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OPINION | DEAR ABBY: Crabby distant relative is an unwelcome freeloader

by Abigail Van Buren | February 18, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.

DEAR ABBY: My husband is an amazing guy. We have a very nice life except for an older sort-of family member who is living with us.

"Nathan" has been living in the house for years, but he isn't a blood relative. He's my husband's late stepfather's brother. Nathan is a several-times-divorced curmudgeon who was living in a shed. He was allowed to stay here to get on his feet and, partially, out of respect for the stepfather.

Nathan refuses to help out in any way. He comes and goes as he pleases and is living rent-free. We pay the mortgage and all the bills. Nathan buys food and stuff for himself, but then will eat the household food my mother-in-law buys.

I'm tired of the garbage he makes. He smokes in his room, and he's nasty, rude and demanding. He needs to move out or pay up, but my husband doesn't want to do anything. Advice? -- UNHAPPY AT HOME

DEAR UNHAPPY: Just this. Realize that nothing will change until your husband is finally willing to put his foot down and insist on some changes, or the freeloader leaves this earthly plane for the next. I would have used the phrase "goes to heaven," but it appears Nathan is already experiencing heaven right here on Earth, so do not expect him to move on his own.


DEAR ABBY: I was recently informed that my best friend of 10 years, "Darlene," planned to ghost me as soon as she got pregnant. I'm shocked that she would say such a thing or plan to do it. I always thought I was a good friend.

But now Darlene and her husband are getting a divorce, and she has been all chummy. I have a sour taste in my mouth. Do I stay friends and get over it, or give her her wish and disappear? -- UNFRIENDED IN THE WEST

DEAR UNFRIENDED: Are you sure the person who informed you about her plan is credible? Could they be jealous of the close friendship you have with Darlene? Frankly, it would be incredibly stupid for a person planning to ghost someone to tell a mutual friend who might leak it before the fact. Talk to Darlene! Do not end the friendship unless you are absolutely certain what you were told was the gospel.


DEAR ABBY: My 82-year-old mother made a special request of her visiting relatives on Christmas Day. She asked everyone to hand over their cellphones for the entire celebration upon entering or "don't come." She said she would return them as we left.

Certain family members had major meltdowns because of her request. My mother, as always, provided hors d'oeuvres, dinner and gifts for all 23 people. Do you think this was a fair request? -- NOT A BIG DEAL

DEAR NOT: Your mother wanted to encourage more than superficial communication. As she indicated, if anyone felt her request was too much of an imposition, they were free to refuse her invitation. The oldest rule of entertaining is: The host makes the rules. Of course it was a fair request!

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