Dear Abby: I am a 34-year-old woman. I live in a ground floor unit in an apartment complex with my terrier-collie mix, who is a very good judge of character.
An elderly neighbor has a habit of walking his German shepherd by my unit. My dog does not like the man and barks ferociously every time he hears them. What unsettles me is that something seems off about him, and his behavior is becoming intrusive.
The couple of times he has seen me outside, he has asked me if I live “all alone” or comments that he “hasn’t seen my boyfriend around in a long time.” He peers into my window when he walks and lingers, despite my growling and snarling dog. I tried closing the blinds, but now he comes to my door and knocks. I haven’t answered because he makes me feel unsafe.
I want to confront him, but I’m not sure what to say. It’s also happening right in front of the building I live in, which makes me nervous. What should I do? – Wary in Washington
Dear Wary: The person you describe may be more lonely – or nosy – than dangerous. You can’t stop someone from walking his dog past your front door if that is where the exit is located. Talk to your other neighbors and ask if he has a history of doing this with them.
If he knocks on your door again, tell him you are busy and don’t like being disturbed and to stop doing it. If he asks any more personal questions or comments again about your boyfriend’s absence, tell him your social life is none of his business. If it will make you feel more secure, install security cameras in your apartment, and if you catch him peering into your windows again, tell him you have him on camera and you will report him not only to building management but also the police.
Dear Abby: I’m a middle-aged woman who needs to know what to do. I have family members who say if I weren’t around, things would be a lot better. I was told from the beginning that I was a “mistake.” I am wondering, should I stay hurt with them for saying these things, or should I let it go?
They are always saying I will never amount to anything. When I say something to them about the way they make me feel, they tell me to be quiet and mind my own business. Should I tell them how I feel or what? – Devalued in the South
Dear Devalued: A family member (!) who would say something so cruel as what you have described is someone you should avoid contact with, if possible. It’s very important that you spend time with people – other family members or friends – who help you to feel better about yourself rather than worse.
Should you tell these family members how you feel? Ordinarily, I would say yes. However, because you have already done that, I don’t think it would enlighten them. Believe me, you have my sympathy because these relatives are toxic.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.