won’t back down. We tried coming up with another name, but she has ignored our suggestions.

Am I being unreasonable? Please advise. — THE ONLY MOMMY HERE

DEAR ONLY MOMMY: You and Brett need to calm down. Your child won’t be doing a lot of talking for a while. And when your baby does, he or she isn’t going to be calling Carol by any multisyllabic appellations. Your child will probably call her a name that’s easy to pronounce and entirely original.

DEAR ABBY: I am the youngest of three children. Whenever my mom looks through our family photo albums, she makes comments about “the good old days” while she’s looking at the pictures taken before I was born. It offends me when I hear it, because it feels like she’s saying the years she remembers most fondly are the ones before she had me.

Am I overreacting, or do those comments seem inappropriate to you as well? — OUT OF THE PICTURE, LEWISTON, IDAHO

DEAR OUT OF THE PICTURE: When your mother looks at the photo albums, she may be reminded of a time when she was younger, experienced less stress and had fewer responsibilities. Not knowing her, I can’t tell you if you’re overreacting. But I can suggest that you discuss this with her because your feelings may be a mile off target. Please don’t wait and let this fester.

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

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