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CONNECTIONS CAN SHORT CIRCUIT

Dear Abby: I met a great guy two years ago. We have a lot in common. We both love family, our cultures and people in general. We're both compassionate. We care about each other, communicate often via e-mail and see each other a couple of times a year. This may sound like a cliche, but we connect on a "different" level. He understands me.

We aren't dating, but we're both interested in being together. There are few people in my life that I can truly say I have made an honest connection with, as opposed to something silly or a pipe dream. I know intimacy changes everything. He's the one person in my life I have wanted to share that with. I don't want to sound slutty, because he and I are not in a relationship. I know that makes things tough -- sex with no strings attached. What are your thoughts?

-- "Connected" in Erie, Pa.
Dear "Connected": Sex without strings is sex with no commitment and little, if any, affection for the other party. Why, if you both feel this "connection," are you NOT dating? If your feelings are one-sided, you are heading for a painful fall. You're contemplating having sex on the gamble that the object of your affections will fall in love with you afterward. According to the mail I receive from both men and women, it doesn't usually turn out that way.

Stay-at-home daughter

Dear Abby: I have a 26-year-old daughter who has been living with me for more than a year. She and her boyfriend, who is 30, both have jobs. However, they don't pay bills or buy food. My utility bills are sky-high because they use a lot of electricity for video games, their computer and sound-surround systems.

My daughter has two sons, 6 and 10; I have custody of the 10-year-old, "Adam." I am trying to give Adam a better life with security. I don't want my grandsons to hate me, but I am feeling very used. When I say anything, my daughter gets mad at me and tells the 6-year-old that I don't love them and I'm making them move. Of course, this makes Adam mad at me because I am "breaking up the family."

I love my daughter, Abby, but I am really at the end of my rope. By the way, she's expecting another baby in July. What should I do? I'm afraid I may have to do something legal.

-- Stranger in My Own Home
Dear Stranger: Unless you want to lose your home, do not move out and depend on your daughter and her boyfriend to take responsibility for paying the mortgage. Your daughter is using you and shamelessly manipulating her children. The longer you tolerate this, the longer it will continue and the worse it will get. For Adam's sake and your own sanity, please discuss this with your lawyer. It may, indeed, take legal action -- or the threat of it -- to get these freeloaders out of your house.

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