DEAR ABBY: We get our children and grandchildren together twice a year. Our oldest daughter is divorced and, unfortunately, has a significant other the rest of our family cannot stand. He’s an arrogant, competitive know-it-all.
We have been around him only twice — the last two times the family got together. The second time was a disaster for the rest of us. Should we tell her we don’t want to invite him this year, and how do we say it? Or should we not tell her? — TENTATIVE IN FLORIDA
DEAR TENTATIVE: Talk to your daughter about this. When you do, have handy a list of the ways he offended your family members at the gathering. Her significant other may be so self-centered he doesn’t realize he’s being obnoxious.
Ask her to ask him to dial back his need to compete, impress, cover for his own insecurity — whatever drives him. Then give him one more chance. If that fails, do not invite him again, and tell her why. You can always see your daughter separately, I assume, and so can her siblings.
DEAR ABBY: I had a relationship with a wonderful woman for almost six years. During the course of our relationship, I purchased a rather expensive precious stone — exactly what she wanted — with the intent of giving it to her as a promise ring. (Neither of us are fans of the institution of marriage.) We have since gone our separate ways, but we still communicate.
Because it was purchased for her, I am tempted to give her the stone. At the same time, I have entertained the notion of keeping it and giving it to my future life partner, should I meet someone I care for that deeply. Your guidance would be greatly appreciated. — ROMANCING THE STONE
DEAR ROMANCING: Promise rings symbolize the promise of a proposal of marriage. In the case of your former girlfriend, it didn’t pan out. Because the two of you still communicate, why not mention to her that you have the stone and ask if she would like to have it. If she says no, you can always offer it to someone else, although I can’t promise the lady will be eager to receive a souvenir of a failed relationship.
DEAR ABBY: A friend of mine has a 70-pound dog that behaves badly. When I visit her, it sprints out of the front door, barking, and jumps on my car. It has left 3 1/2-inch-long deep scratches on two of my vehicles. She yells at it, and eventually the dog stops, but not before jumping on me and leaving me muddied and snagged.
This friend is due to have a baby, and I am sure she will be inviting me over to meet the baby soon. How can I avoid further damage to my car and clothing without damaging my friendship? — ASSAULTED IN AUSTIN
DEAR ASSAULTED: The obvious answer is to find the courage to tell your friend you are willing to visit only if she confines her dog so it won’t cause further damage to you and your property. And while you are at it, mention that you are concerned about her baby’s safety. Her dog’s lack of discipline poses a distinct danger to her defenseless and vulnerable little one.
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.
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