Dear Abby: Boyfriend's holiday texts to his ex hurt my feelings

FOR ABBY: I was at a loss as to how to face my sister, “Julie.” We had a very difficult childhood. We lost our mother when she was only 48 years old. My problem with Julie is the way she continues and blatantly narrates. He has two young children and was recently divorced. While I felt terrible about her situation and was happy to be there to help her, her lies pushed me up the wall.

The things he makes are so weird, it makes me cringe. He's clear about that, and it screams red flags. I'm a proud aunt of my nephews, and I don't want them to pick up this habit from her. I know Julie will not want to admit she has a problem, because she gets very defensive when it comes to anything she needs to work on. What can I do? — SURE IN UTAH

DEAR SURE: There's nothing you can do to help someone with problems they refuse to admit, but there may be something you can do to help their children. Model honest behavior, admit when you make a mistake, praise them when they imitate you and reprimand them when you catch them lying. Then hope it will help them learn not to manipulate others. If their dad is in the picture, let's pray that he can be a positive influence on them too.

FOR ABBY: My fiancé moved back in with me after living elsewhere for five months. She brought in a puppy that will grow to be a 50 to 75 pound dog. I explained to him that I don't like having dogs in my cramped space. He said he wanted a house dog, but I think he wanted an excuse to stay home. How can I convince him that the consequences could end our relationship? — IMPOSSIBLE IN NORTH CAROLINA

DEAR IMPOSSIBLE: Why did your fiancé live “somewhere else” for five months? Why would you let him move back in with a dog if you didn't want him in your cramped space? A 50 to 75 pound dog needs exercise and a yard. Sounds like your place has neither. Unless you want a stay-at-home wife and a big dog, draw the line NOW. If you don't communicate in plain English, your fiancé will continue to ignore your wishes and trample on you. Don't say you weren't warned.

FOR ABBY: In your opinion, what's a good way to respond to people who email you by saying “love you” or “I love you” when the sender is stating a birthday? For example, without going into specifics, I would text a close relative's second wife (happy birthday), and she would always reply, “Love you!” I don't love this woman, and I find it hard to answer that I love her too, but I don't. — UNCOMFORTABLE IN THE WEST

UNCOMFORTABLE DEAR: Another way to respond is to write, “Back to you!” while firmly fighting the urge to declare that you do NOT love him either. Thank-you note!” would also be appropriate.

FOR MY READERS: For those who celebrate Easter, I wish you all a very meaningful and memorable day. Happy Easter, everyone! — LOVE, ABBY

Dear Abby was written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or PO Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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