Dear Abby: My parents are divorced. My father, who I’m sure loves me in his own way, is super controlling and manipulative. He wasn’t nice to my older siblings, either. He constantly lied and blamed others for his abusive behavior, which made me hate them. He constantly claimed Mom cheated on him and said my siblings were horrible kids.
When I was a child, I believed him. But as I grew older, I started seeing through his lies. He still tries to do it. He also uses his approval as a weapon to make me feel guilty and do what he wants. For example, he’s very religious, and he told me often that if I wasn’t religious, he’d stop loving me just as easily as he loves me.
I just want to live my life, but I know if I do, he’ll cut me off and keep my younger siblings from communicating with me. I love them, and knowing him, he’ll tell them lies about me the way he did with me about my older siblings. He wants me to marry someone from our religion, but I have fallen in love with someone who doesn’t have our same points of view. This person is aware of the situation, but eventually, if things progress, my dad will find out. What should I do?
Lost Girl in Vermont
Dear Girl: If you still live under your father’s roof, you will have to abide by his “house rules” for now. When you become independent — which I strongly urge you to do — you can then consider which religion meets your needs and whom you want to marry. No one should decide these things for you. I assume you already have a strong relationship with your younger siblings. Keep working on it and your father will have a harder time making them think ill of you in the future.
Dear Abby: I have two friends who are sisters. They text me every day throughout the day, sharing every thought and every little thing that happens to them. Also, they constantly invite me over to their homes and try to manipulate me into coming over. One does it by telling me her daughter loves me and wants me to come for dinner; the other uses other tactics of a similar nature — like her dog misses me.
None of the other people in my life do this. We all have lives to live — some busier than others. But with the others, we see each other on birthdays, holidays and other celebrations where we all get together, visit and catch up. This everyday texting is getting on my nerves to the point where some days I don’t respond to either of them.
I have tried subtly and blatantly to tell them to stop, but to no avail. What else do I need to say or do? I have known both of these people for 40 years, and it seems they only “hear” me when I flip out on them — something I’m trying to change about myself.
Hounded in Connecticut
Dear Hounded: It would not be “flipping out” to firmly tell these needy sisters you do not have time to text with them on a daily basis because you are a busy person and being bombarded is distracting. You also do not have to visit anyone because their dog or their child misses you. Set some ground rules and see them when it’s convenient for you — say, once a month (if that). Once the pressure is off, you might enjoy them more.
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.