DEAR ABBY: I was recently invited to a friend’s home for dinner. When I arrived just a few minutes past the time I was told the meal would be served, I found that everyone had finished eating. I was asked if I’d like something to eat and offered a plate, but refused because I would have felt uncomfortable eating alone while everyone else stood around visiting. I stayed about an hour and left.

The next day, I tried to explain to my friends that I felt like a fool walking in expecting to join them for dinner only to see it was over. I told them I thought it was rude of them to eat before all their guests had arrived. They felt that because everyone else had arrived earlier in the day and the food was ready, that it was OK. They also said I shouldn’t have gotten so upset about it.

Now I feel I have caused hard feelings between us and I should have just kept my mouth shut. Was it wrong to tell them how I felt? Am I wrong in thinking you should wait for all your guests to arrive before starting a meal? — HURT IN WASHINGTON

If the invitation read, “Come between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.” and you were the last to arrive “a few minutes past the time the meal was to be served,” then I can understand why the other guests started without you. However, if you were told that dinner was scheduled for 6 o’clock and when you arrived you were offered their leftovers, then your feelings are understandable.

Should you have spoken up? I think friends should be able to level with each other. And I find it interesting that telling them your feelings put them on the defensive.

DEAR ABBY: I have been dating “Ted,” a widower, for two years. Ted has two daughters in their 20s. One is a college student; the other is a professional woman. Both girls still live at home. The problem in our relationship is that Ted allows them to dictate what he can and cannot do.


I have been patient and understanding about the situation. Ted’s wife died three years ago, at age 50. The family was close. I feel Ted is leading two lives – one I am not a part of, which includes his friends, and our life, which includes my friends and family. Ted comes to my place and gets along with my 20-something sons with ease, but when I suggest going to his house, he refuses. He says his girls want nothing to do with me and tell him I’m not welcome.

His daughters have attempted more than once to sabotage our relationship, but I continue to be patient. Ted has said the girls need counseling, but they refuse. I suggested he go and then they could join him. Abby, how can a parent make adult children realize he needs to move on and live a happy, healthy life? – BIDING MY TIME IN ROCHESTER

Ted will not be able to convince his daughters until he accepts that reality himself and makes clear to them that he expects his friends to be treated with the same respect and good manners he treats theirs. However, what I find troubling about your situation is that he has never introduced you to any of his friends, either.

I agree that Ted appears to be living two lives. I also agree that he could benefit from counseling. But the question you should be asking yourself — not me — is how long you intend to tolerate the status quo.

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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