DEAR ABBY: A close friend and I usually take a girls' trip once a year -- a long weekend at the same place. We drive there because it's close to where we live. She has asked me again this year about going.
I don't feel like doing it for many reasons. She spends a lot of time on her phone, texting or playing on apps, when we should be socializing. I like to relax and have a couple of drinks when I'm on vacation; she doesn't drink. Our taste in restaurants and food is completely different, plus she's on a tight budget and can't afford to spend like I can. (I usually cover the cost of our stay in a condo.) She's also negative and enjoys feeling sorry for herself, while I prefer looking on the bright side of things.
I don't mind spending an evening with her, but that's it. She hates her job, complains about financial problems and taking care of her parents, and her marriage isn't the best -- but she does have a big heart. I would rather save my vacation days from work and stay home with my husband and animals.
I take multiple vacations year round; she does not. I almost feel obligated to go. I'm afraid I'll hurt her feelings if I tell her I don't want to do it anymore. I can't use work, money or the place being occupied as an excuse. What should I do? -- STAYCATION INSTEAD
DEAR STAYCATION: Frankly, if you can tolerate this woman's company for one evening only, your friendship may have gone from hot to temperate. Traditions don't necessarily last forever, and it may be time to make a change.
Tell her that this year you would love to spend an evening with her, but you prefer to stay quietly at home with your husband rather than take the long weekend trip. Be as diplomatic as possible and tell her you know she's carrying a lot on her shoulders, but the only person who can "fix" the things that stress her out or make her unhappy is her -- by talking with someone who is better qualified than you are to listen and advise her.
DEAR ABBY: This is hard to write. My mother-in-law constantly asks me how much I weigh, expecting me to give her an honest answer. I have been saying that my medical information is private, but she continues to ask, even going so far as to ask other people if they know my weight. She wheedles me for confidential health data every single time I see her.
Is she trying to steal my medical ID? Telling her it's private won't keep her from asking again. It really makes me not want to visit her anymore. Any ideas? -- PRIVATE INFO IN THE SOUTH
DEAR PRIVATE: Neither of us knows the intent behind your mother-in-law's persistence. She may think you are too thin or overweight and be trying to open an unwelcome conversation on the subject.
You asked me for ideas, and I do have several:
1. Turn the tables and ask HER, "Why do you keep asking me that? It's making me uncomfortable."
2. Say, "My weight is my business, not yours."
3. Tell her the next time she mentions your weight will be the last time she sees you.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)