DEAR ABBY by Abigail Van Buren


DEAR ABBY: I was married to my first husband for 13 years and was very close to his family. His parents and sister were like my own. We ended up divorcing, and it was an extremely painful situation on both sides.

His family wanted to stay in touch with me afterward because they still loved me. I felt the same, so we remained connected through Facebook and the occasional phone call. After I remarried, their phone calls became less frequent, but we still remain connected on Facebook and message each other now and then.

It has been six years since my divorce, and we are drifting even further apart now because they often post photos of my ex and his new wife, who has become their daughter in my place. It's painful because it's a reminder that our relationship is fading away. I miss them and the wonderful times we had together that we will never have again.

Sometimes I wonder if it was healthy for any of us to stay in touch since we will never see each other in person, and all our online connection does is make us sad that things aren't the way they used to be. Should I politely cut ties or continue holding on to the frayed ends of what tiny shred of closeness we still have? How can I let go of such wonderful people in my life? And yet, are they not already lost to me? -- HURTING EX-DAUGHTER-IN-LAW

DEAR HURTING: As the circumstances of life change, so can the intensity of relationships. It says a lot about the one you had with your in-laws that they have remained in contact with you all this time. However, you and your ex have remarried, and your lives have taken different paths. Because seeing posts of the new wife causes you pain, stop viewing them and concentrate your energies on the life you have now. If you do, you will be happier.

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DEAR ABBY: I recently quit my job for several reasons. I was no longer satisfied with my work, and I was overwhelmed with the demands from my job and attending a graduate program at the same time. I told my boss I was feeling very stressed out working for them since starting my graduate program. She was supportive and said "the door was always open," and I was welcome to come back in the future.

Soon after quitting, I reached out to her twice for a letter of recommendation. To my dismay she never replied. I took it personally since I had worked alongside her for nearly five years. Abby, am I blowing this out of proportion, or should she have had the common courtesy to respond? Is it normal for businesses to ignore former employees when asking for a letter of recommendation for another job? -- CONFUSED IN THE WEST

DEAR CONFUSED: In some states, it can be risky for a company to provide a letter of recommendation. That is why if prospective employers ask for information, they are given only the dates the person was employed there, for fear of legal liability. This may be why your former employer was unwilling to write one for you.

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DEAR ABBY: I think a person in my life, "Janine," has kleptomania. I have seen her take things from my house, and I know she steals clothing from stores (as evidenced by the security clips still on them).

A friend witnessed her take boxes of doughnuts from my wedding. When my friend confronted her about it, Janine said that she "deserved" them. She even took my husband's glasses and then, a year later, set them on the kitchen counter -- next to her purse. She has other sporadic behaviors as well.

I'm struggling to be understanding about kleptomania, knowing that it's a mental illness. I don't want to lose my personal belongings or my relationships!

We're no longer comfortable having Janine in our home. I'm reluctant to talk to her about it because she can be combative and defensive. Is it socially acceptable to bring up this behavior with our mutual friends, or should we keep our mouths shut? -- TESTED IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST

DEAR TESTED: If you are sure that Janine has kleptomania, it would be a kindness to caution your mutual friends about it so they can protect their belongings. I would certainly want to know if I were inviting her to MY home.

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DEAR ABBY: I have been seeing a girl I met in high school and went with for a year. We both went our separate ways for a couple of years because I moved far away with my family. We started college in different states, but got back together over spring break a year ago. This year we got pinned to each other. However, even though we are committed to each other, because we are so far apart, we agreed we would go out on dates and socialize until we are engaged.

After a few months, I found out she had gone home with a co-worker after work when he offered to fix her dinner. Dinner led to wine and more than a few drinks, and then to kissing, fondling, etc. I was extremely hurt when she confessed it to me, and now I'm not sure I can trust her or if there are other things going on. We still plan to get engaged when the time is right, but should I believe she'll be faithful and truthful, or should I find someone else I know I can trust? -- LET DOWN IN ILLINOIS

DEAR LET DOWN: Give her props for being honest with you about the kissing and fondling, but before making up your mind, clarify exactly what the "etc." means. You should also make sure you have a clear definition about what "socializing" means. (There is socializing and then there is SOCIALIZING.) If your definitions don't line up, then break up.

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DEAR ABBY: My mother committed to going to my son's first College National Honor Society induction ceremony. My brother's wife's grandmother passed away, and her wake/funeral is the same day. My mother backed out of her commitment to my son and is now going to the wake/funeral. Should I feel angry that she did this? Which event should she commit to? -- HURT IN THE EAST

DEAR HURT: Calm down. You stated that this will be your son's "first" induction into the National Honor Society, which implies that there may be more. Your mother will have but one opportunity to pay respects to her in-law, which is why she changed her plans. Accept it.

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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.

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Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $16 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

(EDITORS: If you have editorial questions, please contact Sue Roush,


1130 Walnut, Kansas City, MO 64106; 816-581-7500

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