DEAR ABBY: I have been dating a divorced man, "Chris," for four years. He has a son who is 16. On the weekends that Chris has his son, I become the "invisible girlfriend." Sometimes the three of us will go to a movie or out to eat, but I am never welcome to spend the night.
Chris and I have talked about living together, but never in depth. Unless I bring it up, he never says anything about it. When Valentine's Day came around, Chris asked if we could celebrate it a few days late because he was scheduled to have his son that night.
I am beginning to think there is no future with Chris. He seems fine just dating and seeing me every other weekend as someone to hang out with, but not to commit to. Suggestions?
- Dismissed in Denver
DEAR DISMISSED: If romance and marriage are what you're looking for, I suggest you stop asking Chris about living together and ask instead about whether the two of you have a future. Chris has been treating you like a friend with benefits for four years. The pattern is set and it isn't likely to change by itself.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 15-year-old girl who has two younger brothers. My parents are good people, but they can be extremely harsh and cruel. They curse us out and scream at us for petty things almost every day. I told my best friend about it and she said that it is emotional abuse. I have been suffering this almost my entire life. Am I being emotionally abused?
- Tired of the Tirades
DEAR TIRED: The answer to your question is yes, your friend is correct. The problem with this kind of abuse - as opposed to physical abuse - is that although it is damaging, it is often not taken seriously. If there are family members or close friends who can intervene by helping your parents to see how damaging their lack of control is - and convince them to get help - then you should confide in them.