Dear Amy: My son "Jeramiah" has been dating "Anabel" for over a year. Anabel has never brought my husband or me a card or gift for our birthdays. She has never offered to help clean up after a meal, even when my son is helping. I had surgery, and she never asked how it went or how I was feeling.

It;s not that we've been cold toward her. We give Anabel gifts, have hosted her family and always try to make her feel welcome.

My biggest concern is her lack of motivation. Anabel's work doesn't offer medical insurance or benefits. I feel like she is pushing Jeramiah to get married because next year she no longer will be covered by her parents' insurance. I think she wants to marry him to be taken care of.

My son asked if we liked Anabel because he was thinking of proposing in the next year. I don't want to do anything to jeopardize my relationship with him, so I didn't answer his question directly. Instead, I asked him lots of questions in hopes that he would consider if she was truly the person he wants to spend the rest of his life with.

What else can I do?

Amy says: I think you responded well to this very loaded question. The only recommendation I would make would be for you and your spouse to ask, earnestly, "Are you asking if we like Anabel because you have concerns or reservations about the relationship?"

Assure him that he needs to make whatever choices are best for him. Marriage is a really high-impact choice to make. You should encourage him to make sure not to respond to any outside pressure.

Call waiting

Dear Amy: I have lunch regularly with a close friend, Celia. As soon as we are seated, she pulls out her cellphone and nestles it next to her fork. Invariably, Celia gets a call, which always turns into a lengthy conversation — while I'm sitting across from her, stirring my soup.

Celia doesn't see that I'm annoyed. She's not paying attention to me at all.

I'm pretty sure that if Celia didn't answer, the caller will leave a message, and she could return the call as soon as lunch is over. Even if there's no message, she knows who called and can call them back.

My personality makes it extremely difficult for me to initiate a confrontation. So I will continue to go to lunch with her and wait for her to return to our conversation when she gets a phone call.

But I'm writing to you in an attempt to let people who are this attached to their phones to give the rest of us a little more consideration when we are together for a meal and conversation.

Amy says: Several years ago, I was visiting with a good friend. I was idly leafing through a J Crew catalog while she was talking to me. She stopped and said, "Please don't do that!"

I said, "Oh, don't worry — I'm listening to you, I'm just glancing at this." She responded with a version of: "It's rude! I want you to pay attention to me."

Gulp. Right. Lesson learned — and we're still very close.

You don't have to be as direct as my friend was. But I think it would be a service to your friendship if you said, "I have to be honest with you — I wish you wouldn't take calls while we're at lunch together."

Of course, she'll justify her behavior (just like I did). You can add, "It makes me feel like an afterthought."

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