DEAR ABBY: I need some relationship advice. How do you handle household expenses with a partner?
My boyfriend and I have been in a relationship for 10 years. In all this time, he has never once split any of the expenses with me. I pay for everything. He does buy groceries, although not all of them. He also helps around the house and with my daughter.
If I bring up the issue of sharing expenses, it turns into a fight. He says he's "sorry" he doesn't make enough money. Then he says all that matters to me is money and threatens to move out.
I feel completely taken advantage of because he does have the money to make $300-plus monthly payments for his new boat that's sitting in my garage. To me it's all about priorities. I would like a new car, but I have other monthly bills to pay.
Is it just me, or is this unfair? — UP TO HERE WITH IT IN SOUTH DAKOTA
DEAR UP TO HERE: It's not just you. You have been carrying the lion's share of the load. But unless you are finally ready to insist upon a new arrangement with this man — who has had it pretty good for the last 10 YEARS — nothing will change.
It's time to ask yourself whether what he does contribute — on every level — is enough to satisfy you. If it isn't, be prepared to tell him you need to find an equal partner, and if he's unwilling to be that person, he should move.
DEAR ABBY: Four years ago I had major affection for a man. We talked every chance we could. We arranged times we could sit together and just talk. There was lots of flirting, eye contact, and this overwhelming feeling of bliss — butterflies in the stomach — all of that.
The problem was he was married. Once I realized it, I was devastated because I understood what I wanted could never be. I feel so lost. I'm now considering going to counseling.
I still hear from others that he mentions me or says he misses me, but this is old news. Now there's someone else, and it's the same problem — just a different setting.
I feel so guilty for crushing on unattainable men. What's wrong with me? Why can't I like someone who is available? I've liked guys my own age before, and ones who were single, but there's something exciting about older unavailable men.
I don't want to feel this way, but I know that when I try to fight these feelings they just become stronger. I won't act on them, but I wish I could change them. How can I? — FEELING GUILTY IN OHIO
DEAR FEELING GUILTY: The quickest way to do that would be to talk about these feelings with a licensed mental health professional. When you do, be prepared to touch on all of your relationships with men, including your father — who is usually the first "unattainable" man with whom a little girl falls in love. I am pretty sure you will find that conversation illuminating.
Once you understand your feelings, it may be easier for you to find a man who is truly available — if a relationship beyond a mad flirtation is what you really want, that is.