DEAR ABBY: Twenty years ago, I reconnected with a childhood friend. When we were in high school together, she used to love telling stories, not all of them true. Most were harmless and cast her as the center of an interesting adventure.
After graduation, I headed off to college, she started a job and we lost touch for almost 30 years. We now see each other once or twice a year, but text almost daily.
She recently sent me a photo of a now-closed department store and told me she had worked there right after high school, in its pet department. She went on to say she got the job because she had raised tropical fish and was comfortable caring for the animals. The problem with her story is that it was I who had that job. I worked there throughout my freshman year in college.
Thinking maybe she had taken the job after I left, I asked a few questions. But it quickly became obvious that she had snatched my work experience as her own. I couldn't think of a kind way to challenge her, so all I texted was "Interesting." Now I find myself not believing any of her stories. I don't think she has dementia, but I can't understand why anyone would co-opt someone else's history like this. Should I challenge her at this late date or chalk it up to more of her "storytelling"? -- STOLEN LIFE IN INDIANA
DEAR STOLEN: For whatever reason, your old chum seems unable to separate fact from fantasy. She may do this because she has low self-esteem. I see nothing positive to be gained by confronting her, but it may be time to ask yourself how much you want to continue a relationship with a compulsive fabulist. She may do this hoping to impress others, or because she feels her life is so boring that others won't be interested in her if she tells the truth. It's sad, really.
DEAR ABBY: My husband of many years died. We were very close and spent a lot of time together. How do I graciously decline visits from people I care about but am not close to? I know they mean well, and I don't want to cause hurt feelings. I think we may all grieve differently. Even after several months, I'm still not ready to entertain a visitor. I may never be, although I appreciate their thoughts. -- CONTINUING TO GRIEVE
DEAR CONTINUING: When you wrote that everyone grieves differently, you nailed it. It's the truth. For some, the process can take a short time. (Many widows and widowers had time to grieve before they lost their spouses.) For others, it takes longer. Several months is still a relatively short time, but please do not isolate yourself completely. You don't have to entertain, but being able to vent your feelings to caring friends or in a support group can be healthy and healing.
If you don't want anyone in your home, consider meeting a close friend or two out in public for a brief visit. Going out, exercising and getting some sunshine each day is healthy and can help to lessen depression. Your husband is irreplaceable, but isolating yourself won't bring him back. If your inability to move forward persists, I urge you to discuss it with your physician or your religious adviser if you have one.
DEAR ABBY: I have a grandson (25) and granddaughter (22) who are both extremely overweight (300 pounds each). They not only have health issues, but also mental issues. Both work part time at the same company as their mom and dad -- and still live at home. They don't date, don't drive and are very dependent on their parents because their parents encourage it. My granddaughter is being treated with meds; my grandson is not.
I'm very close to him, and he shares a lot with me. He has issues with both of his parents, but more so with his mom. They were raised in a VERY Christian home. There were always weight issues for the entire family because they eat most of their meals out. My daughter-in-law rarely cooks, and the house resembles a "Hoarders" home.
In the past, I tried talking with my son and his wife but they have a convenient excuse for everything I bring up. During my last conversation with my grandson, he was so unhappy he mentioned suicide. PLEASE can you help me? How can I get through to my son and his wife? -- DISTRAUGHT GRANDMA IN TEXAS
DEAR GRANDMA: Do your son and his wife know their son is depressed to the point of talking about suicide? If they are unaware, put them on notice. While you're at it, give him the number of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255.
Because you have already tried talking to his parents and found them unreceptive, would you consider inviting your grandson to live with you for a while? It would be a way of teaching him healthier eating habits, and if he needs medication, you might be able to see that his doctor prescribes it. Living apart from his parents might also be an incentive for him to become more independent in other ways, such as continuing his education if he is able, which would improve his employment prospects.
DEAR ABBY: There is a trend happening these days. Young people live together for several years, get pregnant and go to the justice of the peace to get legally married. Then, a year or more later, they sometimes decide to have a formal wedding ceremony. Friends throw them a shower, and the wedding is often elaborate.
I thought a shower gift or wedding gift was to help the new couple to get their household set up. These couples already have everything in their house. I feel this is a slap in the face of tradition. What are your thoughts? -- OLD-FASHIONED
DEAR OLD-FASHIONED: Yes, it's a break with tradition. These changes have occurred because of changes in social mores, the economy and gender roles. The tradition used to involve a young woman going directly from her parents' house to that of her husband.
More recently, young people have postponed marriage, established themselves in the workplace and achieved economic independence before coupling up. This is a positive step because if the marriage fails or the spouse dies, the widowed spouse isn't left without the tools to support themselves and their family.
While you may think the couple "already has everything they need," take a peek at their bridal registry because it may be an eye-opener. And remember, if you cannot celebrate happily with the couple, no rule of etiquette dictates that you must attend the wedding.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been together for 18 years (married for 14). He has recently been hanging around a female friend who supposedly made a move on him while I was away, but he said he turned her down. He sends her private messages, looks her up on social media and "likes" every photo she puts up. Most of them are sexy. Now he wants to try new things in the bedroom. Should I be concerned? I have an uneasy feeling about this.
When I told him I was going to confront her, he got upset with me. He has deleted messages because he said he didn't want me to get the wrong idea if I read them. I'm not sure how I should be feeling about this whole thing. -- SOMETHING'S UP IN NEW YORK
DEAR SOMETHING'S UP: Right now you should be "feeling" your husband's relationship with this female "friend" is a threat. There's nothing innocent about deleting conversations that he knows would give you the "wrong" idea. His preoccupation with the sexy photos she is posting is hardly reassuring, and that he suddenly wants to try "new things" in the bedroom is a huge red flag in light of what else is going on.
Quietly talk to a lawyer about what your options are as a wife of 14 years in New York, gather as much financial information as you can, and then raise holy heck with your husband. You have a right to be upset.
DEAR ABBY: I have been with this man for more than 20 years and we still haven't tied the knot. When I told him that because I'm not his wife, I'm not willing to do wifely duties anymore, he got really upset. Do you think I should give him an ultimatum? -- ON HOLD IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR ON HOLD: I think you already have!
DEAR ABBY: I am 49. I have never married or had kids, and I am having a hard time finding the right woman for me. I have tried dating sites, dances, etc., and it seems like women are not interested in a gentleman anymore. I am about to give up on women because I don't know what else to do. They like the bad-boy type, and I'm not one of them.
I should mention that 25 years ago I thought I had found the right one, but I caught her cheating on me. Now women reject me. They always have an excuse. They say either, "You are not my type" or, "I just want to be friends." Can you help me? -- LONELY IN ARIZONA
DEAR LONELY: I'll try. When a woman tells you you're not her type or she just wants to be friends, what she's trying to politely convey is that the romantic chemistry is wrong. Having never met you, I can't guess why that might be. Perhaps some of your close friends or family members could tell you if you need an image makeover.
I will, however, offer this: Younger women are usually the ones who are attracted to the "excitement" (stress) that bad boys provide in abundance. Older ones would welcome a man with more traditional values and who treats them well. In other words, you may be fishing in the wrong pond.
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