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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Thank you for the "scorpion and the frog" story. I'm 23 years old and a single mom. I have been involved for four years with a man who has been living with someone. He keeps telling me that when God gives him a sign, we will live together.

As soon as I read your column today I knew you were right. So, today is the day that I swim alone.

I hope you'll consider printing this, Abby. So many young women out there are in the same position as I have been. As young women, we have to be strong and look inside for the strength to swim alone, because once we are strong we will attract others who are strong. And that's when Prince Charming will come along. I'm convinced of it.

Thank you again for discussing this heart-wrenching topic. It did me a world of good. -- SWIMMING STRONG IN PUYALLUP, WASH.

DEAR SWIMMING: I may have sounded the wake-up call, but you were intelligent enough to hear it and know it was meant for you. Once you have told this two-timing Romeo goodbye, your chances of finding a worthwhile, unattached companion will increase a hundredfold. The problem with expending all your energy on someone who is already involved is that it prevents you from finding someone who is available. I wish you and your child the best of luck.

Your analogy of "swimming" reminds me of a classic letter that appeared in my column years ago. I'm sure you'll identify with the message that's conveyed:

DEAR ABBY: I have been married for 12 years, and I've always felt that my husband thought more of his mother than he did of me -- so I decided to ask him. I put it this way: I said, "Honey, if your mother and I were in a canoe, and the canoe tipped over and we were both drowning, and you could save only one of us, which one would you save?"

Abby, he had the nerve to say, "I think I'd save my mother, because I owe her more"!

I'm so hurt. What should I do? -- ARLENE

DEAR ARLENE: Learn to swim!

DEAR ABBY: After reading the letter from "Ex-Mistress in Massachusetts," I had to write to correct an often-made mistake. She said that cheating husbands often claim they aren't sleeping with their wives, but somehow the wives become pregnant anyway. She then jokingly asked if these pregnancies occur through an "Immaculate Conception."

Abby, according to Christianity, Immaculate Conception does not refer to virgin birth, as in Mary giving birth to Jesus. The Immaculate Conception refers to Mary's having been born without the stain of sin (original sin). I am amazed at how many people confuse the two. -- EX-SEMINARIAN IN VENTURA, CALIF.

DEAR EX-SEMINARIAN: So am I. In years past, this has been pointed out to me, and I'm sorry I didn't catch it.

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