Dear Abby: Cousin moves in, invades my space

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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 is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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