Dear Abby: I have a friend of 20-plus years I’ll call “Gladys.” We enjoy walking our dogs and talking about relationship issues. Sometimes it’s just me counseling her. She often regales me about these wonderful times she has — get-togethers with her other friends that I’m not invited to. She loves going into detail about how wonderful her excursions are, etc. I have always made excuses to myself about it — I’m more boring and straight-laced than her other friends, not as rich, not as smart. (It’s true. I don’t party much. I’m a total lightweight.)
Also, I’m one of her only friends who hasn’t met her boyfriend of more than a year, and believe me, she has confided in me about their relationship the whole time. I have been concocting in my mind a way to address this with her without driving a wedge. (She can be very sensitive and defensive.) My boyfriend doesn’t like how she treats me, but she’s never been anything but kind and sweet with me, generally. She just doesn’t include me in her social circle. What is your take on this?
Strange Friendship in California
Dear Strange Friendship: My “take” is that over the last 20 years you have fulfilled one particular function in Gladys’ life, being her therapist and dog-walking chum. Period.
Your boyfriend has a point. She appears to be centered on herself and insensitive about how her confidences have made you feel. In my opinion, what she has been doing isn’t kind and sweet; it is clueless. Ask Gladys (and her boyfriend) to go out for a social activity. It’s worth a try. If you really want to know why you have never been included in her social circle, I don’t think it would be rude to ask why — IF you are prepared for the answer. It’s a fair question.
Dear Abby: My grandson-in-law seems to have no motivation to take advantage of his VA benefits after just having completed his military service and not having been trained to do anything in civilian life. He’s married and has a toddler. They have moved in with his parents, who babysit the child while his wife works. He wastes every day and doesn’t seem to want to find a job or get training (paid for by the VA).
My granddaughter is frustrated and at her wits’ end. We have offered suggestions and sent emails for virtual job fairs for veterans, but he doesn’t seem interested enough to apply for anything or follow up on the one or two interviews he has had. She has even filled out job applications for him. What can we do to encourage her or him? Frankly, I feel like she would be much better off leaving him. Any suggestions?
Granddad-in-law in Florida
Dear Granddad: Your granddaughter’s husband appears to need more help than being steered toward job fairs. He may need to be medically and mentally evaluated. Could he suffer from PTSD, drug addiction or an undiagnosed mental illness? And what do his parents have to say about this? Once your granddaughter knows what she is dealing with, she will have a better idea of what to do about it. Right now the most helpful thing you could do is discuss with her what I have written and provide emotional support until she has some answers.
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.