DEAR ABBY: I am a 20-something male who is madly in love with my girlfriend. That being said, I do have one concern. She dated a friend of mine for a short while prior to dating me. Their relationship was physically intimate, something I have reserved for only our relationship.

In short, I am having trouble facing my friend.

Can you advise me how to get over my discomfort at the physical nature of their relationship? She was never promiscuous. Her one “indiscretion” happens to be my good friend. – TRYING TO GET OVER IT

DEAR TRYING: You can overcome your discomfort by recognizing that today many people come with a sexual past, and by not allowing yourself to dwell on it. (If you do, it’ll be like pumping air into a balloon until it explodes.)

Your problem isn’t unusual. Most people like to fantasize that the partner they have chosen has no sexual history. If you’re worried about “comparisons” – look at it this way: YOU’VE got the girl.

DEAR ABBY: I was shocked and hurt recently when my grandmother wrote me a letter about the level of “disrespect” I supposedly “heaped on her” during a recent visit. I am 37 years old, and while visiting her after the funeral of a relative, I showed her some photographs of me and my fiance.

My fiance is a tall, handsome, African-American man I met and fell in love with two years ago. The “disrespect” she was alluding to in the letter was “because her granddaughter was involved with a black man.”

Abby, I was raised to accept people for who they are, lovingly and with respect, regardless of color or ethnicity. I do not want to be disrespectful of my grandmother or hurt her, but my fiance and I were married on April 15 and we are very happy. My question is, can old grandmothers be taught new tricks? – OFFENDED IN CARTERVILLE, GA.

DEAR OFFENDED: Some can, when they see their grandchild is happy in a stable marriage; others are too firmly entrenched in their biases to change their thinking. Remember, you and she are from different generations, and although mixed marriages are not uncommon these days, they were when your grandmother was growing up.

In your case, I wouldn’t count on teaching Granny any new tricks, because her mind appears to be locked tighter than Guantanamo Bay. But hold a good thought.

DEAR ABBY: I work in a small office with four “girls.” A fifth girl, whom I’ll call “Shirley,” takes her break with us. Over the past year, we have all become friendly.

Shirley has a daughter I’ll call “Toni.” Toni is pregnant, and Shirley is throwing her a shower. We are all invited, even though I am the only one who has met Toni, and only once, briefly. Shirley approached us to ask if any of us are attending the shower, and when we declined the invitation, she proceeded to ask if we would all chip in $10 for a gift from us.

Does this take nerve or what? Any suggestions? – MORTIFIED IN LANSFORD, PA.

DEAR MORTIFIED: It takes either “nerve” or total ignorance of the social graces. Unless you want to chip in for a group gift, I suggest you also decline that “invitation.”

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.

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