DEAR ABBY: My longtime friend of 30 years, "Charlotte," lives across the country. I have just learned that her husband, "Harold," is transgender and is now transitioning to become "Helen."
When they come, they always stay with us for several days because they can't afford a hotel. My husband is now very uncomfortable with them staying here or being seen out in public with them. Is there a way to tell Charlotte to come alone and still save the friendship? Or should I let them come and deal with my husband's feelings, which I think are unjust? -- UNJUST IN THE WEST
DEAR UNJUST: Talk to your husband and explain that he doesn't have to socialize more than he is comfortable with if your friends visit. If he still refuses, why don't you and he visit them this year? You could stay in a hotel while you adjust to the adjustment Harold is making.
I assume that your husband and Harold were friendly before. Perhaps if he and Harold have a chance to talk, your husband can get past his discomfort. It could be a valuable learning experience for him. Your support at this time would be a tremendous gift to this couple.
DEAR ABBY: My 22-year-old sister is unhealthily fixated on a particular cable TV channel. She will only watch this channel and is obsessed with the love stories and relationship movies. This goes far beyond a simple "like" for something, and I'm afraid she's using it as a way to avoid developing real relationships. She has few friends and has never been in a relationship. I have tried to get her to stop watching it, but it never ends well. How can I help her move away from the television set and into the real world? -- FANTASY VS. REALITY IN FLORIDA
DEAR F. VS. R.: Watching romantic movies with guaranteed happy endings (if only life were really like that!) is your sister's "safe" way of vicariously enjoying idealized relationships. Continue encouraging her to take some risk and join the real world by inviting her to join you in social groups. But until she realizes for herself that she needs to do it, it won't happen. Counseling could help her, but she won't accept it until she admits to herself that she needs help to develop the social skills she lacks and is willing to reach out for it.
DEAR ABBY: I have been dating my boyfriend for six months, and in many ways he's a great guy. One thing that irks me, though, is his tardiness.
This man can't show up on time to save his life. I have arrived at his house for a date only to find he has not even arrived at his own home yet. He is usually 30-plus minutes late for our get-togethers.
I have brought this up many times, and at this point I feel like a nag, but it's so disrespectful and rude to treat others this way. I'm annoyed to the point that I may break up with him for this reason only. Is my reaction well-founded? -- EARLY IN OREGON
DEAR EARLY: Your boyfriend is either extremely disorganized or just plain rude. If he hasn't been able to change his pattern in six months, he isn't likely to do it. You can, however, change the way you react to it.
Because you know he runs late, make your plans accordingly so you won't be kept waiting. However, if you can't do that, then rather than let it continue to stress you out, end the romance.
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.)