DEAR ABBY: I am a lesbian. My girlfriend and I have been dating for six months. We have an awesome relationship and are very happy and open with each other.
I know she has dated guys in the past -- so have I -- so I'm not worried about that nonsense at all. But I recently found something of hers that surprised me. It was a container of pregnancy tests, and one was missing with a Plan B pill alongside of it. I am not mad about it because I know stuff happens, but I would rather that it not happen in our apartment.
I'm tempted to bring it up, but I would honestly rather not discuss it at all. I just don't want anything happening in the apartment. Would it be weird if I just threw the stuff out without telling her, or should I say something?
What if she wants to keep it? I don't think that would be the case, but it would start a fight because, as a female couple, we obviously don't need a pregnancy test. I know I am overthinking this, and I could use some advice on how to handle this uncomfortable situation. -- SURPRISED ABOUT IT
DEAR SURPRISED: I'm glad you asked. Do NOT "quietly" throw out those pregnancy tests or the medication. I don't know what kind of arrangement you have with your live-in girlfriend, but if fidelity was part of the agreement, you should absolutely talk with her about what you found. It does not have to degenerate into a fight, but it's important that you know why she feels the need to be in an intimate relationship, regardless of gender, with someone else.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have a wonderful life and much to be thankful for, but we have no children and are usually alone on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Everyone makes such a fuss about sharing these holidays with loved ones, but I become depressed during this season.
I do volunteer work on these holidays, but still feel sad and like everyone else in the country is having a better time than I am. Any suggestions? -- NOT SO JOLLY IN ARIZONA
DEAR NOT SO JOLLY: You must be a new reader of my column or you would know that every year around holiday time I receive letters from people like you, expressing that rather than feeling joyful and elated, they feel depressed and deprived. Some of it may be the result of the incessant marketing of these holidays, which gives the impression that "everyone" is having a grand old time sipping cider, stuffing themselves with turkey and caroling under the windows of their neighbors.
An antidote for your holiday blues might be to do more than volunteer. Why don't you and your husband plan to do something special to treat yourselves, rather than stay home feeling like everyone else is enjoying themselves? Choose a different destination each year to visit and learn about.
Or invite some friends or acquaintances to join you at home. There's a saying that misery loves company, and in your case, company might be the solution to the problem.
DEAR ABBY: My 8-year-old daughter keeps asking me for a smartphone. I'm at a loss about who she would call besides me and her dad. She points out these different kids her age who have phones. They are the same kids I view as ones who will have no curfew, boyfriends at 12 and parents who aren't as involved as we are. At what age do you feel kids should have smartphones? -- INVOLVED PARENT
DEAR INVOLVED PARENT: I don't think there is a magic number, but your daughter is definitely too young to have one. Smartphones can be dangerous when they are used irresponsibly. A flip phone, perhaps, for her to contact you in case of emergencies, might be appropriate.
Because her friends have smartphones is not a valid reason for her to have one. Before that happens, you must be confident that it will be used responsibly, and that you and her father will be able to review its history.
DEAR ABBY: Could you help all of us guys named Shelby spread the word that Shelby is not just for the female gender? Many boys and men like me have the handle and are proud of it. -- SHELBY FROM TEXAS
DEAR SHELBY: So do some automobiles! I'm glad to relay your message. Today many women have names that were once associated only with the masculine gender -- Cameron, Bailey, Logan, Morgan, to name a few -- and turnabout is fair play. I'm reminded of the song "A Boy Named Sue."
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 17-year-old girl and a junior in high school. I have a crush on a guy who's 14 and a freshman. I know age gaps don't matter as much later on, but the difference between 17 and 14 can be drastic. "Jake" is really sweet, and he's as interested in me as I am in him (unlike the boys in my grade).
I'm friends with Jake's sister "Julie," who's a year older than me and a senior. Julie has made it clear she doesn't like the idea of a romantic relationship between Jake and me because Jake is only 14.
What can I do? Should I ignore this crush? I have judged people who have dated despite age gaps. (For example, a senior boy dating a sophomore girl.) But now I understand it. If the girl is older, does that complicate things?
I don't want to be seen as creepy or gross, but, to be honest, I'm not that experienced romantically or socially myself. (I have never even been to a real party.) Must I forget my feelings and move on, or do I talk to Julie and try to pursue this? -- TEEN CRUSH
DEAR TEEN CRUSH: Julie has already given you her answer. As you have pointed out, there is a bias against dating someone so much younger, and it could cause you problems not only with your peers, but also with the law if your relationship were to become sexual when you turn 18. That's why I'm suggesting you turn your romantic interests elsewhere. When you're BOTH adults, if you're still interested, you can pursue a romantic relationship then.
DEAR ABBY: My fiance and I are being married in a few days. We are expecting our first child a few days after that. The problem is my mother. We decided on a small ceremony, but my mother is opposed to the marriage because she doesn't like the idea of me marrying -- not just my fiance, but anyone. She has always told me a man will leave me destitute, pregnant with too many kids, and I won't be able to take care of myself. She has repeated it since I was about 10.
Because she has threatened to object at the ceremony, we decided not to invite her. We have invited his parents and my father and stepmother. Mom has said she will not allow my child to see her grandfather because "he is a bad person." She may have good intentions, but dictating who can be around my child is not her choice, considering she has had little to no contact with him in 25 years.
I wish she could be at our wedding, but she has now distanced herself from me and my fiance. Should I let her cool off and hope she comes around, or accept that this is the path she has chosen? Please advise, Abby. -- PROBLEM MOTHER IN KENTUCKY
DEAR PROBLEM MOTHER: Your mother may be anti-marriage because hers failed spectacularly. She appears to be a troubled woman. By all means, let her cool off, but do not allow her to dictate your life. If she does, her anger and bitterness could negatively affect your marriage.
DEAR ABBY: The winter months are hard for me. They remind me that another year has gone by without my father and my younger sister.
Dad had been a smoker since his teens and died from pancreatic cancer at 39. I was 13, and my siblings were younger. In those days, we didn't know that smoking was a risk factor for pancreatic cancer.
My sister smoked from the time she was 13. She died from lung cancer at 44, leaving behind two young sons.
Neither my father nor my sister got to experience the wonderful family milestones and celebrations we have had. Their grandchildren will never know them. Each year during the holidays, I feel a sadness in my heart.
I urge every smoker to make a vow to quit and carry it through, not only for their own sake but also their family's. Stay determined to quit so you won't cause your loved ones sadness and won't miss out on their futures. With all my heart, I wish smokers the best of luck in quitting. -- MISSING DAD AND SIS IN SACRAMENTO
DEAR MISSING: I'm glad you wrote because the American Cancer Society's annual Great American Smokeout will be held on Nov. 16. It's a day when millions of smokers put down their cigarettes -- just for one day -- with the conviction that if they can go 24 hours without one, then they can do it for 48 hours, 72 hours, and stop smoking for good. The idea grew out of a 1970 event in Randolph, Massachusetts, and became a national event in 1977.
Readers, I'm not going to harangue you with death threats. We are all aware of the grim statistics associated with cancer-related deaths caused by tobacco. If you're interested in quitting, this is a perfect opportunity. Call (800) 227-2345 to be connected with counseling services in your community, provided with self-help materials offering information and strategies on quitting for good, and to receive information about medications available to help you quit. This service is free and provided 24/7. Or go online to cancer.org.
DEAR ABBY: I need your help. Over the past few weeks, I have been vacationing at my mother-in-law's home. The other day I was browsing on her computer and accidentally opened her browsing history. It turns out that she regularly looks at and responds to Craigslist personals.
I was shocked when I read some of the perverted requests she has responded to. The language she used would make a sailor blush. Keep in mind, my mother-in-law is a married woman.
I don't know how to react. Should I tell my wife? Keep it to myself? Make a fake Craigslist post and catch her in the act? -- KINKS IN THE FAMILY
DEAR KINKS: If you disclose this to your wife, it could damage her relationship with her mother. If she tells her mother what you found, it will create a breach in the family. If you trap the woman by creating a fake Craigslist post and she realizes she has been made a fool of, it will not -- to put it mildly -- endear you to her. Let it lie.
DEAR ABBY: Help! I'm a 67-year-old man being relentlessly chased by a 68-year-old woman. I have told her I want to date other women and will be moving out of the country at the end of the year. Despite this, she is constantly trying to maneuver me into an exclusive relationship, probably ending in living together. I don't want to hurt her, but I'm at a loss as to how to get her to back off. -- HAPPILY UNCOMMITTED
DEAR UNCOMMITTED: Here's how. Tell her you can't handle the pressure she's putting on you and end the relationship NOW.
DEAR ABBY: I am in a predicament. My therapist is great, but sometimes I think she shares too much. Last time I went, she was running late. When I finally got into her office, she told me the previous patient was nonverbal and had painted her nails during the session. Later in the session, she confided that years ago she had been date raped.
Abby, I am in counseling because my father raped me when I was 15 (I am now 24). Her sharing has me worried because I don't want her telling others what I say or do during counseling. Further, her story of the date rape scared me. She described a situation that is not uncommon for me to be in, and it caused something almost like a flashback in me. I think what she did was insensitive, to say the least.
I have nobody else to ask, so what should I do? I'm getting counseling for free now due to my income, and it took months to get set up with a counselor. Should I report her or accept that this was a mistake and say nothing? If I need to report her, how would I go about doing that? -- CONFLICTED ABOUT IT
DEAR CONFLICTED: You should change therapists because it appears this one has more problems than you do. As to what agency you should report her breach of professional ethics to, contact the state organization that has licensed her to practice.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069