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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Waiting in Wings Is Ready for Main Stage

DEAR ABBY: "Mitch" and I have been best-friends-with-benefits for nine years. He has a live-in girlfriend, "Edna," and they have an 11-month-old son together. The two of them are always fighting and yelling, and I'm always the peacemaker. I helped in raising their child so often that the boy called me Mom before he said it to Edna.

Two years ago, I told Mitch I wanted to be with him -- something more than just his girl on the side. He said he already knew it, but had been waiting for me to say it. He said he felt the same way, but he wasn't ready to go from one relationship to another.

When I first told him how I felt, he told me not to wait for him. He said if I did find someone, I shouldn't hold back because of him. When I finally did meet and date someone, Mitch got into an uproar about it and said he didn't like the guy. I ended the relationship to please him.

So here I sit, committed to someone who can't do the same for me, and feeling confused and lonely. I believe I am in love with Mitch. We still have a sexual relationship. I have tried to cool things down, but when I see Mitch, I just melt. Do you think he means what he says, or is he just telling me what I want to hear for what he can get? -- MISERABLE IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR MIZ: Let's review what Mitch has been saying: He said he has known for years that you're in love with him. He also told you not to wait for him. If Mitch loved you, do you really think he'd be living with someone else and telling you to move on? I don't.

Now let's look at what Mitch has been getting: He has someone who has continued to sleep with him in spite of the fact that he lives with someone else and fathered a child with her. On top of that, you're a free baby sitter and peacemaker. Enough about what he's getting. All you're getting is heartache.

I'll give Mitch high marks for salesmanship. But you shouldn't "buy" everything he sells you.