OPINION | DEAR ABBY: Friend worries house rules might affect planned visit

Dear Abby: I have known “Gigi” since second grade. We have stayed in touch, although more sporadically in the last two decades. Until 10 years ago, she would spend a week with us in the summer. Shortly after our first child was born, she started dating and living with her boyfriend.

Soon after they began dating, Gigi asked about coming to visit, and I agreed, but said they would need to sleep in separate rooms. She said yes, and I don’t think she was surprised because she has known me for so long. The plans didn’t work out and they didn’t come. That was five years ago.

We were recently on the phone, and she asked about visiting. I told her I was glad to meet her boyfriend at last, and we set a date. Neither of us mentioned the sleeping arrangements, but I feel maybe I need to clarify again. I have made a decision that in my home I should never have to feel uncomfortable. Their sharing the same room would make me uncomfortable.

During the conversation five years ago, I told Gigi that if sleeping separately made them uncomfortable, we could see each other during the day and they could stay in a hotel or another friend’s home. She hasn’t mentioned her plans this time, but right now it sounds like they intend to stay here. What should I do? — House Rules In Utah

Dear Rules: Because Gigi and her boyfriend sharing a room in your house would still make you uncomfortable, call her and explain that your feelings on the subject of sleeping arrangements haven’t changed. This is not a discussion you should have upon their arrival.

Dear Abby: What’s the best way to decline handshakes? In social settings, I often find myself ready to dine, hands washed, only for someone to thrust their hand toward me. The last thing I want before handling my food is to shake anyone’s hand.

In one instance, a man who was hosting the gathering with his wife returned from a bike ride as we were approaching the dinner table and offered me his sweaty hand. Refusing elicited a dirty look from my partner and a bewildered look on the face of the bicyclist. Please advise. —

Keeping Clean In The West

Dear Keeping Clean: If this is of any comfort, you are not the only person who dislikes shaking hands. Over the years, I have received letters from many others who share your concern. Some are afraid of covid; others simply dislike the physical contact. (In some cultures, handshaking is never done.) Some individuals avoid it by placing their palms together, leaning forward a bit, smiling and saying something like, “Great to see you!” or, in your case, “So how was that bike ride?” If you don’t do this already, keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer on you to use when you’re out of options.

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 P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069 or visit


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