DEAR ABBY: I think a person in my life, "Janine," has kleptomania. I have seen her take things from my house, and I know she steals clothing from stores (as evidenced by the security clips still on them).
A friend witnessed her take boxes of doughnuts from my wedding. When my friend confronted her about it, Janine said that she "deserved" them. She even took my husband's glasses and then, a year later, set them on the kitchen counter -- next to her purse. She has other sporadic behaviors as well.
I'm struggling to be understanding about kleptomania, knowing that it's a mental illness. I don't want to lose my personal belongings or my relationships!
We're no longer comfortable having Janine in our home. I'm reluctant to talk to her about it because she can be combative and defensive. Is it socially acceptable to bring up this behavior with our mutual friends, or should we keep our mouths shut? -- TESTED IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST
DEAR TESTED: If you are sure that Janine has kleptomania, it would be a kindness to caution your mutual friends about it so they can protect their belongings. I would certainly want to know if I were inviting her to my home.
DEAR ABBY: I have been seeing a girl I met in high school and went with for a year. We both went our separate ways for a couple of years because I moved far away with my family. We started college in different states, but got back together over spring break a year ago. This year we got pinned to each other. However, even though we are committed to each other, because we are so far apart, we agreed we would go out on dates and socialize until we are engaged.
After a few months, I found out she had gone home with a co-worker after work when he offered to fix her dinner. Dinner led to wine and more than a few drinks, and then to kissing, fondling, etc. I was extremely hurt when she confessed it to me, and now I'm not sure I can trust her or if there are other things going on. We still plan to get engaged when the time is right, but should I believe she'll be faithful and truthful, or should I find someone else I know I can trust? -- LET DOWN IN ILLINOIS
DEAR LET DOWN: Give her props for being honest with you about the kissing and fondling, but before making up your mind, clarify exactly what the "etc." means. You should also make sure you have a clear definition about what "socializing" means. (There is socializing and then there is socializing.) If your definitions don't line up, then break up.
DEAR ABBY: My mother committed to going to my son's first College National Honor Society induction ceremony. My brother's wife's grandmother passed away, and her wake/funeral is the same day. My mother backed out of her commitment to my son and is now going to the wake/funeral. Should I feel angry that she did this? Which event should she commit to? -- HURT IN THE EAST
DEAR HURT: Calm down. You stated that this will be your son's "first" induction into the National Honor Society, which implies that there may be more. Your mother will have but one opportunity to pay respects to her in-law, which is why she changed her plans. Accept it.
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