DEAR ABBY: Six months ago, I got back in touch with a childhood friend who married at 17 and moved away. She has lots of family drama, much of it caused by her alcoholism (which she says is a result of PTSD).
Recently, she told me I have hurt her and I'm a terrible friend because since we've reconnected, I have never once asked her about her past and the ordeals she's been through. Abby, she talks about herself constantly. I never thought it was necessary to ask her about the past because she never shuts up about it. I have tried to be a good listener, but I don't think she has made the best life choices, and I don't want to confront her with my opinions on how she has messed up her life.
I don't question people about their past, truthfully. I feel if they want to discuss it, they'll bring it up themselves. Was I wrong for not asking her to dredge it up? Now she won't even talk to me. -- FRIENDLESS IN FLORIDA
DEAR FRIENDLESS: Be grateful the woman no longer speaks to you. You have done nothing wrong. The person you describe needs to feel wronged and be the focus of your conversations, which to me seems self-centered. Consider yourself fortunate that this troubled individual has moved on, and concentrate on relationships that are healthy -- and mutual.
DEAR ABBY: My family is very close, and we see each other often. Lately I have been avoiding most of our family gatherings because of my brother-in-law "Jared."
At the most recent family occasion, he was staring, winking and flashing peace signs at me. This is not friendly banter; it is very creepy. My sister isn't aware of it, and I'm sure she wouldn't approve.
I have been married four times, and I'm currently single. If his behavior continues, which I'm sure it will since I am a very desirable woman, I will have to skip family events entirely. Any thoughts? -- HARD TO RESIST OUT WEST
DEAR HARD TO RESIST: Your letter is unique. I rarely hear from people with as "healthy" an ego as yours. Because you feel your brother-in-law is out of line, try this: Tell him to cut it out the next time he does it because it is making you uncomfortable. And if that doesn't do the trick, tell his wife.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a male who recently started dating a great guy, "Jake." I deal with the public in my job every day, and I'm often asked things like, "Do you have a girlfriend?" and, "When will you find a wife?" Even my co-workers are inquiring when I'll find a "lucky girl." I'm happy in my relationship and would like to express that. Is there a tactful, succinct, non-awkward way to let people know I'm in a happy relationship with another male? -- IN A HAPPY PLACE IN GEORGIA
DEAR HAPPY: Absolutely! When asked if you have a girlfriend, say, "No, I have a boyfriend." And when your co-workers ask when you are going to find a wife or a "lucky girl," be upfront and tell them you are dating a great guy named Jake. That should answer the questions and put the subject to rest.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)