Dear Annie: I live at home with my parents and three siblings. My sister “Hannah” has been dating “James” for four years, and he’s been in jail for three of them (gun possession and drug possession with intent to distribute).
We believe in second chances, so when James got out of jail, we allowed him to live with us, which turned out to be a huge mistake. I believe he is back to his old habits, which puts my family in a very dangerous situation. My parents have no idea what has been going on, and I would like to keep it that way because their health is fragile.
I confronted Hannah, and she accused me of being prejudiced against James because of his past. But a very good friend of Hannah’s confirmed my suspicions. She said I should get James out of my home immediately. According to this friend, Hannah is not only aware of his drug activities, she also knows he is seeing other women. He wants to break up with Hannah, but she keeps threatening to kill herself. She has a history of depression.
I am upset with my sister for lying to me and allowing James to put our family in jeopardy. I want him out of the house, but I know if he leaves, Hannah will follow. This is breaking my heart. How do I get him out without destroying my sister?
— Worried and Sad
Dear Worried: If the information from that friend is correct, your sister seems emotionally unstable. Urge her to seek professional counseling for her own well-being. In the meantime, it would be best if James wanted to leave voluntarily, and if he truly wants to break up with Hannah, that’s a good way to do it. But he has a sweet deal staying at your house, and he’s not likely to go. You cannot force him out, and it is dangerous to try. You may need to talk to your parents about it and even call the police. And if Hannah goes with him, so be it. You cannot fix everything.
Dear Annie: A year ago, I had an affair. I confided in a good friend what I had done and then confessed to my husband of 32 years. He forgave me, and we have worked hard to put our marriage back together.
Recently, this so-called friend told people at work what I had done. One of those people was my daughter. Now I get the cold shoulder from everyone at work, and my daughter is threatening to tell her dad. (She has no idea he already knows.)
Am I wrong to be miffed by this treatment and by the betrayal of my friend?
— Disappointed in Myself
Dear Chicago: Being miffed is entirely your prerogative. We wouldn’t worry about the people at work. But you should talk to your daughter. Tell her you are sorry for what you did and that her father already knows. Explain that the two of you are working hard to put this in the past and make your marriage stronger. She needs to know. As for your untrustworthy former friend, ignore her and don’t ever confide in her again.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Indiana,” who couldn’t figure out why people never came to her parties.
These are the friends whose homes I avoid: One has cats. If you sit on her furniture, your entire backside is covered in cat hair. A second has an obnoxious dog that perches in front of you and begs. If you don’t oblige, it jumps on your lap. The hosts think this is so cute. A third has a house so dirty I’m afraid to eat her food. A fourth has a home filled with nicotine stench, and you leave smelling like a bar. The fifth (a relative) makes lovely-looking dinners that are totally inedible. My sister and I tried to figure out if the secret ingredient is sawdust.
What “Indiana” might think is normal, other people may find disgusting. If you fit any of these categories, that’s why no one comes to your parties.
— Also from Indiana