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Dear Abby: I am dreading an upcoming trip that includes a visit to my husband’s mother, “Harriet.” She is prone to “accidents” when I visit, and I always end up getting hurt. Harriet’s “oops” moments usually involve my toes and feet, although the last time I was there she managed to strike my face.

I have taken the precaution of looking up the phone number of the police department in her city, just in case she hits me again. Is there a way to keep her at arm’s length so she can’t get close enough to punch me? In the 20-plus years I have known Harriet, she has always been a bully. She strikes out at me because I stood up to her.

Apprehensive in Louisiana

Dear Apprehensive: Because this has gone on for 20 years, I’m inclined to agree with your suspicion that these “mishaps” haven’t been accidental. An effective way to prevent further injury would be to avoid being in the same town with Harriet. The next time your husband decides to visit her, take a detour and let him deal with his mother. She sounds like a handful.

Dear Abby: I am a 25-year-old virgin and have never been in a relationship. I’d like to wait to have sex until I’m married. Do you think I’ll regret it, since it doesn’t look like I’ll be married before I’m 30?

Do you have any thoughts on when to tell a man I’m dating that I’m still a virgin? Should it be on the second or third date, when we become exclusive, or after that? And if I ever get exclusive, how would I tell that person I’ve been single all of my life without sounding weird?

Still Single in Wisconsin

Dear Single: There’s nothing “weird” about a 30-year-old man or woman being single these days. People are marrying later than in the past, so you shouldn’t feel defensive about it. As to when to reveal you are a virgin, the time to discuss it would be when a relationship progresses to the point where physical intimacy enters the picture.

Dear Abby: My friend of 25 years, “Violet,” moved back to town a few months ago after living far away for 10 years. Whereas we’ve always called and confided in each other often, now that she’s here, I rarely see her, never talk with her and receive polite, but curt refusals to do anything together.

I know the move was stressful for her, and I suspect the problem is more about her than me. But I’m really hurt, and miss her. My last request to get together was met with, “I’m only doing what I feel I can enjoy and manage.” It seems like that doesn’t include our friendship.

Should I simply leave my old friend alone, or is there something you can suggest?

Just Plain Sad

Dear Sad: Write Violet a short and sweet note. Tell her that you care about her, have always treasured her friendship and hope it will continue. Let her know that when she feels like talking, you will be there for her. It’s really all you can do at this point.

After that, the ball is in her court and you should NOT sit by the phone waiting for a call. Go on with your life and your other friendships as before. If she responds, terrific. If not, it will be her loss. Do not make it yours.

Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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