Dear Annie: Why do strange men call women “dear” as they get a little older?
I am in my late 60s but don’t consider myself an “old lady.” I dress reasonably — nice jeans/pants and a cute top. My hair is not gray, and I do not look sickly.
Yes, I have a few wrinkles, but I still feel proud of my appearance. I am not these guys’ mother, wife or sweetheart. I am a complete stranger.
I have been called “dear” by cashiers, EMTs, a male dentist and others. Many women do not take this as a compliment. In fact, it is a little demeaning. When I very politely mentioned this to a couple of men, I was met with silence or a look of disbelief. Hopefully, some of these guys will see your column.
Thanks for letting me vent.
— Don’t Call Me “Dear”
Dear Don’t Call Me “Dear”: You assume that “dear” is a term reserved for elderly women, when I always thought it was a term of endearment (pardon the pun) for all ages.
I see the intention being key in these circumstances. Are these speakers being courteous or condescending?
I’m curious to hear from other readers on this subject. When a stranger calls you “dear,” are you complimented or insulted?
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Dear Annie: In these days of the coronavirus, I have been occupied by going through some paperwork that my mother and I have saved. We found this poem by Bruce Wilmer, which was written in 1978. I wanted to share it with your readers because it is just as appropriate now as it was 42 years ago.
Each chapter that is ending
Leads us to a new beginning
The past that we are leaving
Means a future we are winning
Each change that fills the present
Sets the stage for our tomorrow
And how we meet each challenge
Helps determine joy or sorrow
In every new beginning
Spirit plays a vital part
We must approach tomorrow
With a strong and steady heart
So as we turn the corner
Let’s all apprehension shed
And fill our heart with confidence
As we proceed ahead
— Bruce B. Wilmer
Dear Reader: Thank you for sending this poem. It is very uplifting, and, as you say, it is still timely.
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— A native Californian, Annie Lane writes her Dear Annie advice columns from her home outside New York City, where she lives with her husband, two kids and two dogs. Her debut book, Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie, features favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette. Email your Dear Annie questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.