DEAR ABBY: I am part of a couples group that gets together on a regular basis for dinner. The problem is one of the women takes over the conversation, and it becomes her monologue. She just won't stop! She goes into minute detail about every aspect of her life for the last couple of weeks (or months or years!) and the lives of her family, friends, friends of family and friends of friends. These are people we don't know and don't care about!
We have tried to redirect the conversation by asking someone else a specific question. Before they can hardly comment, she jumps right in again. She's a nice person, and a friend. Can you suggest a kind way we can fix this, or do we just have to exclude them from these dinners? -- EARS HURTING IN OHIO
DEAR EARS HURTING: The woman may not realize how her efforts to be entertaining are perceived by the rest of you. Someone -- possibly you -- has to summon up the courage to tell her how off-putting her monologues are. It may not be an easy conversation to have, but it would be better than excluding her with no explanation. If, however, she is unable to change her behavior, the solution would be to stop inviting her.Read more in: Friends & Neighbors | Etiquette & Ethics
DEAR ABBY: I just turned 51 and have been diagnosed with cancer for the second time. Why is it that when I tell someone I have cancer, their first response is to tell me about every person in their life who has had cancer and all the gloomy stories? One family member actually pulled out pictures to show me her SIL's hair growing back. Why do they think this is an appropriate response? It's the last thing I want to hear.
It is difficult to remain positive, and I struggle with letting people in. The more this happens, the more I shut down. Your thoughts? -- TRYING IN SALEM, MASS.
DEAR TRYING: It might help to remind yourself that these individuals may be trying to show you they identify with what you and their relatives have experienced. The family member who showed you that picture may have thought she was being encouraging by showing you a positive outcome -- that after chemo, your hair may grow back.
If someone starts a conversation along these lines, it is perfectly acceptable to tell the person you would rather not discuss the subject right now -- or ever. Please don't allow the fact that some people are inappropriate to isolate you. As I am sure you are aware, there are cancer support groups in which you can receive emotional support. If you need to find one, visit cancer.org.Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics | Health & Safety
DEAR ABBY: I have this friend "Bill," and every day I give him three or four cigarettes. I never ask him for money, but this has been going on for a long time. Bill keeps saying he will buy me a carton, but he's been saying this for five months now. I gave him $50 for his birthday and again at Christmas time. I'm tired of giving. How can I end this vicious cycle? -- MICHAEL IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR MICHAEL: In the words of the late Nancy Reagan, "Just say no!" (You are being given a great opportunity to quit smoking. TAKE IT!)Read more in: Money | Friends & Neighbors | Health & Safety | Holidays & Celebrations
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