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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Recently I've noticed how much I have been lying to people about little things, when the lie does not in any way benefit me.

For instance, if I am asked what I've been doing, I will lie, even though the answer is no more glamorous than the truth. Yesterday, I told someone I had to stop and get gas before going home, even though I knew I was going straight home.

I once heard someone who had been abused as a child say that she started lying about everything in order to feel that she was in control of the situation. Abby, I have never been abused, and I don't know why I lie so much. It's really been bad the last year, but the lie is always out of my mouth before I realize it.

I'm sure the people I lie to know that I am lying, so why do I feel so powerless to stop? Could this have anything to do with the fact that I am in an unhappy relationship and want out? -- CHRONIC LIAR

DEAR CHRONIC LIAR: Your last sentence could be a clue. You are not happy with things the way they are, so even though that which you lie about is of no consequence, at least it's not reality, which you dislike.

A psychotherapist could help you get to the root of this. If you are not already acquainted with one, ask your physician for a referral -- or contact your county mental health department.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 22-year-old college student with plans to graduate in December. I have been dating the same guy for almost five years. He is out of college now and has a steady job.

My problem is that I want to get married. I would even settle for an engagement ring or some sort of promise of marriage after I graduate from college. My boyfriend is 27 years old and keeps saying we'll get married someday (when I bring it up); otherwise, he never mentions it. He says it would be fine if we just lived together because we need to be "soul mates" first.

I used to believe that living together was a good idea, but I don't think so anymore. I truly love this man and want to be his wife.

Please help me, Abby. Am I wasting my time? He says he feels like I'm pressuring him. What should I do? -- RUNNING IN PLACE

DEAR RUNNING: When a man tells you that he feels like you're pressuring him -- trust me, you are pressuring him. Back off. Then tell him you think it might be a good idea if you two cooled it for a while, and maybe if you dated other people you could get a better perspective on your relationship. If he agrees, that's what you should do. If not, say nothing more about marriage until after graduation.

DEAR ABBY: I would like to reply to "Real Adoptive Parents" who need an answer to the question, "Are your children REAL brother and sister?"

As the mother of two adopted Korean children, I am asked that question frequently, and my stock reply is: "They are now!" -- A "REAL" MOM

People are eating them up! For Abby's favorite recipes, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

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