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She deserves to know why she’s being excluded from friends’ tri

DEAR AMY: I have three friends whom I have associated with for nearly a decade. We are a close-knit group and routinely hang out, cook meals together and are there for one another during times of happiness and drama.

Recently, I discovered that they have been planning a summer trip and haven’t invited me.

I feel purposely excluded.

They discuss their upcoming trip in veiled terms. I don’t understand this because we’ve been getting along quite well.

I even dropped a hint that I have enough frequent-flier miles for a free ticket, but no invitation was offered. Over the years, we have gone on several vacations together — most of them road trips in my old vehicle, but apparently they don’t want me around now.

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I’d like to confront them about it, but they would just turn the situation around and make me seem petty and immature.

How should I handle this? — Confused in Chicago

DEAR CONFUSED: You should ask your friends about this, but it will help the dynamic if you don’t think of this as a confrontation but as a clearing of the air.

You say, "It seems you’re planning a trip together, and I have to admit I’m disappointed not to be included. What gives?"

They may say, "No one can share a room with you because you snore," or "We were worried you’d want to take a road trip in your jalopy when we want to fly."

Whatever the reason for this slight, it is a slight and you deserve to know what’s going on — and why.

DEAR AMY: I was widowed at 42 when my husband of 20 years passed away unexpectedly. He was a wonderful husband and father.

Now I am sort of involved with a man.

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At the beginning of our involvement, he wanted me to meet his family and friends. I felt very guilty, so most of the time I declined. I felt as if I was cheating on my deceased husband.

Then my friend backed off from the relationship. The only time I see him now is when I drop in at his job. Every now and then I get a hug or a kiss. He tells me he isn’t dating anyone and that he thinks about me every day.

I have told him that I miss him and feel we should start a new relationship. He keeps telling me that we will do this soon.

It has been a year of this, and he hasn’t asked me out!

He has told me I should date other people to see what’s out there.

I’m not interested in dating. It’s a waste of time.

Should my friend get counseling, or is he just not into me anymore, even though he hasn’t dated anyone else? — Wondering Widow

DEAR WONDERING: Sometimes people genuinely need counseling, but sometimes a swift kick in the pants will do the job just as well.

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From what you say, you have been frank about the fact that you want to be in a relationship with this person. He is either dense, disinterested or not sure. Your next move should be to ask him out, as in, "Will you go out to dinner with me Friday?"

If he continues to send you mixed (or no) romantic signals, you should assume that he isn’t interested and mosey along.

It is a frustrating truth that you can’t always decipher what a person is thinking, so you are forced to watch and listen and react to behavior — rather than decode someone’s thoughts and motivations.

Dating is not a waste of time. Spending a year pining for someone who is at best ambivalent about you is.

DEAR AMY: Commenting on "grooms-women," my male friend asked me and another close female friend to stand up for him at his wedding. He also had three male friends, and his wife had five female bridesmaids.

The men all wore black tuxes, and the women were told to wear any dress they liked as long as it was a black skirt and was knee-length or longer.

No one commented about the lack of balance of gender or where we stood. I think what is more important is sharing your day with close friends. — Happy to Serve

DEAR HAPPY: I’m enjoying these stories and tips from "grooms-women" and would like to also hear from "brides-men."

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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