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by Abigail Van Buren

Rumor of Affair Clouds Woman's Return to Work

DEAR ABBY: I have been stuck at home on worker's comp for a year, but will be returning to my job in a few days. Unfortunately, a rumor has gone around at work that my fiance (who is also employed there) is having an affair with one of our co-workers.

This woman visits our home regularly and has been a friend to both of us. The rumor stems from the fact that people at work see my fiance and her joking and playing around, and assume they have something going on -- especially since I'm not there.

Abby, I know that nothing is going on between them. My fiance is devoted to me, and we have a perfect, loving relationship.

My question: What, if anything, should I do about this rumor? When I'm back on the scene, I'm afraid it's going to make our working environment uncomfortable for all three of us. I want these people to know that the rumor is not true, and they should mind their own business. -- ANXIOUS IN NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y.

DEAR ANXIOUS: Do nothing about the rumor. To bring it up will only fuel the gossip. If someone mentions it, say you've already heard about it and then change the subject. When you're back on the scene, interacting normally with both your fiance and your co-worker, the rumor should die a natural death.

DEAR ABBY: Your response to "Hopeful in Kentucky," the man whose wife is a gambler, was right on the money. Pathological gambling was first identified as a mental disorder in 1980. According to the American Psychiatric Association, pathological gambling can be identified if a person exhibits at least five of the following 10 symptoms:

(1) Is preoccupied with gambling.

(2) Tries unsuccessfully to control, cut back or stop.

(3) Gambles with increasing amounts of money.

(4) Becomes restless or irritable when attempting to cut back or stop.

(5) Gambles as a way of escaping problems or relieving feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety or depression.

(6) After losing money gambling, often returns to get even.

(7) Lies to family members, therapists or others to conceal the extent of gambling.

(8) Commits illegal acts such as forgery, fraud, theft or embezzlement to finance gambling.

(9) Jeopardizes or loses a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of gambling.

(10) Relies on others to provide money to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling. -- ERIC GEFFNER, PH.D., CERTIFIED COMPULSIVE GAMBLER COUNSELOR, BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF.

DEAR DR. GEFFNER: After that letter appeared, several readers wrote to point out that people with gambling problems should contact Gamblers Anonymous, P.O. Box 17173, Los Angeles, CA 90017, or call (213) 386-8789. The Web site is:

Also, the National Council on Compulsive Gambling, a nonprofit organization, refers gamblers to qualified mental health professionals who have been trained to work with gamblers and their families. The hotline number is: 1-800-522-4700.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "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, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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