Dear Abby • “Eileen” and I have been friends for 21 years. She’s been supportive through my life’s ups and downs, even though I’ve twice moved several states away. She has always made me laugh.
Abby, over the years, she has increasingly flaunted her spending habits, bragging about how much she spent on her son’s birthday or Christmas gifts or home renovations, and sending me pictures of her brand-new cars.
I’m not jealous. I grew up in an upscale neighborhood with career-driven, successful parents who loved and provided for us. I was also very close to my sisters and am to this day. Eileen grew up in less fortunate circumstances. She never saw her mother much, and she found her father only recently through social media.
I am finding Eileen’s behavior increasingly annoying. Would it be wrong to say something to her about this? I’m afraid if I open my mouth, it could potentially destroy our friendship. What do you advise? — Annoyed in Kentucky
Dear Annoyed • When people behave the way Eileen does, it usually reveals more about their insecurity than their success. Eileen did not grow up with the advantages that you enjoyed, and she may do this because she thinks it’s the only way to measure up.
Let your friend know you’re happy things are going well for her. Then, ask her why she does this. After she responds, tell her that you have always loved her for who she is, not for what she has — and in the future you wish she would not take up space in your precious conversations with insignificant topics like material things.
Dear Abby • In about three years, my wife and I will be able to comfortably retire. The problem is she’s 57 and has smoked since she was in her teens. In addition to tobacco, she also smokes reefer and consumes alcohol three or four nights a week, and her family medical history is not great. I indulge a little with her — on weekends only — and I’m not a smoker.
Needless to say, I’m becoming increasingly worried that our golden years will be difficult or cut short. I have tried talking to her about it, but she doesn’t want to hear it. She’s a great person and the love of my life, and I don’t want to lose her before we can enjoy retirement and grandkids. What can I do? — Worried Sick in New Jersey
Dear Worried Sick • Try this approach: Tell your wife she’s the love of your life and you would like to spend your golden years celebrating them with her while you both take full advantage of everything you have worked so hard to accumulate. Explain you’re worried that her vices will shorten her life, which is why you “need” her to quit smoking cigarettes and cut down on the drinking.
If she refuses, add that if her life ends prematurely, your life will not be over, and what a shame it would be if everything you had worked and planned for couldn’t be enjoyed together. If that doesn’t motivate her, nothing will.
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 DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.