06/22/2007DEAR ABBY: One of my female co-workers regularly scrutinizes the wardrobe and accessories of all the other co-workers, male and female. Her scrutiny is so detailed that she notices the littlest thing -- even a change in nail polish color, or the buttons on a jacket.
Every time she sees some new clothing or jewelry, she moves in for a closer look and often touches the item. Her comments are not casual, but very detailed. I feel like I am in the army and going through uniform inspection and that she is constantly judging everyone.
Another co-worker has commented to me about this in a joking way, but I suspect she resents it, too. I want to say something to the offending co-worker so that she will stop examining me from head to toe every day. On the other hand, it's a small office and I want to maintain harmony. Any ideas? -- UNDER A MICROSCOPE IN FLORIDA
DEAR UNDER A MICROSCOPE: It would not be unharmonious to tell this co-worker that her comments and touching are making you uncomfortable, and to please stop. Once you have done that, you have put her on notice. If she continues after that, then it's time to say something to your boss -- because this person's behavior could be considered a form of harassment.
DEAR ABBY: I have been dating a man for about six months. We are both in our 40s and have grown children. Things were becoming serious until about a month ago, when he said he had some personal problems "that I wouldn't understand."
Well, yesterday he finally told me what the problem is. Apparently he likes to dress and act like a woman sometimes. He says he does it to "release tension." Some of what he told me seems petty -- he likes women's hygiene products. But I don't understand why he would find release by dressing as a woman because we have an active sex life.
He said he has been to counseling many times, and it hasn't helped. I really like him, but I'm not sure if I can handle the whole dressing-like-a-woman thing. What would you do if you were in my situation? -- TOTALLY CONFUSED IN IDAHO
DEAR TOTALLY CONFUSED: If I really cared about him, I think I'd ask to spend some time with his "other self." Then I'd make up my mind about whether or not I could accept the situation. Many cross-dressers are happily married and have perfectly normal marriages except for this one "quirk." (And let's face it -- is anyone completely quirk-free?)
DEAR ABBY: I am driven nuts by know-it-alls who like to correct others. Most often, the detail is small and superfluous. Why do people do this? Is it a matter of control?
I am close to a couple of people who correct me in public on a regular basis. Hey, I'm flawed and I know it -- obviously they are perfect. How does one deal with those who constantly correct others? -- CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE
DEAR CAN'T TAKE IT: People who feel compelled to correct others are practicing a form of one-upmanship. It can also be a reflection of their own social insecurity. The way to deal with it is to first point out to them that correcting others in public is rude, and if they continue, to avoid them whenever possible.
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