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Friends to Follow

Dear Abby 8/15

Cynical husband disapproves of wife's friendship with man

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    DEAR ABBY: I have been married to "Tim" for almost seven years. I have a male co-worker, "Chad," who is a good friend. Tim thinks that a man is friends with a woman only if he wants something from her. He says that Chad must be gay, sexually interested in me, or using me as a means to some end.
    Quite frankly, I am hurt that Tim doesn't think I am interesting enough to be friends with and feels that I can be seen only in "that way." Chad has never once hit on me or given me the slightest reason to doubt his platonic feelings. He is also not gay.
    How can I convince my husband that my friend is not trying to seduce me or use me? I have tried inviting Tim to hang out with us so he can get to know Chad better; he always declines. I'm at my wits' end because I dislike upsetting my husband, but I refuse to give up a good friend. -- PULLING MY HAIR OUT IN CAMBRIA, WIS.
    DEAR PULLING: There is no way to convince your husband that your co-worker isn't trying to seduce or use you because that is the way your husband's mind works. In other words, when Tim says that men are friends with women only for what they can get, he is describing HIMSELF. And the reason he refuses to take the time to get to know Chad better is that by refusing, he is putting limits on the relationship and controlling you. You have my sympathy.
    DEAR ABBY: I am a widow whose 43-year-old daughter is dating a 56-year-old man. They have both been married before and have children from prior marriages.
    They have been discussing marriage. Is it unreasonable of me to expect my future son-in-law to ask me for my daughter's hand in marriage as a sign of respect and in the name of tradition? -- TRADITIONAL MOM-IN-LAW-TO-BE
    DEAR TRADITIONAL: Yes, it is. Your daughter has long since reached the age at which she is entitled to decide for herself whether to give or withhold her hand — or anything else. And the sooner you dismount from your high horse, the happier your relationship with your future son-in-law will be.
    DEAR ABBY: I work at one of the nicer, upscale restaurants in our small community. We have been having an issue with groups or committees of anywhere from four to 15 people coming into the establishment to hold their meetings. These groups frequently arrive at normal evening dinner times and therefore take up a table, but the attendees don't order anything.
    How can you politely tell these people that if they want to use our dining establishment, they should purchase something? Their behavior is just plain rude! The owner and many of the staff would like to be able to say something, but don't know how to phrase it without making these people angry. -- BAFFLED IN MINNESOTA
    DEAR BAFFLED: Your problem should be handled by the manager of the restaurant. In many restaurants the minimum order per person is printed on the menu, and that is a policy you should institute. The next time the freeloaders come trooping in, the new policy should be pointed out to them.
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