DEAR ABBY: My friend "Nancy" and I have known each other for three years. She's a nice person and I cherish her friendship. The problem is she always invites herself to go with me to family functions.
When I tell her I'm going home for the weekend to visit my parents, she says, "I'll ride along with you." She comes home with me for Christmas, Thanksgiving and family birthdays. I am afraid to mention this constant "tagging along" to Nancy because she grew up in several foster homes and never had a real family. I would never want Nancy to feel I'm turning my back on her like she says everyone else has.
Abby, am I being selfish? How can I spend some alone time with my family without hurting Nancy's feelings? -- STUCK IN NORTH CAROLINA
DEAR STUCK: Perhaps the reason "everyone else" has "turned their back" on Nancy is because they didn't have the courage to explain to her that they felt encroached upon. She must be told. Doing so is not selfish; it will prevent your resentment from building to the point where Nancy is rejected once again. Explain as kindly as possible that although she's welcome to accompany you on some occasions, you need time alone with your family. It's the truth -- and saying so shouldn't make you feel guilty because you're not excommunicating her; you're creating healthy boundaries.