DEAR ABBY: COVID causes rift between nurse’s boyfriend, his sister

Thursday, January 14, 2021

DEAR ABBY: I am a nurse in New York City. My boyfriend lives in Philadelphia. During the height of the pandemic, we didn’t see each other because I worked on a COVID unit and contracted the virus. His sister became very controlling and kept urging him not to see me, which brought me great pain. I was extremely lonely, and for months, the only people I saw were my co-workers.

At the end of May, my boyfriend and I began seeing each other regularly. Because he sees me, his sister refuses to see him, which makes me very sad. His mother died two years ago.

When his family tries to plan things, his sister either comes late or doesn’t show up. If I’m invited, she says she doesn’t want to be in the same room as me. I spend a lot of time with my boyfriend and his older father, who he now lives with. His father has never expressed that he feels uncomfortable around me.

I feel like we have to plan things around this sister. I want my boyfriend to spend time with his family, but she’s extremely controlling when everyone else in the family seems excited to see me. What do I do? — UNCOMFORTABLE SITUATION

DEAR UNCOMFORTABLE: I am assuming that if you are again working that you are tested regularly for COVID and therefore in no danger of giving the virus to anyone. Because there has been so much misinformation spread during the pandemic, many people are being extremely cautious -- and rightfully so.

If you had a good relationship with your boyfriend’s sister before the pandemic began, recognize that she acts the way she does because she’s afraid for her life, so stop personalizing it and judging her for it. She has a right to protect herself, even if it seems irrational to you.

DEAR ABBY: As a grandparent, I feel the Christmas gift my husband and I received last year from our granddaughter was a gift of a lifetime. We have enjoyed it all year. It was a gift of memories, written on 12 cards to be opened on the first day of each month. She had inserted each card into an individual envelope, designated with which month it was to be opened. She put them in a box wrapped with a bow and placed it under the tree.

The excitement generated while anxiously awaiting a new month’s arrival so the new memory could be read created enthusiasm among the entire family. In each envelope were experiences we had forgotten or never realized had made an impact on her life.

A gift like this requires only time and 12 pieces of paper. The concept could even be reversed so it would be from grandparent to grandchild. Few of us grandparents need material gifts, but the caring, thought and love shown by this gift will remain with us all our lives. — WANTED TO SHARE, FRESNO, CALIF.

DEAR WANTED TO SHARE: What a precious gift. I have long advocated that the most meaningful gift we can give each other is the gift of self, in the form of time, attention, a handwritten letter or a phone call. Your granddaughter’s concept of a “Memory of the Month Club” was ingenious. I congratulate her for it, and I hope it inspires others.

DEAR ABBY: I have known my friend “Matt” for more than 20 years. We’ve been close for most of those years.

Matt is gay, and early in our friendship, we had a mutual friend, “Gary,” who used a gay epithet often, even though he knew Matt is gay. It hurt Matt, but he wasn’t comfortable speaking to Gary about it, so I did. Gary not only apologized to Matt but to this day (some 18 years later), I haven’t heard Gary say that word in our company.

Recently, Matt has started using the N-word. I have told him that not only is it disgusting and offensive, but I compared it to the situation with Gary. Matt laughed it off and continues to use the word with no regard for me. I have started spending less time with him because of it because I don’t want him to think I condone his racist language. Is it time to sever ties with Matt? — DISAPPOINTED IN MARYLAND

DEAR DISAPPOINTED: I think so. The next time Matt uses the N-word, make clear to him that if you ever hear it from him again, your friendship will be OVER. And then follow through.

DEAR ABBY: I recently had my hair dyed by my brother-in-law who is a great hairstylist. I have seen his work on other clients, and he knows what he’s doing. I have received a lot of compliments on my new “do.”

Problem is, I didn’t get what I ASKED for. I was a coward at the time and didn’t speak up. Now my roots are starting to show, and I’ll be needing a touch-up soon. How do I go about going to another salon for what I want without hurting his feelings or causing hard feelings with my sister-in-law? — COWARD IN KANSAS

DEAR COWARD IN KANSAS: Make the appointment and have your hair done the way you prefer. If your sisteror brother-in-law asks about it, say you know he is terrific and how busy he is and didn’t want to “impose” further. If he’s as good as you say he is, he will notice that the color is different from what he used on you.

You’re not a coward for wanting to spare your BIL’s feelings. You do a disservice to him, however, as a professional for not being truthful about your opinion of his work on you. If he mentions it, explain that this is a color you are more comfortable with. Your head, your choice.