Dear Annie: I am 40 years old, and I have been eating a plant-based diet since high school. I am in great shape, and my doctor is very pleased with my health status. For over two decades, friends and family have worn me down to where I feel my graciousness is down to kindling when it comes to them challenging what I put on my plate.
Many times people will mention to others at work or at a party that I am vegan (I don’t know why), and the room immediately is focused on me and someone always asks how I get my protein. I usually want to keep the mood light, so I answer them. I am tired of graciously answering them because more often than not, the line of questioning won’t stop. They want me to go into detail about why I eat what I eat (or don’t eat). They tell me about how they couldn’t be healthy or could never give up cheese, and I find myself in the middle of a monologue that feels kind of like I’m being bullied. I don’t want to feel pushed around, but I also want to keep it light. How can I tell them that I don’t want to talk to them about my eating habits without sounding rude? — Struggling Vegan
Dear Struggling Vegan: Two decades of veganism is no small feat, and the fact that your doctor is very pleased with your health status — congratulations! Many people would say that the environment thanks you, and it sounds like your body is thanking you, too.
Talking about someone else’s diet is a mundane form of small talk, but for some reason people keep doing it. Whether it’s nosiness or genuine curiosity is anyone’s guess. And who knows — maybe one of your co-workers is inspired by your eating, considering a vegan diet and eager for more info.
Regardless, you’re not required to explain your plate to anyone. Try gently changing the subject with something like, “This food makes my body feel it’s best. How was your vacation?” or “I get lots of protein from beans — tell me about your new puppy.”
Dear Annie: I’m a 35-year-old straight male. Recently, a woman started working for the company I work for. I was working remotely, and I was training her. I have since gone back to the office to work, and I, of course, met her. She is an absolutely stunning woman! The first day back to work, she asked me if we could have a drink after work. I said yes. One thing led to another, and we spent the night together.
I have since asked her out a couple of times, and she said no each time. The last time I asked her, she giggled and said that it didn’t mean anything to her.
I, however, fell in love with her. I’m (in my opinion) not a very attractive man. I’m absolutely crushed, and what self-esteem I did have is gone! — Crushed in Ohio
Dear Crushed in Ohio: It sounds like this woman was pretty clear about her intentions with you. Though it’s understandable to be upset, you have no choice but to respect what she has plainly told you.
Perhaps there is a good lesson in this: In the future, before spending the night with a woman, have a conversation with her about her intentions for the relationship. This will keep you from bruising your self-esteem by getting involved with a woman who is not truly interested in you for you.
“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology — featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.