Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: I have been dating "Lance" for about two years now. We communicate well, have great chemistry and are very affectionate with each other. Lance is kind, creative (he's an artist) and considerate. However, he lacks ambition.

I'm a big thinker who wants big things in life. I have traveled extensively and am very involved in the world of academia. Lance works in a bar three nights a week and plays video games when I'm not around. I know from our conversations that he is intelligent and capable of doing so much more.

Is there any way to motivate him without nagging? I feel I may be selling myself short by being with someone who is content to sit on the couch. On the other hand, I have dated more ambitious men who turned out to be jerks. Must women have to choose between nice guys who finish last and dominating power mongers? -- ASKING TOO MUCH? IN SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR ASKING TOO MUCH?: The male sex is not divided into two categories -- nice guys who finish last and power mongers. If you look around, you will see there are control freaks who finish last, and nice men who work hard at their jobs or professions and are successful.

If you feel you are selling yourself short by being with Lance, then you probably are. If you would like to motivate him, tell him you think you need to be with someone who has more direction in life. If that doesn't galvanize him to action, nothing will.

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DEAR ABBY: After being in a four-year relationship with an alcoholic who was emotionally, verbally and at times physically abusive, I got out. I have moved back with my parents to save money so I can get my own place. When I told my mother about some of the incidents that happened, she said, "I know how you can be." My father seemed more supportive -- until recently.

My ex has a son I grew close to, as did my parents. Last week, I found out my ex had contacted them and his son will be coming here for a visit. Abby, I don't want my ex to know anything about my current life! I'm afraid he's trying to manipulate and torment me while I try to move forward.

I feel hurt and angry at my parents for not respecting my feelings. I can't seem to get through to my mom, and Dad just looked at me and said, "Well, you're the one who stayed for so long!" I don't know if I can forgive them for this. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. -- HURT DAUGHTER IN MASSACHUSETTS

DEAR HURT DAUGHTER: I'll try. When people are attracted to -- and stay with -- a partner who is emotionally, verbally and sometimes physically abusive, it's sometimes because there was dysfunction in their upbringing. You don't say how long you have been staying with your parents, but if there is no alternative, you need to stick to your plan and stay until you have enough money to rent a place of your own.

When the boy arrives, greet him warmly and spend as little time there as possible. Give him no information about your work or your social life other than to say you are doing fine and are very happy. And as soon as you have enough money to establish some independence, get out of there.

P.S. If you haven't already joined an Al-Anon group, I recommend it. Attend some meetings before the boy arrives, and don't keep that a secret while he's there.

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