Dear Abby: Women learn to avoid a relative’s handsy husband

Family is on guard after the man’s inappropriate touching of his daughter-in-law and her mom.

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DEAR ABBY: My daughter “Lia” and her husband, “Jerry,” visited his mother and stepdad, “Gil,” a few months ago. Gil gave Lia an inappropriate hug, with his hand sliding to her buttocks. Lia said Gil had done this before and it made her uncomfortable. She told Jerry, and he began watching his stepdad closely when they visited.

Recently, my family and I visited Jerry’s parents. Gil gave me a hug around my back, and then slid his hand down my back and grabbed MY buttock with a quick squeeze! His wife was standing in front of us when he did it. I looked at her in shock. She looked down at the floor and then at me, expressionless. After I told my daughter what he had done, she told me he had done it to her as well.

My son-in-law wants to tell his mother he doesn’t feel comfortable leaving his young daughters at their house. I know Lia and I should have said something when it happened, but we were caught off guard and didn’t call him on it. How do you think this should be handled? — CAUGHT OFF GUARD

DEAR CAUGHT OFF GUARD: Your daughter was right to tell her husband what his stepdad has been doing, and you should tell him, too, if you haven’t already done it. Gil’s behavior is extremely inappropriate. It’s interesting that he doesn’t discriminate — any buttock within reach appears to be fair game.

You, your daughter and Jerry need to explain that fact to Jerry’s mother and her husband. From now on, it makes sense that Jerry’s mother should visit her little granddaughters at Lia and Jerry’s without her spouse.

DEAR ABBY: I’m a high school senior who has dated a girl off and on. The first time, we didn’t have a ton in common, but we enjoyed each other’s company. She liked another guy, so after about three months, she broke up with me. I was OK with it.

This year, I started hanging out with her again. We started kissing right away. She found someone online that she somehow got attracted to within a matter of hours, and two days later I was dumped again. Her parents took her phone away the next day. She now says she regrets dumping me and I’m always on her mind at some point in the day.

She doesn’t have high self-esteem or self-confidence. I think she feels disconnected because of her many years of homeschooling. She’s also extremely depressed, I can tell that much. She has been talking to a therapist for a year, but it hasn’t helped, and she’s trying another one soon.

I don’t know how to help her or whether I should date her again. I love her, though, and I want to know her better, but we are both confused. I worry I’m not a good fit for her even if we are attracted. Please tell me how I can help her. — BOY IN LOVE IN GEORGIA

DEAR BOY IN LOVE: You are right that the girl you’re describing is “confused.” She’s not ready for a relationship with anyone at this point. Before you can help her, it is important that you help yourself by recognizing that her problems are more complicated than you can deal with.

This is not a reflection on you. Caring for her — loving her — is not enough. For your sake, take a step back. Be the friend she needs but do not count on her for anything more until she has dealt with the issues that challenge her.

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.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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