Setting boundaries and seeking balance

Dear Annie: I have a younger co-worker who I met at a work social event, and we started talking a bit about novels we are writing as a hobby. A few weeks later, he came by my cubicle to ask me more about writing, so I gave him a few resources to a local writers group. Ever since then, he keeps stopping by, often interrupting my lunchtime.

It’s clear that he never has a specific question for me and will grasp at straws or ask awkward questions just to keep conversation going beyond a normal or considerate time. I don’t mind occasionally chatting, but these constant interruptions when I am busy or trying to take a break are grating on me. I have tried redirecting him or just telling him I am busy, but now he is asking to get together outside of work to talk about our books.

I have no interest in this, and he clearly is not getting the message. I’m finding myself getting anxious over the looming potential of these random, unwanted visits. What should I do? I’m pretty sure he’s harmless, but is it too overboard to go to HR? — Unwanted Visits from Co-Worker

Dear Unwanted: You mentioned that he is young. Maybe this is his first job and he is treating it more like he is still in college. You could try being direct and telling him you don’t want to get together outside of work and that it’s really difficult to continue your work when he keeps interrupting you. Be clear and kind. If you don’t want to do that, you don’t have to, and going to HR does make sense, especially if he is making you anxious. It really depends on what path will make your work environment best for working.

Dear Annie: I’m a single 52-year-old male who needs your advice, please. I come from a close-knit family of four. I am my handicapped nephew’s personal home caregiver, taking care of him 24/7, 365 days a year. I live a normal, happy life with no interference.

Lately, I’ve been stuck in a rut of sorts, and I cannot figure it out. I am a Type 2 Diabetic who maintains and watches my health very well and carefully. I eat right and walk a mile or two every other day. I go to my doctor’s appointments when needed and stay on top of everything else that is important for me and my family.

I don’t know if it’s a midlife crisis kind of thing or something else. I’ve been feeling a little sluggish and down and out, but I don’t feel anything else out of the ordinary. Annie, am I possibly going through something here?

I never married and don’t have children, so I am not sure what this could possibly be. I don’t have any outbursts or PTSD. All I’m feeling is like life is slowing me down and I haven’t a clue as to why. I am writing you to see what condition or conditions that may be affecting me. Thank you in advance! — Oblivious in New Mexico

Dear Oblivious: Seeking the help of a professional doctor is your best bet. It could be physical, in which case a general practitioner could help you. It could be psychological, in which case your general practitioner will guide you to seek help from a therapist. You sound like a wonderful human for taking care of your nephew 365 days a year. Maybe you just need a little vacation.

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“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 dearannie@creators.com.


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