DEAR ABBY: Last week, my best friend, “Lana,” tried to kill herself. I’m not sure anyone else knows. Her brother beats her, and her mom yells at her for being “ungrateful” when she asks to spend a night elsewhere. My family has offered several times to let Lana live with us, as have her grandparents. After this week, I have begged her to. She still refuses.

Her plan is to move in with her boyfriend when she turns 18 in a few months. He’s a good guy, but I don’t think it will be good for her. I know they always say to tell an adult about a situation like this one, but Lana claims she’s not strong enough to actually leave before then — and she kept a secret of mine almost as big.

I’m scared and don’t know what to do. I love Lana and I know doing the wrong thing could end up with her dead. — TERRIFIED BFF IN TENNESSEE

DEAR TERRIFIED: If Lana tried to kill herself because of what’s happening at home, she can no longer remain there. Talk to her again. Moving in with her boyfriend is not the answer. It could be jumping from the frying pan into the fire. If she lives with him under these circumstances, she will be emotionally and financially dependent, and it’s not a healthy way to start a relationship.

Point out that if she lives with her grandparents — who understand how dysfunctional her home life has been — or your family, she will be in a safe place while she considers her options about finding a job or getting more education. Once she’s independent, she will be in a stronger position to make wise decisions about her future.

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend lost the “love of his life” to cancer two years ago. He talks about her and their life together endlessly. He says he wants to build a new life with me, but he constantly criticizes me because “she would handle the situation better.”

Abby, the woman was a physician from a wealthy family. I’m a blue-collar worker who single-parented two children. My parents passed away 20 years ago. Is there any hope for a future with him? Can I ever feel comfortable being who I am — not the ghost he wants me to be? — BLUE-COLLAR LOVER

DEAR LOVER: As long as your boyfriend continues to compare you unfavorably with his lost love, the answer is no. Have you told him how it makes you feel when he does it? If you haven’t, speak up! And when you do, suggest he find a grief support group, where he can talk and talk until he works through his loss better than he has. Until he does, you’ll never be happy. Competing with a ghost is a fight you can’t win.

DEAR ABBY: I’m a college student who has never had a boyfriend. I have been on a few dates with a guy I’ll call “Richard,” and while he’s nice, I don’t see this going anywhere.

On the other hand, I don’t want to break it off just yet because it’s nice having that kind of attention for once. But is it leading him on?

He likes me a lot more than I like him, but he knows I’m going to transfer next semester. What should I do? — CONFUSED DATER IN DES MOINES

DEAR CONFUSED DATER: You should be honest with Richard. Tell him you like him as a friend and remind him that your plan is to transfer next semester. That way, if he wants to continue seeing you, he’ll know the score and you won’t have led him on.

DEAR ABBY: My brother mocks everything I do, the friends I spend time with and my politics. When we’re together, he is often condescending and confrontational. I’m tired of arguing when I go to his home and he asks me what’s going on. I have started to answer, “Nothing.” So now he tells me how “boring” I am, in addition to his other criticisms.

Abby, his comments are hurtful and I try to stay away from him, but I love my little nieces and want to be around them as they grow up. I don’t have problems with anyone but him. Our other brother stopped talking to him years ago, but I don’t think I can do anything that extreme.

How can I change the dynamic in our relationship? It doesn’t seem to have progressed since we were kids. — UNDER ATTACK IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR UNDER ATTACK: The dynamic in your relationship hasn’t changed since you were kids because your brother never stopped being a bully. He calls you boring when you don’t take the bait because he considers belittling you to be a form of entertainment. You can’t change him. If you point out what he’s doing, he will deny it and blame you for being “too sensitive.”

You can, however, understand his childish motivation. Ignore him as much as possible and focus your attention on your nieces since that’s your only reason for going over there anyway.

DEAR ABBY: For 17 years I have been using the same hairstylist, “Marietta,” because she does great cuts and color. She’s married to my cousin “Gil,” but not for long. They’re divorcing.

Gil’s mother suggested I should find a different stylist, but when I did, I had horrible results. I returned to Marietta and it took her several appointments to correct my color.

Some family members are now furious with me for getting my hair done by someone who is soon to be a relative’s ex. I look at it as a business. I like what Marietta does for me. We never discuss the divorce. Family is now demanding an apology, and I don’t think I owe one. I haven’t been close to any of these people in years.

Must I say I’m sorry to distant family and discontinue Marietta’s services? Or should I say nothing and continue my professional relationship with her? My roots are beginning to show again, so please answer quickly. — SNIPPED IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR SNIPPED: Tell Gil’s mother to stay out of your hair. You tried leaving Marietta; it was a disaster — and you plan on using her until the day you curl up and dye.

Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com


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