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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am a 36-year-old single man who has boomeranged between living on my own and with my parents during the past three years. Finally, I'm planning on moving to a permanent place of my own.

The problem is my mother appears to deeply resent my leaving. Ever since the moving issue came up, no matter what I do or say, I cannot do anything right by Mom. It's brought out the worst in her.

My new apartment is closer to my job, and it's only 30 miles away, so I will be able to visit my parents often. I understand that Mom has health problems and needs help, but I have five siblings in the area, and I could always be at my folks' quickly to help with any emergency.

Because I am not married nor do I have children, I sometimes think this makes my family feel as if it's my job to take care of our parents. I love them, but these past three years have created resentment and frustration on my part. I feel I would be a healthier person living on my own, but I don't know how to communicate this to Mom. Please help, Abby. This is tearing our relationship apart. -- FRUSTRATED SON IN FLORIDA

DEAR FRUSTRATED SON: Sometimes relationships need to be torn apart before they can be successfully reconstructed. Consider this move a period of growth for you and your mother. You are a loving son who has the right to a life of your own. However, your mother may have greater fears about her health than you realize. Speak to your siblings and urge them to stay closer in touch. She needs reassurance that someone is nearby to help her if she needs assistance.

DEAR ABBY: I have been living with "Jerry" for two years. When we moved in together, we both brought furniture and household items into our new home. I want us to buy a new sofa. Jerry insists on putting his old one into storage instead of getting rid of it. Should I be worried he isn't fully committed to our relationship? -- GOING NOWHERE IN CINCINNATI

DEAR GOING NOWHERE: No. I suspect the old couch holds memories for Jerry that he's reluctant to part with. Time may resolve this problem when he realizes that the fees for storing the couch add up to more than the purchase price.

DEAR ABBY: I have lived with "Fred" on and off for five years. We argue all the time. Last week, I moved out again. Fred gave me an engagement ring for Christmas two years ago, and that same week he asked an old girlfriend to go on vacation with him and his children. Episodes like this have happened more than once since we have been together.

Fred is very friendly with any female he meets, and it drives me crazy. I go back to him because he swears he wants only me, yet we still argue about women, kids, money -- you name it. I know he will never change and wonder if I still love him.

Abby, do you think I should continue counseling, marry Fred, or leave him for good? -- 55 AND CONFUSED IN TULSA

DEAR 55 AND CONFUSED: Continue counseling until you figure out why you keep returning to a ladies man with whom you have so many serious issues. Once you have that figured out, the answer to your question will be obvious.

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