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by Abigail Van Buren

Childhood Friend Has Grown Too Adult for Her Roommate

DEAR ABBY: I moved to a small town a few years ago to take a job in a very public position. This is a place where everyone knows everyone else's business, so I try hard to maintain a good reputation.

About a year ago, a childhood friend, "Lindsay," came to visit. She loved the town so much she decided to move here and be my roommate.

At first I was excited at the prospect, but my enthusiasm has waned since finding out that Lindsay is very promiscuous. Since January she has had sex with seven men, sometimes dating more than one at a time.

I worry about her because this behavior is unhealthy. I also worry that associating with her could damage my reputation, not to mention my uneasiness about waking up and finding strange men in my apartment -- some of whom she met only the night before. I think she is compromising both of our safety.

How can I handle this tactfully? Lindsay is an adult; I don't feel I can tell her how to live her personal life. Should I ask her to move out? Aside from this problem, she is an excellent roommate. -- NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL

DEAR NOT THAT KIND: Your letter brings to mind several old sayings. One: People are known by the company they keep. Two: Birds of a feather flock together. Three: People who lie down with dogs usually get up with fleas.

Do not try to tell Lindsay how to live her life. DO remind her that she is now living in a small town where tongues wag. Then explain that although you like her very much, your lifestyles are not compatible and you would like her to move. Your concerns about waking up to find strangers in your apartment are valid, and your choice of roommates is a reflection on you.