Dear Abby: My dad tells lies to puff himself up, bristles when busted

He’s been told privately to be more honest but persists in the tall tales.

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DEAR ABBY: My father, who is in his 60s, has always been a storyteller, but since retirement his tales have gotten longer, and so has his nose.

I suspect he’s concerned about his waning influence in the world and that’s why he puffs himself up. He tells people he has academic degrees he hasn’t earned, takes credit for coining phrases that predated him and claims the hero role in events he couldn’t possibly have participated in.

Most of the time I let it go. But sometimes he starts spouting “facts” that are not only untrue but also potentially harmful, or he takes credit for work done by others who deserve the recognition.

Is there a way to call him on it that lets him save face? Speaking to him privately does nothing. When prodded in a more truthful direction, he becomes immediately hostile. Suggesting other ways for him to contribute to the world (volunteering, etc.) have been non-starters. Before you ask, he has been to the doctor and this behavior isn’t the result of a medical issue. — EMBARRASSED IN TEXAS

DEAR EMBARRASSED: It should be apparent to you by now that you can’t change your father. His bids for respect and attention are sad, because the individuals being lied to usually learn the truth eventually.

Because we can’t change the behavior of others, it’s important to remember that we can change the way we react to them. Because correcting your father in public hasn’t worked, if you catch him telling someone something you know is untrue — and which could be harmful healthwise or financially — contact the person privately and advise him or her to verify it with a doctor, lawyer or trusted financial adviser.

DEAR ABBY: I am divorced. Three years ago, I met a woman and had a brief relationship with her. She was estranged from her husband at the time. I fell deeply in love with her, but she decided to go back to him. It has been several years, and we have been “talking” again. She’s now divorced, and she told me she has feelings for me. She’s dating someone else, but she texts and calls me at least once a day.

I have sent her flowers and gifts for which she has thanked me, but despite all that she won’t “date” me. I’m beside myself because I’m still very much in love with this woman. I know she loves me too, because she has said so. What do I do? I feel like pulling my hair out. Can you offer any advice? — WON’T DATE ME

DEAR WON’T: You feel like pulling your hair out because you have been getting mixed messages from your love object. Women who love men rarely refuse to date them. Women who are honest and ethical do not date one man and text and call ex-boyfriends at the same time. My advice is to do a 180, “detoxify” and find a lady who is emotionally and physically available.

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.

Good advice for everyone — teens to seniors — is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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