Dear Annie: My husband and I have a 22-year-old daughter who still lives at home.
Ashley has been dating the same guy for five years, but we can count on one hand the number of times he has come to our house.
We go out of our way to make him feel comfortable and have tried to get to know him, but nothing helps.
He seems to have a serious social disorder.
We are a close family, and Ashley loves our gatherings. Many times she will celebrate with us and then go see her boyfriend later. It seems she is living two separate lives, and they seldom intersect.
This young man cannot look us straight in the eye, which makes us worry he has something to hide.
At first we thought it was shyness, but after five years, it’s a little tiresome, and it’s becoming more and more difficult to like him.
A few times, I’ve brought up the subject with Ashley, being careful not to push the wrong buttons.
We thought she would tire of his behavior and move on, but she hasn’t, and now we’re scared to death this might be the guy she ends up with forever.
It appears to us that she is not really in love with him, but has simply become comfortable. How do we handle this? — Desperate for Her To Have a Normal Life
Dear Desperate: Ashley has been seeing this guy since she was 17 and may be too scared to end it, fearing she’ll never find anyone else.
It might help to discuss the relationship in those terms, letting her know you think she’s a terrific person and want her to be truly happy.
Ask her to tell you what she likes about this young man because you want to appreciate his positive attributes, too.
Still, Ashley is an adult now, and you have to let her make her own choices, even if you disagree.
Dear Annie: I will be turning 21 in a few months. My friends are pressuring me to do 21 shots and bong 21 beers.
I do plan on going to the bars for my birthday, and I do want to drink, but I’m afraid I’ll become sick from that much alcohol.
I want to have fun, but don’t want to drink so much that I will never want to drink again. Is there a correct amount to imbibe on your 21st birthday? How do I avoid getting sick? — Almost 21
Dear Almost: Unfortunately, binge drinking at age 21 has become more common and can lead to serious consequences — including alcohol poisoning, coma and death.
Worse, these so-called friends are encouraging you to drink double the usual amount, which doubles your risk, and there is a strong likelihood that you will end up in the emergency room (or morgue).
What is the worst thing that could happen if you refused to drink so much?
They would make fun of you? Big deal. And you’d be surprised how many others would admire you for taking a stand. Please put a limit on the booze, and if you are going to drink, take precautions. Pace yourself.
Eat a big meal beforehand, and continue to nibble throughout the evening.
Be sure to have the bartender or server bring you lots of water, and hydrate regularly.
Have a trustworthy friend monitor your condition, ensure you drink enough water and help you form the word “no” sooner rather than later.
Dear Annie: The letter from Just for Argument’s Sake brought back a flood of memories.
My late husband would rather argue than eat.
He would pick the opposite side of any subject, whether or not he knew anything about it. My family called him
The Great Contrarian. When I saw how many lawyers there were in his family, I decided it was genetic.
I learned that the way to cut him off was a resigned “yes, dear” that told him I would not debate, even if I did not agree.
It worked great.
At his memorial service, the only thing I heard was how he argued about everything. I had to remind them of his loving and gentle nature.
— I Had One, Too
Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.