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by Abigail Van Buren

Old Girlfriend Is Burden for Man With New Wife

DEAR ABBY: I have recently married a wonderful woman whom I consider the girl of my dreams, and I don't want to spoil what we have together.

My problem is an old girlfriend from my college days. Throughout the years, we have remained in contact, mostly because of her persistence. I've wanted to cut the string with this woman for years, but I didn't want to hurt her feelings and saw no harm in maintaining a long-distance friendship, although her dependency on me and her references to me as her "soul mate" have concerned me.

I was relieved when she finally married, but after her marriage came letters and phone calls, complaining about her husband and asking me for advice. She has told me intimate details about him, and frankly, I don't want to share this kind of information about her with my wife. She treats my wife with disregard, sending letters addressed only to me. Her only references to my marriage are the ones that blame it for the lack of communication between us.

Although I once had affection for her, I no longer want this woman in my life, but this decision makes me feel like a heel. Abby, is a man a heel for wanting to put to rest an old relationship?

Have you any suggestions for ending this friendship once and for all? Ignoring her phone messages and letters hasn't seemed to work, and my wife's patience is wearing thin. -- WEARY IN THE WEST

DEAR WEARY: I suggest you TELL this woman that you no longer want to have any communication with her. Then, if her letters and phone calls persist, ask your attorney to explain to her what the word "harassment" means.

DEAR ABBY: Last summer, I was touched by a simple act of kindness from a stranger in a park.

I had gone to New York from California to visit my boyfriend, but by the third day, it was obvious that he didn't want me there.

Overwhelmed with pain and disappointment, I left his apartment and walked down the Manhattan streets, ending up in a park. I sat down and began to cry, thinking to myself, "Everyone says that people in New York don't care, and no one will notice me."

A few moments later, an elderly gentleman walked over and introduced himself. He said he had been sitting across from me, and asked what could be making me so sad. Through my tears, I poured out my heartbreak -- I told him everything. He listened for a long time and then he spoke. "You are a beautiful woman. Your boyfriend doesn't realize what he has. Anyone who would treat you that way isn't worth your time." Then he gave me a hug -- a long, wonderful hug.

This caring, genuine man was like a guardian angel. He gave me the strength to walk back with my head held high, talk to my boyfriend, and feel strong enough to leave the next day.

I will never forget the man in the park. Sometimes perfect strangers show more kindness than one ever expects. -- B.J. IN CALIFORNIA

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