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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Chafes Under Demands of Her Overprotective Mother

DEAR ABBY: I recently spent a few days with my 64-year-old brother, "Austen." His wife divorced him several years ago, and his latest girlfriend recently broke up with him. I suspect I know why. He has turned into a crashing bore.

My brother used to be interested in the people around him, but now it seems like he doesn't care about anyone but himself. He spends hours on end telling me -- and anyone else who will listen -- about the minutiae of his daily life. He talks about his chores, his plans for future chores and the shows he listens to on the radio.

He never once asked about me or the rest of the family, about our interests or activities unless it was a setup so he could deliver another monologue about something.

Austen wants to start dating again. Would I be doing him a favor by saying something about his self-centeredness? Or would I be hurting his feelings? I miss the way my brother used to be. -- SILENT SISTER IN ARIZONA

DEAR SILENT SISTER: When did this personality change in your brother occur? Was it sudden, or has it been coming on for a long time? He may be depressed over the failure of his marriage and his latest romance. Or there may be an underlying physical cause.

As a loving sister, suggest that your brother have a checkup with his doctor if it has been some time since he's had one. If he wants to know why, it would not be out of line to tell him that when you visited him it seemed that his horizons are no longer as broad as they used to be, and you are worried that he may be depressed. But do not tell him you think he has turned into a self-centered bore because it would be both unkind and unhelpful.