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by Abigail Van Buren

Infant's Birthday Bash Is Too Much, Too Soon

DEAR ABBY: I read your column on the Internet. I'm in a relationship with a great guy. "Ryan" and I have been together for almost five years -- more than half of it long-distance.

This might seem like a little thing, but whenever we talk on the phone or e-mail and say, "I love you," or "I miss you," Ryan always says, "I love you MORE," or "I miss you MORE."

Sometimes I feel hurt and sometimes it makes me angry. When I ask why he says "more," he always says something sweet to deflect it, but my antennae are wiggling like crazy.

I love Ryan and believe he loves me -- but what makes him feel a need to "best" me in this? Am I making too much of a simple statement? -- CONFUSED IN QUITO, ECUADOR

DEAR CONFUSED: Only Ryan can answer your first question. As for your second question, perhaps it's time to stop and analyze why you are put off. Love isn't a contest, and many readers would think they were in heaven if the person they cared about returned their expressions of affection with "ditto, and more so."