DEAR ABBY: My aunt is a perfectionist who loves hosting get-togethers at her house once a week. I love being at home on a day off, so I can get chores done around the house and catch up on rest. I feel like I'm suffocating when she insists on including me, because it is time away from my home on a Sunday or a holiday.

When I attend, I feel like I'm really there to do the behind-the-scenes things, like dishes, trash, etc., and I don't get to relax, visit and enjoy the get-togethers. If I don't attend or I protest in any way, she gets really upset.

I don't know how to achieve a win-win for both of us. My aunt has a big heart and loves entertaining people. I'm an introvert, and I'm definitely not an entertainer. Being around people makes me feel overwhelmed, where it revitalizes her. Please help. — UNCOMFORTABLE IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR UNCOMFORTABLE: Explain your feelings to your aunt exactly as you have to me. If she's as big-hearted as you say, she should understand and let you off the hook without becoming "really upset." From where I sit, you are being treated less as a guest than as a one-person, free kitchen and cleanup crew. You have the right to spend your holidays and weekends exactly as you wish, just as she does.

 

DEAR ABBY: I recently confessed my feelings to a married man after a year of liking him. We have known each other for five years. I ignored the signs of his interest in me until this past year. He hasn't even been married a year yet, but he gives me attention and flirts with me.

After I told him how I felt, he didn't tell me where he stood with it, didn't shut me down or tell me he feels the way I do. But he did hug me four days later, something he has never done before. What do I do in a situation like this? I can't let these feelings go. — LETTING GO IN THE WEST

DEAR LETTING GO: What you do in a situation like this is stop chasing a married man. You knew him for four years before his wedding. During that time he not only never asked you out, he courted and married someone else. For your sake, you had better find a way to let those feelings go or channel them elsewhere, because what you want is not going to happen and will keep you from finding someone who is available.

 

DEAR ABBY: My husband was terminally ill when a GoFundMe account was set up on Facebook to help raise money for his expenses. He has since passed away, and after the medical expenses were paid, there's still quite a bit of money left over. My question is, who does that money belong to? My mother-in-law says the money should be split between me and my stepdaughter. I think the money belongs only to me. Please comment. — MARIA IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR MARIA: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your husband. Before grabbing the money, ask yourself what your husband would want. Would there be any reason not to share it with his daughter? If the answer to that question is no, then listen to your mother-in-law and do as she suggests.

 

DEAR ABBY: I am a 34-year-old man who is somewhat socially awkward. I want to start dating and hopefully find that special someone. The problem is, I have an addiction. It's not to alcohol or drugs, but to online games.

I have been gaming since I was 18, shortly after I joined the military, and it has been the majority of my social interaction. I have avoided friends and family and spent thousands of dollars over the years on this "hobby." I have tried several times to quit. I succeed for a few months, but I always go back, thinking I can play just a little bit. I sincerely want to quit. I don't want to go on like this, but I don't know how to break this cycle.

Until I can sort this out, I don't think I should become involved with anyone else. I feel like if I don't do this now, this is what the rest of my life will be, and it's frightening. Counseling is out of the question because I would have to report it to my job, which could jeopardize my future employment. Is there any advice about how to fix this problem? — LOST IN CYBERSPACE

DEAR LOST: I'm glad you have recognized that your gaming has become a problem and want to do something about it. That's the first step in fixing it.

Video games are the fastest-growing form of media entertainment. Because of the sophisticated technology involved, the games can be addictive, and the social aspects of them can make them a hard habit to break without professional help. Treatment may involve private counseling or even require inpatient care. However, if that is unworkable, On-Line Gamers Anonymous (olganon.org) may be a helpful alternative for you. It is a 12-step program based on the principles of AA. You may want to check it out.

 

DEAR ABBY: My dad recently passed away. It was unexpected. Many people have sent condolences, which was very thoughtful. My problem is, I'm an atheist, and many of them have said things like "He's in a better place now."

I don't mind the prayers accompanied with the condolences. I believe everyone's beliefs should be respected, and the prayers are heartfelt good wishes. I have a huge problem, however, with people basically telling me that Dad is better off dead than alive. That's preposterous! My father is better off here, laughing with his family, enjoying life and playing with his grandchildren.

How do I respond to those people without sounding snarky? I have been biting my tongue so I won't let them know how much it offends me, but I really think people should know that those words in particular are just horrible. — GRIEVING DAUGHTER

DEAR GRIEVING: I'm printing your letter because you are not the first grieving family member to have shared those sentiments with me. But please understand that the subject of death makes many people very uncomfortable, and they don't know what the comforting thing to say is. Readers, it's sufficient to say, "I heard the sad news. I'm so very sorry for your loss." (Period.)