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DEAR ABBY: I was in a relationship for 12 years. "Jenny" was my best friend. I had to end our relationship because she had allowed her mother to destroy it.

Jenny is 35 and her mother cooks, cleans, does her laundry and makes her bed for her. I would return from work and find her mother sleeping next to her in bed every day. It seemed to me to be her way of putting a wedge in between us.

If we went to a concert, we had to buy three tickets because Jenny always had to bring her mother. When I would ask Jenny out to dinner, she would say, "Can Mom come?" Is this normal? If we had an argument, her mother would get involved and it would become two against one, and I would always be in the wrong. Nothing I did was right.

Since we broke up, Jenny doesn't speak to me. I lost my best friend, and I don't know what to do. -- THREE'S TOO MUCH COMPANY

DEAR TOO MUCH COMPANY: Jenny's primary relationship was -- and probably forever will be -- with her mother. You may have felt that Jenny was your best friend, but Jenny's best friend is her mother -- a bond that her mother works very hard to keep intact. Accept it, expand your social circle and move on. That's all you can do because Jenny is taken.


DEAR ABBY: I hope you will let me unload on you. I lost my much-loved cat a year ago and would like to get another pet, but I cannot afford it.

Having been in business, there are some costs I can understand, such as vet care, grooming and kennel fees if a trip is planned. But the pharmaceutical prices are simply unaffordable, with vaccinations, flea medicine and meds when the pet is sick -- not to mention end-of-life care. I cannot put a pet down just because it is old.

I am elderly and, while not rich, I do get by. But I cannot afford pet insurance, either. I am a widow, and a pet would be a great comfort to me. Any ideas? -- MONA IN YUBA CITY, CALIF.

DEAR MONA: Have you considered fostering a cat while an animal rescue group finds a permanent home for it? Contact some in your area and ask whether they cover the cost of veterinary expenses while the cat is staying with you. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that they do.

Also, contact a no-kill shelter and inquire if it's possible to foster a pet or to volunteer there. In addition to the gratification you will get from having a furry houseguest, you will be doing the kitty a huge favor.

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DEAR ABBY: I am 64 and my live-in fiance is 73. He has no retirement or savings. He has a winter job he loves and works occasionally in the summer. We will not marry so we can keep our finances separate, and he has contributed one-fifth toward my home.

My problem is he wants to go out to dinner all the time. I suggest that we eat at home to save money, which is also more healthy. We have upcoming roof and boiler expenses that he won't be able to contribute to. Any suggestions? -- MONEY MANAGEMENT IN COLORADO

DEAR M.M.: Just this. Point out to your fiance that because of the upcoming maintenance expenses, eating out as often as he wants is more than you can manage, and tell him that if he wants to eat out, he will be the one paying for it. Summer is here now, and he should arrange his work schedule so he can afford it.

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