Actual letters to Dear Abby, randomly selected, with my response:
DEAR ABBY: My closest friend, "Tina," who is married, has been having an affair for a few months. She has now decided she’s no longer in love with her husband, "Hal," and wants a divorce. Tina and Hal have been in my life for several years and are like family to me.
Hal recently reached out to me for an explanation about Tina’s 180-degree change in attitude, feelings and behavior. He is crushed and confused about why she wants a divorce. He told me he had asked her if she had been cheating. Of course, Tina lied to him.
I don’t want to be the one to tell Hal what she’s doing, but I feel I owe it to him. I’m disgusted with Tina, and it’s killing me to see him in so much pain. What do you suggest? Am I really a friend if I don’t tell, or should I continue keeping her dirty little secret? — IN THE MIDDLE IN CORPUS CHRISTI
DEAR IN THE MIDDLE: No, don’t tell Hal. He’ll find out soon enough, especially if shes sues for divorce. The truth will always out, as Shakespeare said.
I would, however, start to distance myself from Tina, hard as it may be. She’s made herself an ugly bed, and is essentially asking her friends to respect her decision to have an affair. If you can, fine, but most people don’t approve of lies and deception. Take your "disgust" with Tina, and move away from her.
DEAR ABBY: My children have been cared for by a wonderful baby sitter I’ll call "Sally" for two years. Mine are the only children Sally watches, and she has three of her own. Our families have a friendly relationship.
Once in a while I will stop at the grocery store on my way home, or take off from work early for a dental appointment or some personal time. It is rare, but it does happen. I always tell Sally because I want to be honest. When I do, sometimes she acts like I should have picked them up right away. I still get there on time — sometimes early — and I pay her well.
Is there an unwritten rule that sitters are only for when you are at work? I don’t think I have abused her services, but sometimes I feel as though she thinks so. — FEELING GUILTY IN ILLINOIS
DEAR FEELING GUILTY: You may be reading her wrong. Or she may have a legitimate gripe. Perhaps a frank and honest discussion with her is in order. There is no "unwritten rule" about babysitting; reasonable people are allowed to differ. Perhaps she thinks her services are being provided for only the time when you work. Just talk to her and see if you can both get on the same page.
DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend, "Brady," and I do not share the same passions. I’m a gay rights activist and love animals. Brady is tolerant of gays, but does not love animals. (I have three cats.) Also, he is not altruistic.
"Something" is not right. I need to decide if I should go it alone because I have no intention of giving up my passions in life. What do you think? — ON DIFFERENT PATHS IN TEXAS
DEAR ON DIFFERENT PATHS: No two people are exactly the same, and compatability does not mean they have to see eye-to-eye on all matters. You need to decide how "passionate" you are about these issues (gay rights, animals) and more importantly, how passionate your ideal boyfriend should be. (Perhaps he is passionate about something that you are not?). If not being a gay rights activist, for example, is a "deal breaker" for you, then it’s time to move on. But remember, a great part of any relastionship is being tolerant of the differences you have, and respecting those differences.