DEAR ABBY: There's this guy I like, "Joey." My sister likes him, too. Joey and I are not dating, although we are very close friends. My sister (of course) decided to ask him out on a date. I'm so upset with her. It has been two days since their date and I'm still not talking to her.
I can't believe she asked him out when she knew I was about to. I don't want to ruin our relationship, but Joey is now into her. Please give me some advice before I do something terribly wrong. -- CAN'T TAKE IT IN FLORIDA
DEAR CAN'T TAKE IT: If your sister jumped in knowing you were interested in Joey, it was sneaky and wrong. But you have nothing to gain by declaring war over it. Keep your options open and bide your time. With luck, their romance will blow over -- and when it does, if you have maintained your position as Joey's "close friend," you can make your move then. It may take nerves of steel, but I have faith in you, and it will be worth it in the long run.
DEAR ABBY: My niece is being married soon on the East Coast. My husband and our two teenaged children have been invited to attend. We cannot afford the multiple airfares and the cost of hotel accommodations that attending this wedding would require.
We don't look poor and we don't act poor, but money is very tight right now because we're paying for the last semester of our third child's college tuition. I had already sent a lovely shower gift to my niece.
How can we gracefully decline the invitation without offending anyone? We also have household repairs that have to be attended to. -- JUST DON'T HAVE IT IN SAN DIEGO
DEAR JUST DON'T HAVE IT: As I see it, you have two choices -- respond by saying you have a "conflict," or tell these relatives you would love to be there, but with the cost of a college education these days, you can't swing it. (I vote for the latter.)
DEAR ABBY: I lost my mom last year. It was unexpected, and my father and I are still hurting. Mom had a friend who never fails to tell me how the loss of her mother and her husband was much more painful for her than my loss. Every time I have the unfortunate luck of answering the phone when she calls, she'll ask how I'm doing, then launch into how hard it was on her and I don't know the true pain that she does.
I am sick of people telling me they understand how I feel and what I'm going through. No one knows the depth of what I'm experiencing, except maybe my sibling. I moved back home to take care of my wonderful mother. She was my best friend. I could tell her anything and she was never judgmental. I love her and I hurt from her loss.
Please tell people when offering condolences to just listen and be there. That's what anyone who suffers a loss needs more than anything. Do not compare your pain to theirs.
And Abby, please know how sorry I am for the loss of your own dear mother, and thank you for letting me vent. -- HOLE IN MY HEART IN OCEAN SPRINGS, MISS.
DEAR HOLE IN YOUR HEART: I'm sorry for your loss, too, and you're welcome. Please know that no rule of etiquette says you have to listen to that woman's insensitive prattle. The next time she starts, it is perfectly acceptable to stop her cold and tell her that when she compares her pain to yours she is being insensitive, and that if she does it one more time you will hang up. Clearly, she is not calling to see how you're doing; she is calling to dump. There are times when you must protect yourself, and this is one of them.
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