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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am 32 years old and people say I am very attractive. A year ago I started seeing "Alex." He was everything I ever wanted -- handsome, intelligent, successful. We were together almost every night, and he even started talking about marriage.

Then last month, out of the blue, he announced that he thinks we're getting "too serious" and we should both start seeing other people. That was the beginning of the end. It's like a bad dream. I can't stop crying. I'm in sales and my job requires my full attention, but I'm in a fog.

My eating is out of control. The night before last, I ate a whole barbecue chicken, a large pizza and three cheese Danishes. Tonight I consumed a pint of ice cream and almost a whole bag of cookies. My stomach hurt so bad I couldn't finish the cookies.

Abby, I dial his phone number 15 to 20 times a day just to hear his voice -- then I hang up. I'm sure he knows it's me. I'm humiliated he would dump me like this. How can I get him back? I love him! -- OUT OF CONTROL IN LOS ANGELES

DEAR OUT OF CONTROL: You may not be able to get him back, but you must regain control of your feelings and behavior. What you describe isn't "love," it's compulsive behavior. Dr. Susan Forward has written a book for people who can't let go of relationships that aren't working (or have ended) and find themselves feeling out of control. It's titled "Obsessive Love" (Bantam). Pick up a copy and read it. It will help you shift from pain and anxiety to healthy patterns of healing/recovery. Good luck.

DEAR ABBY: I am the man who found the $42 in the glove compartment of the secondhand car I had recently purchased. And I am married to a woman of good character in Anchorage, Alaska. Here is the rest of the story:

Since pocketing the $42, I have put that much (and more) into this vehicle, after replacing the brakes and a computer part, and being towed twice. I find I am now $550 in the hole -- minus the $42.

Rabbi Botnick related the parable about the rabbi whose students had bought him a donkey to help him in his business of selling flax. The students were amazed to find a precious pearl attached to the neck of the donkey, whereupon they informed the rabbi that he could retire -- a rich man!

The rabbi responded, "I bought a donkey, not a pearl," and he promptly returned the pearl.

I have to wonder if the pearl would have been returned if the donkey had come up lame the next day. I expect your response will be similar to my wife's -- that the car trouble may have been a consequence of my action.

I don't buy that -- and I'm not returning the money! -- THE HUSBAND OF THE WOMAN OF GOOD CHARACTER

DEAR HUSBAND: Only a fool would buy a donkey without carefully examining it to make sure it wasn't lame. And only a fool would buy a secondhand car without having it examined first by an automotive mechanic.

Most teen-agers do not know the facts about drugs, AIDS, and how to prevent unwanted pregnancy. It's all in Abby's new, updated, expanded booklet, "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

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