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. 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.
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.)