Dear Amy: Maybe I no longer have a conscience, or maybe I am just lucky. Either way, I'd like your opinion.

I met a married man over a year and a half ago, knowing he wasn't going to change his situation. Nor did I expect him to.

Our intimacy has been physical at times.

He often takes care of me, giving me money, food and gifts. He has pledged to do even more as I am truly struggling with a myriad issues.

Now with the pandemic, times have been even harder. I have health issues and live off a part-time job and disability insurance.

I used to feel very uncomfortable accepting these gestures but as he repeatedly said, "I help my friends. And this is one way I can help you."

Of course, this is all done in secret.

He doesn't ask for or expect anything in return. I truly value him. Our friendship has gone through some tests, like his wife catching on. He also got sick with COVID.

We had a long talk the other day and decided that we don't want to end our friendship.

I have found in my 40-plus years that I've never had someone who gives this much to me. I'm a woman who has experienced abuse throughout my life. Should I keep this friendship alive and continue to accept his help?

Amy says: You present this as if you are facing a decision, and yet you state that you don't intend to change your behavior.

I'm not about to tell someone who is as needy as you present yourself to be that they may not accept money and gifts from a generous friend during an extremely challenging time.

However, the fact that this man is married and you are carrying on a secret relationship means that anything he gives to you (time, attention, money, gifts) won't be given to someone else — namely, his wife or other family members, nonsecret friends, or worthy organizations.

You say that neither of you believe this gift-giving has strings attached, yet it does. Without the adultery, this relationship would not exist.

In terms of both your conscience and your luck, I'd say that you have a deficit of both.

Just say no to Zoom

Dear Amy: I have acquaintances from elementary and high school who have organized monthly Zoom meetings. We discuss politics, books, travel and personal news.

While I sometimes enjoy these discussions, I feel pressured to attend.

I am not friends with and don't even remember some of these schoolmates and personally have nothing in common with them.

I'm not antisocial and sometimes enjoy reminiscing, but most of the time I get irritated with everyone talking over each other.

How can I politely decline these invitations? I don't mind attending some, but don't like the pressure to always be there.

After a full day working from home, I'd like to relax.

Amy says: When you receive an "invitation" to a Zoom meeting, it usually comes in the form of a mass e-mail. You either "accept" by joining the Zoom call, or you "decline."

A social Zoom invite sent to dozens of people does not require any advance RSVP.

You could join and "mute" your video and audio and listen in while you did household chores, or you could simply ignore the invitation and live your life, the way you did before Zoom (or the pressure to join a video conference with people you barely know) entered our lives, which I realize was less than a year ago.

What a long strange year it has been.

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