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DEAR ABBY: My teenage sister and I both live at home with our single mom. Lately she has been acting like a teen in love -- giddy, staying out late, and hiding to take her phone calls. We have even caught her kissing this man, "Gary."

Mom denies any romantic relationship with Gary, who is married with children. But when his name comes up, she talks endlessly about how mean and horrible his wife is. Mom has never met his wife, so she must be getting her information from Gary.

We overheard him tell Mom that his wife had found his cell phone bill and knew that he was calling Mom a lot. So last month, Mom bought Gary another cell phone. We can't afford that! We struggle to pay our bills, and my sister and I have loaned Mom money for her car insurance.

Mom has often expressed a fear of being alone. We are happy that she is feeling good about herself and dating again, but with Gary, she's headed for trouble. We don't want her hurt. How can we help? -- WORRIED ABOUT MOM IN VIRGINIA

DEAR WORRIED: Be there to offer emotional support, because your mother is on thin ice. Gary's wife is already suspicious, and it's only a matter of time until he gets caught. The situation is bad. Your mother is lying to herself, lying to you, and setting a terrible example. Learn from her mistakes.

DEAR ABBY: I have been living with "Adrian" for eight years -- and he still doesn't want to commit to anything other than living together. I have tried explaining the issues of security, honor and respect, and the fact that I have proven I'm a worthy partner and deserve to be his wife.

Adrian is 45 and was married once. I am 39 and have been divorced twice. He uses my divorces as justification for not wanting to give up his independence.

He recently bought a new home. It is solely in his name because I couldn't afford to help with the closing costs or pay half the mortgage payment. I have a good job and contribute to all our bills. I am not looking for a free ride and have always been willing to pay my own way. After eight years, I do not have one joint bill nor do I own any thing with him jointly.

When I try to discuss marriage with Adrian, he becomes angry and verbally abusive. Is this how you treat somebody you love? I feel I'm being punished for wanting a future with him. Please give me some sound advice. -- WANTS RESPECT IN MARYLAND

DEAR WANTS RESPECT: You are an intelligent woman. You fail to see the security in this relationship because there is none. Meanwhile, Adrian is sitting in clover. For eight years he has enjoyed the benefits of a roommate and bed partner. If you protest, he keeps you in line by becoming abusive. Does that sound like love to you?

Ask yourself, Why have I tolerated the situation for so long? If it's a secure future you want, you won't find it with Adrian. He has already demonstrated that the only things he "loves" are himself and his tangible assets. If you leave you'll be available to meet someone who can give you a secure future. Please don't wait. Pack your bags now.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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