I’m a 21-year-old college student. Recently, my cousin (also 21) moved in with my parents and me because her mom is verbally and mentally abusive.

Cousin escaping mom’s abuse needs to find her own space

Dear Abby: I’m a 21-year-old college student. Recently, my cousin (also 21) moved in with my parents and me because her mom is verbally and mentally abusive. Lately, I’m having issues with her being here.

She constantly barges into my room, leaving me no time for myself. Most days she ends up napping in my bed instead of hers, leaving drool on my sheets. When she comes home from school, she drops all of her things in my room. My parents cleared out a room for her, yet most of her stuff is in mine.

She gets ready in my room instead of hers and talks on the phone with her boyfriend loudly while I’m studying or reading. She’s constantly complaining about school, her boyfriend, work, etc. If I get invited somewhere, she tries to tag along.

I don’t know what to do. I need time for myself. I can’t bring these issues up to her because she’s extremely sensitive and will see it as an attack. I don’t know how much longer I can take it because she is stuck here until November. Please help.

California Girl

Dear California Girl: You need to talk to your parents about your cousin’s lack of boundaries. Everyone needs personal time, and yours should be respected. Installing a lock on your bedroom door could guarantee that your cousin stays out in your absence.

However, because you are all adults — even though your cousin appears to be emotionally stuck in adolescence — some rules need to be established. If she would consider it an attack if they come from you, your parents should be the ones who deliver the message.

Dear Abby: I’m 13 and my problem is, when I look in the mirror, all I can see is ugliness. My mother has heard the way I talk about myself, and she doesn’t like it one bit. But I can’t seem to stop because all I hear is, “You’re ugly or you’re fat. Go on a diet!” Is there something wrong with me? Do I need help? If so, what type of help?

West Coast Teen

Dear West Coast Teen: Whether or not you are overweight is something your doctor should determine. As to your being “ugly,” most young teenagers go through a period of transition. Your problem isn’t your looks. It’s the voice in your head. My advice to you would be to concentrate on developing the things you are good at — sports, music, art, drama — and let the rest take care of itself because it will.

Dear Abby: I am 32 years old and divorced my wife two years ago. Although I tried dating for a bit, it was a brave new world of online apps and profiles. It wasn’t for me, and I became discouraged.

A year has gone by and female friends are telling me I need to get back out and date. I find the whole endeavor depressing and prefer to spend my time elsewhere and single. They say my decision to stay single is emotionally driven and I “deserve love.”

My argument against dating is that I wasn’t a good husband and I have no interest in devoting the time or energy to date in the scary and confusing world of the web. Can you settle this dispute so that we can stop the back-and-forth arguments?

Divorced and Dateless

Dear Divorced and Dateless: I agree that opening yourself up to strangers can be scary. If you are not interested in meeting women on the internet, I won’t force you, even though that’s how many — although not all — relationships start these days.

Because that’s not your cup of tea, there are other ways to meet nice women, among them getting out and participating in activities you enjoy or volunteering for a cause you believe in. Of course, that necessitates being open to having a relationship with someone and believing you deserve one. From the tone of your letter, I’m not sure you’re there yet. Not having been a good husband the first time is no excuse if you have learned from your mistakes.

Dear Abby: My boyfriend and I have been dating for two years. He is in grad school. I failed out of community college. My lack of education stresses me out emotionally. I love him very much, and I see a future with him. But the idea of an architect and a community college dropout makes my heart ache. He deserves someone more on his intellectual level. He is originally from another state and this is one of the reasons why I haven’t met his family.

I have thought about trying to get a degree to become a certified nursing assistant, but again there would be a gap in our professional levels. I’m afraid that when he does introduce me to his family they will convince him he’s better off without me. Part of me believes it’s true.

Please give me advice about what to do. I don’t want to lose him, but at the same time, I want him to be happy.


In Wisconsin

Dear Unequal: I can’t help but wonder if you have ever spoken with someone who does career counseling. Some universities and community colleges have extension divisions that offer it. Part of the counseling involves aptitude testing, which could help you determine what you would be good at.

Being a nursing assistant is a respectable career that involves responsibility and people skills. If you feel drawn to it, then that’s what you should pursue, and you should not feel embarrassed or have a need to apologize for it.

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.