Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend, “Kirk,” and I have been dating exclusively for nearly two years and live together. We met during the pandemic, so for the first year or so, we mostly hung out — just the two of us. Since the world has opened back up, I’ve been encountering some problems now that we’re able to socialize with others.

Kirk often becomes silent and moody when we are around my friends. He’ll often leave early and abruptly without saying a proper goodbye. I find it incredibly rude. We’ve talked about it a number of times, but it continues. Kirk never acts this way around his own friends or family.
He also sometimes becomes terse, irritable and depressed when it’s just the two of us, typically before or during an outing. Because of this, a number of promising date nights have ended badly.
As his behavior continues, it makes me more and more angry. Kirk says this is just the way he is and he can’t be happy all the time. Is a relationship worth trying to save if you can’t consistently have fun with each other outside the house? — MYSTIFIED IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR MYSTIFIED: A relationship doesn’t have to be a laugh a minute to be successful. However, Kirk appears to be an introvert or possibly suffering from a social anxiety disorder, which would explain his behavior around your friends. If that’s the case, consider minimizing the amount of time and number of people he’s exposed to. What I find troubling is your statement that he sometimes becomes so terse and irritable, your dates are canceled at the last minute. This indicates (to me) that the romance may be cooling. The way to find out if it’s true would be simply to ask him.
DEAR ABBY: My mother’s side of the family are greedy, self-involved, narcissistic, self-important alcoholics. My mother “escaped” five years ago when she drank herself to death. My aunt was kind of a second mother to me because Mom wasn’t around much when I was growing up.
Since Mom passed, my aunt has been acting like she’s all alone and our family wants her around only for whatever she can do for them. I have never asked her for anything; I just enjoy her company. She is now facing a possible cancer diagnosis and saying that since she had no children and she’s done everything on her own, she’ll do this alone as well.
How can I get her to realize that while I’m not her child, I’m here for her for whatever she needs? I still haven’t gotten over my mom dying, and I know I couldn’t handle it if she were to pass, too. Then I really would have no family left. Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated. — DYSFUNCTIONAL IN KANSAS
DEAR DYSFUNCTIONAL: Pay your aunt a visit. Find out if that “possible” cancer diagnosis is definite. If it isn’t, thank your higher power. If it is, tell her you love her and are grateful for the love and support she has shown you when you needed it and that she’s not as alone as she thinks she is. Make clear that you will support her during this period in any way she needs if she will let you. That is all you can do without being intrusive.
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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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