DEAR ABBY: I have a former co-worker whose husband was just released from a psychiatric facility. He had threatened to kill himself and take the entire family with him. I met him before the incident. He did not seem balanced then, and I was uncomfortable being around him.
Since his release, my friend keeps inviting me to their house and wants to come to mine. I keep making excuses for not allowing visits to my house or hers. I still have a bad feeling about being exposed to him and possibly putting myself in danger. I have been in abusive relationships in the past, and one attack was nearly fatal.
I have spoken to her about the dangers of being with a person such as him. But she says she can't leave because they have three children on the spectrum. Am I being silly? -- APPREHENSIVE IN TEXAS
DEAR APPREHENSIVE: No, you are not being silly. Listen to your gut. Nowhere in your letter did you indicate that you and the wife are close friends. If you are uncomfortable being around her husband because of your own history, you do not have to be.
DEAR ABBY: I recently did a DNA test using a kit through a genealogy company that advertises nationally and internationally. I received my results and discovered that one of the features is that the website shows people with whom I share DNA, along with predictions of my relationship to them.
I'm interested in trying to strike up conversations with people to whom I am distantly related (most of my matches are fourth or fifth cousins or further), but I'm at a loss for how to begin. I have tried mentioning common family connections, but haven't gotten anywhere with that approach. Do you have any advice you can share with me about how to start a conversation with someone I'm related to, but don't know? -- CURIOUS IN CANADA
DEAR CURIOUS: What you should do is tell these people that your DNA test results showed that you may be related, and ask if the person is willing to share information. However, if they do not respond, take the hint and don't follow up.
DEAR ABBY: We have a dear friend, a widower, whom we invite to dinner frequently because he is alone. Usually these invitations include other guests.
Our articulate friend has the most annoying habit of blowing his nose at the table into one of my cloth napkins. It is disgusting, not only to me, but to the other guests as well. What can I do to make him stop? I tried placing a small box of tissues next to his dinner plate, but he ignores them and uses his napkin anyway. I don't even like to re-use the napkin after it has been washed, particularly for guests. -- TURNED OFF AT THE TABLE
DEAR TURNED OFF: Because you tried the subtle approach and it didn't work, TELL this impolite widower that you placed the box of tissues near him so he would stop using your napkins as handkerchiefs. Frankly, it is considered rude to blow one's nose at the table at all because it tends to gross out the other diners.
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