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I caught my friend going through my stuff

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DEAR ABBY: A good friend takes care of my house when I travel several times a year. It includes picking up my mail, watering my indoor and outdoor plants, and searching the house for anything that needs attention in my absence. I give her something back every time she’s out of town. I don’t have anyone else near where I live that can do this for me.

The problem is, when she’s here, she’s rummaging through my stuff. I know because I keep things in a certain order (I’m neat and organized), and it’s very noticeable when my belongings are rearranged. It bothers me because it’s an invasion of my privacy and just plain wrong. I would never think of doing this at her house. I don’t feel like seeing her personal stuff.

Over the years of our friendship, this person has become increasingly possessive and clingy to the point of being uncomfortable. I overlooked it so as not to hurt her feelings. How do I handle this? Do I keep confidential paperwork under lock and key and leave everything else for her to rummage through? If I tell her I know what she’s doing, I’m afraid she’ll refuse to help me any longer. — TRAVELER IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR TRAVELER: There are workarounds for your travel schedule. You can let the post office keep your mail until you return. If you live in Connecticut, your outdoor plants are probably dormant during the winter. Inquire at your local nursery about moisture-wicking devices to ensure your houseplants are getting enough water.

Since this “girlfriend” can’t resist rummaging through your personal items, ask for your key back if she has it (or change the locks on your doors) and kindly tell her that her help is no longer needed. It goes without saying that all financial records should have been under lock and key to avoid prying eyes once you realized they were skewed. Please consider it, and if you do, reconsider the friendship.

DEAR ABBY: I have been going to an excellent hairdresser for a year and a half. The problem is she doesn’t want me to have color on my hair. She wants me to let my hair go gray. I abhor the idea. She keeps insisting it’s “so beautiful,” and she won’t let it go. On my last visit, it almost made her belligerent. She said she expected me to stop asking for color now.

She dyes her hair in a beautiful shade of red. When I asked her about it, she said “she had a right because she was born that color.” It is very difficult to find a hairdresser who knows how to cut my hair. Why do you think this has become such an obsession with her, and what should I do? — HATE THE GREY

BEST HATE: What you have to do is Take control. It is the job of a hair stylist or cosmetologist to give the clients what they want if it is possible. Tell that nervous woman that you don’t want her to broach the subject of making your hair go gray again because if she does, she will lose you as a customer. And then continue.

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

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