DEAR ABBY: Man’s lack of engagement concerns his family-to-be

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

DEAR ABBY: My stepdaughter is engaged to a wonderful young man she has been with for more than three years. We welcome him as part of our family and are excited to have him as a son-in-law. However, due to his overwhelming anxiety (as my stepdaughter explains it), he barely says a word whenever we see him.

In the several years they have been dating/engaged, he has joined us for only one family holiday meal, and conversation was painful, to say the least. We have invited him to many family gatherings (large and small), but he seems to have an excuse not to attend each one.

I very much want to get to know him better and make him feel welcome, comfortable and loved as part of our family, but his silence, lack of eye contact and his apparent desire to avoid us make it very difficult. Any advice? —CHALLENGED FUTURE MOTHER-IN-LAW

DEAR FUTURE M.I.L: You are overdue for a serious talk with your stepdaughter. Have you asked her if she knows the reason for her fiance’s lack of social skills? Is he this way with everyone, or just you and your husband? Could he be on the autism spectrum or feel intimidated by your attempts to make him feel “comfortable and loved”? His extreme introversion may be a red flag because it may have negative repercussions for her if she marries him.

DEAR ABBY: I got COVID from a friend who came to our book club even though her husband was ill. When she texted us a few days later about his positive test, I told her I was now sick. She called and left a message that she felt bad if she had given me COVID, but she has shown no concern since. I have had long-term COVID chest pain for three months, but she’s never sent a card or called to see how I am. I reached out to her several times and even brought her a birthday gift, but she doesn’t seem to care that I’m not well. It’s awkward because we’re neighbors and in several groups together. How can I save this friendship? — RECOVERING IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR RECOVERING: How can YOU save this friendship? Lady, YOU are the injured party. This woman may be a neighbor, but she isn’t acting like a friend. Call her and clear the air about how the situation has made you feel. When you see her, be civil and keep your distance. If she had been less self-centered, she wouldn’t have exposed you and the other book club members to what her husband had — even if it was “only” a common cold.

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