DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend, "Scott," and I are writers, although we both have day jobs. During the two years we've been together, we have always supported each other's writing careers.
Things changed after my first novel was published. While initially congratulatory, Scott's behavior was different as the publication date neared. He declined to help my friend throw me a party. When I spotted my book on the shelf of a bookstore for the first time, he chided me to keep my voice down. My novel has now been out for months, but he still hasn't read it. (I gave him one of my free copies.)
When I told Scott how much this hurt me, he agreed to read it and said he was proud of me. But after reading only one chapter, the book was left on the nightstand and he hasn't touched it since.
Scott is a talented writer. He has been published in literary magazines, but hasn't yet published a book. I sympathize with his jealousy and have tried to keep talk of my novel to a minimum. But I'm troubled by Scott's refusal to participate in this exciting period of my life. If he had written a 600-page tome on the digestive habits of the three-toed sloth, and I had to drink a pot of coffee to stay awake through the first chapter, I would still be first in line to buy it. Abby, what gives? -- FRUSTRATED NOVELIST
DEAR FRUSTRATED: I think you have pegged "what gives" accurately. Your boyfriend is suffering the effects of having been bitten by the green-eyed monster. Every reminder of your success gives him a pang because he wasn't published first -- and he may be punishing you for your success by leaving the book unread by the bed. (Anything else going on there?)
I'm sad to say that not every man is man enough to appreciate his woman's success. Some are emasculated by it. And frankly, it will be interesting to see if your relationship survives this.
DEAR ABBY: I have a close friend who is divorced with one son. What is your opinion of a father who insists his 11-year-old son -- and since he was even younger -- respond to his father with, "Yes, sir"? If the son responds with, "Yes, Dad," "Yes," "Yeah, Dad," etc., the father responds with "WHAT did you say?" until the son responds with "Yes, sir."
The father has been deemed a narcissist by three court-appointed psychiatrists. He is a control freak, and I feel this is mental abuse to the son. What are your thoughts? -- APPALLED IN GLENDALE, OHIO
DEAR APPALLED: Please don't be so quick to judge. The "narcissist" could also come from a military background or be from the South, where "Yes, sir," and "Yes, ma'am," are considered common good manners.
DEAR ABBY: I am a program director for young professionals. There are 75 students in my group. Many of them get married in our program and invite me to their weddings.
Should I always go and give the same type of gift, or give a gift based on how well I know the individual?
-- SEEKING "I DO" DIPLOMACY
DEAR SEEKING: An invitation is not an obligation. Buying wedding gifts for many couples every year could take a serious bite out of someone's income. That's why you should attend only the weddings of students to whom you feel a closeness, and base your gift on how much you can afford.
For those couples whose weddings you choose not to attend, send a lovely card with a note of congratulations along with your regrets.
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