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Condolences to friend better late than never

Dear Abby: My boyfriend of four years, "Joey," is a kind and loving person. Recently the father of one of his close childhood friends died. We live a plane ride away, and Joey could not get time off work to attend the services.

I assumed Joey called his friend and family to extend his sympathies. During our last visit home, I found out he had not reached out to them. I'm upset that he didn't, and I know the friend was deeply hurt by it.

At this point, what can Joey do to make things right? Why wouldn't he make the call in the first place? – Smoothing It Over in San Antonio

Dear Smoothing It Over: Joey may not have reached out because he didn't know what to do, which would have been to call and extend his condolences or send a card or handwritten note. He may have procrastinated because he didn't know what to say and was afraid he'd say the wrong thing.

The way to fix this would be for Joey to pick up the phone, apologize to his friend for not calling sooner, and confess that he knows he was wrong for not doing so. All he needs to say after that is that he's sorry for his friend's loss, which he knows must have been painful. Then he should be quiet and listen.

Dear Abby: My daughter-in-law allows her 2-year-old daughter to run around naked before bath time and at other times. They have been visiting us, and there are also other people in the house and yard. The child's mom tells her to say, "Look at these buns!" and laughs.

We feel this is inappropriate and dangerous. How can we get through to her that it's not right? – Concerned Grandma in Eau Claire, Wis.

Dear Grandma: While I don't think that allowing a child to run around nude at home is dangerous, I do agree that encouraging a child to run naked and say, "Look at these buns!" is unwise. The response it brings ("Ha, ha, ha – isn't she cute!") teaches the little girl that this is a way to get attention. While this may be amusing at 2, it is setting a pattern that will attract the wrong kind of attention when she is 4, 5 or 6. Envision her mooning the first-grade class! Perhaps you can make your daughter-in-law understand by showing her this column. I certainly hope so.

Dear Abby: I am an asexual college student with a question about dating. When should I tell someone that I'm asexual? I'm not really "out" – mostly because I don't feel the need to talk about it -- but I'm not ashamed of it, either. What do you think? – New England "Ace"

Dear Ace: I see no reason to announce it at a first meeting because it's nobody's business. The time to tell someone you are asexual is after you have gotten to know the person well enough to be comfortable sharing information.

In case you don't realize it, you are not the only asexual person out there. Because there's so much emphasis on sex and sexual orientation in our society, it might help you to know that an organization exists which enables asexuals to connect with each other. It's the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN), and you can find it on the Internet at asexuality.org.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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