DEAR ABBY: I recently had a child with a man who is now incarcerated. I was widowed when I met him, and although he brought me happiness, it has come at a steep price.
I pay for literally everything. I love him very much, but his entitlement was an issue even before he had legal issues. Now he has become very nasty and minimizes everything I do.
If I send $100, he's upset that I didn't send $200. If I have a day off from work that I don't spend communicating with a lawyer and the courts, I'm "not taking initiative." He has even gone so far as to say it was my fault he got in trouble because I was on his case so often that he "had to go out to get some peace." His only redeeming quality is his wonderful relationship with the kids, who see none of our fights and regard him as a father figure.
He is now even more negative and derogatory than when he was at home. I manage a busy restaurant and a household of five children. Since he has been away, I'm ashamed to say life has actually been less stressful.
I think my loneliness when I met him made it easier to ignore red flags. In every other aspect of my life, I am an independent woman who has the respect of my peers. Is it too late to set boundaries with him? — GROWING IN FLORIDA
DEAR GROWING: This emotionally abusive individual is milking you like you are a Guernsey cow. His ingratitude is boundless. You are not the reason he got himself in trouble with the law, and it isn't your responsibility to get him out or support him financially.
It is way too late to set boundaries with this manipulative ingrate. He won't change. What you must do now — for your own sake and for your children's — is tell him you are finished and cut ties with him.
DEAR ABBY: I live in Kansas and my boyfriend lives in another state. We talk online all the time, but I haven't heard from him in three days and I don't know what to think. My friends say I'm being paranoid, but I can't help but think that he might be seeing another girl. I've had problems like this before and ended up getting hurt because I didn't listen when my friends told me that a guy was cheating. What should I do? — LONG-DISTANCE LOVE
DEAR L.D.L.: Recognize that as much as two people might care about each other, long-distance romances don't always have fairytale endings. I don't know if your boyfriend is cheating. Neither do you and neither do your friends.
It's time for you to have a calm conversation with your boyfriend. Tell him you were worried by his three-day silence because it was unusual. Let him respond. If you are satisfied with his answer, change the subject. However, if you aren't, ask him if he has met someone closer to home and tell him to level with you. It takes courage to do this, but it will save you a lot of pain in the long run.
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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable — and most frequently requested — poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby — Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.