Dear Abby: I'm incredibly fond of my friend "Russell." He is always supportive, considerate and kind to me. However, I know that he is into S&M and this worries me, as I can't reconcile the two different people -- a gentle person with someone wanting to dominate and possibly hurt a woman in bed.
Should I be worried that Russell is hiding a dark side that will eventually come out and ruin our friendship? – Worried Friend in Australia
Dear Worried: You and Russell must be very close friends if he is describing his sexual practices with you. My experts tell me that acting out on aggressive fantasies does not necessarily mean a person IS aggressive.
As long as your relationship remains platonic, what he does in the bedroom shouldn't affect it. But if you're considering taking your friendship with Russell to another level, it's important that you talk further about this. If this isn't something you're interested in exploring – and it isn't for everyone – then draw the line or move on.
Dear Abby: I'm a 14-year-old girl, and my mother just got home from rehab. I have been living with my grandmother for a year and a half.
I want to tell my mother my feelings, but I don't want to hurt her. I love her, but I'm still not over what she has done. She is barely home. She has meetings, and she likes to stay with her boyfriend. I think it's too soon. She came home only a week ago. What do I do, Abby? – Confused Teen
Dear Confused: You have my sympathy. I hope your mother's rehabilitation will be successful. It's good that she is going to meetings, and I agree with you that it's too soon for her to be staying with her boyfriend.
However, she's unlikely to accept hearing it from you or me, which is why you should talk to your grandmother about your feelings. Your mother might accept it if she hears from your grandmother that should there be any "bumps" in her relationship with this man – and there usually are a few – that they could jeopardize her sobriety.
Dear Abby: I have a 19-month-old son, "Nicky." He stays at my in-laws' house most days while my husband and I work. Lately, I've noticed when I go to pick him up that Grandma and Grandpa like to give him "kiss attacks," where they hold him "hostage" and give him several kisses.
Sometimes he lets them, and it's not a problem. Other times he squirms, whines and tells them no. It's painful to watch, especially when they respond with, "I know you're not going to like this, but I'm going to do it anyway."
I think this is a huge violation of my son's boundaries. It teaches him he should just give in because nobody cares that he's uncomfortable. My husband thinks Nicky is too young to understand, and that it's not going to hurt him to have extra affection.
I'm an affectionate person who likes to hug and kiss my son, too, but if he's not in the mood, I let him be. Who is right? – Loving Mommy in Colorado
Dear Loving Mommy: You are. Affection is something welcome. If you don't want it, it's not affection. The most significant issues in child development have to do with nurturing and building trust. However well meant, holding a child "hostage" is more a display of power than affection.
If your in-laws stopped "attacking," your son would be more likely to seek their affection when he wants it. A better way to demonstrate their love for him would be to do something creative, like draw a picture showing their affection for him.
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.