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Friends to Follow

Dear Abby 10/18

Cell phone messages should be considered private property

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Posted: October 17, 2006 6:19 p.m.
Updated: October 25, 2006 5:00 a.m.
DEAR ABBY: During the last few weeks, two young women I know have confided to me about similar situations with their boyfriends. Each said her boyfriend took her cell phone and went through her logged calls, voice messages and text messages, checking to see who she had talked to. Both young men were furious that the girls had contact with other male friends. Both incidents were frightening.
    I am a middle-aged woman, and I don't feel I have an old-fashioned point of view. They asked my opinion about this, and I told them I'd never violate my husband's — or boyfriend's or girlfriend's — privacy by looking at mail personally addressed to them, going through their purse, wallet, checkbook or cell phone. I consider it a matter of respect and trust. Both young women claim that the calls and text messages were innocent.
    What is your opinion about the privacy of cell phones and other personal items? -- CAROL IN FARIBAULT, MINN.
    DEAR CAROL: Both of the boys you mentioned have serious control and insecurity issues, which could possibly lead to dating violence in the future. What they did was a huge invasion of privacy, and of enough concern to me that I question whether those relationships should continue.
    As to that kind of thing happening in more mature relationships, if the level of trust has been so eroded that snooping is necessary, the relationship is already in serious trouble. Also, the person doing the snooping may be guilty of the cheating that he or she is obsessed with discovering. There's an old saying, "A person doesn't look behind the bedroom door unless he (or she) has stood there in the past."

    DEAR ABBY: My sister, "Ellie," got a new puppy. The puppy was 10 weeks old and already named "Lizzy." Well, my other sister is named Elizabeth.
    We live on opposite coasts and have very little contact with Elizabeth. It is only over the last year that we have really made an effort to stay in touch, mostly by e-mail. When Elizabeth heard that Ellie has a dog named Lizzy, she had a fit! Although we never called Elizabeth "Lizzy," it was part of her childhood nickname.
    Elizabeth is insisting that the puppy's name be changed, and if it is not, she wants no contact regarding it. With most of the family here, including all of the nieces and nephews, I can see this leading to her refusing to visit — which we have been trying to arrange for years. Is it fair for her to make this demand? -- UNSURE IN NEW BRUNSWICK
    DEAR UNSURE: I can see why your sister might be sensitive about it, particularly if you haven't been close. In the interests of family harmony, call the dog "Izzy" or Dizzy" — but don't call it "Lizzy."
    DEAR ABBY: I was reading your online archives and saw that a few years ago you asked people to write in with funny names that matched people's occupations. Well, in case you ever want to print more, I took a class in college last year called "The Sociology of Men," and it was taught by Dr. Males. -- CATHY S., ATLANTA
    DEAR CATHY: He's certainly aptly named. After that column appeared, I heard from Miss Hunger, a dietitian who was mentioned. She wanted me to know that she was a graduate of Stout University in Wisconsin. (No joke!)
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