Dear Abby

Dear Abby


Dear Abby: I hate being touched — but people act like it’s a joke

DEAR ABBY: I am uncomfortable about being touched. I have been this way all my life. As a child, my parents forced me to hug and kiss relatives, and if I protested, I was reprimanded. I remember being dragged and pushed toward people. 

After I became an adult, I decided to tell people I no longer want to be hugged or kissed. While most people respect that, my parents do not. They hug me even more often now, and think it’s funny. They laugh as they do it and say, “Oh, you don’t like this, do you?!” 

When I protest, they start with the guilt trip, telling me they are my parents and they are allowed to touch me. My mother gives an exaggerated sigh and looks down like a child who’s been deprived of a toy. 

They can’t get it through their heads that this is about me, and not them. They have told me that I’ve “gone weird,” but this isn’t something new. As a child, I couldn’t speak up because I was chastised for it. How can I get them to respect my boundaries? I don’t want to start a feud, as they are good to me in every other way, but I’m starting to dread seeing them. — KEEP OFF IN SCOTLAND

DEAR KEEP OFF: Some parents don’t understand that what they do can affect their children for the rest of their lives. Your parents are a prime example. 

A way to get the message across to them would be to explain it to them just as you have to me: You were young and defenseless, and in spite of your protests, they forced you into physical contact with people. Tell them you realize that it had everything to do with their egos and how they wanted you to be perceived instead of accepted as the individual you were and are. NO ONE has the right to touch you if you do not want to be touched. 

If your parents continue forcing their physical demonstrations of “affection” (which seem to me more like demonstrations of dominance) over your protests, recognize it for what it is — a mild form of sadism (no, I’m not kidding). See them less often, and be sure they know why.

DEAR ABBY: I’m in my 30s, and my father recently remarried. I have no negative feelings about his new wife or their marriage. But now he has forgotten to wish me a happy birthday and speaks to me less often. They seem to always have plans, and he no longer has time to stop by for even a few minutes to say hi to his grandkids. 

I don’t want to burden him. I’m happy he has found the love he deserves. I just always assumed I would still be in the picture. Should I tell him I really need to spend time with him, or am I now too old for the father/daughter moments? — RECONNECTING IN TEXAS

DEAR RECONNECTING: No one who is lucky enough to have a father on this side of the sod is “too old” for father/daughter or father/son moments. I see no harm in telling your father you are happy he has found love again, but that you wish he would schedule some time to see you and the grandchildren. He may be distracted now by the honeymoon phase of his new marriage, so be prepared to be patient.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.