DEAR ABBY: A woman I have known for 10 years has different political beliefs from mine. I haven’t viewed this as a reason to end the friendship; I just don’t bring up the subject of politics with her. She, on the other hand, constantly “slams” my beliefs, in person and via e- mail.

I have recently received several offensive letters from her. I didn’t respond and she keeps prodding me for a reaction. Believe me, she doesn’t want to hear what I have to say about her behavior. I have asked her to stop pushing her opinions on me and still she persists.

I feel that her antics are extremely disrespectful, and I’m to the point of ending communication with her altogether. What have you to say on this issue? – HARASSED IN HOUSTON

DEAR HARASSED: Tell her that the subject of politics is “verboten” until after the election. There’s a reason for that old warning, “Don’t discuss sex, religion or politics.” It can end friendships. She’s not going to change your views, and you aren’t going to change hers. Although she may be doing this to get a rise out of you, it’s disrespectful and a touch malicious.

DEAR ABBY: I have several good friends. Whenever a friend starts to become “clingy,” I start to withdraw and even try to avoid them.

By “clingy,” I mean they phone one or more times a day. Sometimes it’s people who expect me to go with them all the time, or “always” sit by them at gatherings or events. Not all my friends act this way, and I have great relationships with those few who don’t.

How can I convey to the others that I like my space and feel intruded upon when they become clingy? I try to laugh it off, but it wears on my nerves, and then I feel guilty for feeling the way I do. – FEELING BAD IN TEXAS

DEAR FEELING BAD: When people call too frequently, draw the line by telling them you are too busy to talk and will call them when it’s convenient. When you feel encroached upon, explain to those who expect you to accompany them “all the time,” that you have other plans.

Not all relationships need the same amount of care and feeding. The people with whom you interact need to learn to respect your boundaries. But in order for that to happen, you must level with your friends about your feelings and not beat yourself up for doing so.

DEAR ABBY: This guy asked me out. I was going to refuse, but he showed up at my door with flowers and I couldn’t say no.

Now I feel guilty, but I can’t possibly tell him. What should I do? – STUCK IN NEW YORK

DEAR STUCK: A lady keeps her word. Since you accepted his invitation – and his flowers – you go on the date. If he asks you out again, you tell him it’s not a good idea because you consider him a friend, not a romantic interest.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order “How to Have a Lovely Wedding.” Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.

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