DEAR ABBY - I've been in a relationship with my boyfriend for a little over five months. We've enjoyed spending time with each other, but we never have deep, meaningful conversations, and I feel it's negatively impacting our relationship.
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Because of the coronavirus quarantine, we can't see each other because we're in our teens and don't live together. If we don't start having conversations that mean something to either of us over the phone, I'm afraid we'll break up before we're allowed to see each other again. Please give me some advice.
Stuck in quarantine
DEAR STUCK - You may be worrying needlessly. Stop for a moment and ask yourself what kind of conversations you had with your boyfriend BEFORE the pandemic. How deep were they?
Express how you've been feeling lately, but, if you can, try to keep conversations upbeat. Share stories and videos with him that make you laugh. If he wants to discuss his concerns, be prepared to listen, but don't push him in that direction. Space your calls so there will be something fresh to talk about. And always end your chats by telling him how much you care about him, which will probably make him smile.
DEAR ABBY - I'm at my wits' end. I love my husband, but when we have company, he dominates the conversation, usually repeating the same stories over and over. If friends and family tell him they've heard the story before, he just ignores the remark and continues.
He is retired, and I realize he doesn't socialize enough. His health hasn't been the best. By the end of the evening, I'm worn out. What can I do?
Pain in hosting
DEAR PAIN - That your husband is retired and isolated may contribute to his problem. As soon as it's feasible, encourage him to get out of the house and involve himself in some new activities where he can put his talents and experience to good use. However, if his repetitiveness is new behavior, this should be discussed with his doctor so he can be evaluated, because it could indicate the onset of a medical or neurological problem.
DEAR ABBY - I have several adult nieces and nephews whose dysfunctional upbringing makes them react in a very hostile and aggressive manner to anyone they perceive as disagreeing with them. They verbally abuse anyone they view as opposing them. They have so alienated their parent's new spouse that they are no longer welcome in that parent's home at any time, for any reason.
I would like to remain on semi-friendly terms with them, but I am unwilling to accept their verbal abuse. Is there any way this can be fixed?
Distancing in Oklahoma
DEAR DISTANCING - Unless your nieces and nephews are willing to accept that they have anger management issues that need addressing, this isn't a problem that anyone other than a licensed professional can fix. If one of them unleashes a tirade on you, CALMLY point out that you prefer not to be abused and end the conversation by absenting yourself. Do it once, and I guarantee the word will spread.
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.
Good advice for everyone - teens to seniors - is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)
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