Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I was in a relationship for nine months. It didn't work out. Now it seems like every guy I'm attracted to turns out to be a real jerk. After they kiss me, I fall for them, but they don't fall back.

There is this guy I have liked for several years. He has already made it clear that he wants to kiss me. I'm afraid that if he does, I'll fall for him, but he won't fall for me. What should I do? -- DUMPED IN PITTSBURG, KAN.

DEAR DUMPED: Your problem is that you become attached before you know who those boys are. Slow down. Tell this young man that you'd prefer he get to know you before the kissing starts. Until then, make sure that when you see him, there are other people around -- so it's not so easy to become amorous. If he continues to show an interest, chances are you won't lose him if you kiss him.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 39-year-old married woman with a loving husband who would never cheat on me. I have been having an affair for the last eight years. The other man, "John," is also married, and he has a family. I met John at my part-time job, and he also works with my husband.

Four months ago, I decided I needed to be faithful to my husband and I ended the affair. John has now begun having an affair with one of my co-workers, a woman I consider to be a trashy person. This has hurt me terribly. When I see them, I feel like telling his wife everything -- but this would only endanger my marriage, and I don't want to hurt my husband. Abby, help me get over this affair. -- CAN'T STOP HURTING

DEAR HURTING: What goes around usually comes around, sooner or later. Your "trashy" co-worker will get burned, so be patient and resist the urge to inflict pain. Your former lover is a serial cheater. The ultimate victims are his wife and children, not you. The quickest way to get over the affair is to find another job, realize how lucky you are that your marriage is still intact, and concentrate your energies on your husband and your future.

DEAR ABBY: Our friend, "Jake," and my husband have helped each other out for years. Jake repairs our cars; my husband helps him out with his computer needs.

The last time we had trouble with our car, Jake said he'd look at it. He called later and said we needed new brakes, some adjustments, and that some of the fluids needed to be changed. He estimated the cost would be about $200.

When Jake finished the repairs, he brought our car back (instead of our picking it up like we usually do) and left a bill in the car for $400 -- $100 for brakes and fluids, $300 for labor.

We were shocked. Jake never charged for his labor before, and my husband has never charged Jake for working on his computer. We contacted a nearby auto repair shop to compare prices, and they quoted less than Jake charged us. Now we don't know what to say or do. Help! -- BARTERING BLUES

DEAR BARTERING: Too bad Jake didn't warn you in advance that he was renegotiating the arrangement. Give him his money, and in the future, charge for any help he requests for his computer. You don't have to end the friendship -- just take a giant step backward and take nothing for granted.

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.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600