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DEAR ABBY: I am a 36-year-old female. I have been dating this guy I'll call "Louie" for more than two years. He never told me he had anyone else. But one day he let it slip that he had been living with this woman, "Grace," for more than 10 years.

I'm not the type to break up a home. Had I known, I never would have dated him. By the time I found out, I was in love with Louie, and he said he felt the same about me.

I never knew exactly where Louie lived or had his home phone number, but I did have his cell phone number. Whenever I'd call, it was either turned off or he wouldn't answer. Finally, I called information and got his home number, but I have never used it.

Now, two years later, we have a child together. None of his family members know about our little girl. He says he does not want anyone to know right now -- especially Grace. He says she would leave him, take half his belongings and sue him for alimony.

He has given me less than $360 in child support since I gave birth. Louie says if I sue him for child support, things will get nasty. He says he will make my life a living hell. I hardly ever see him anymore. What is a woman supposed to do? I think he's afraid of Grace. I want to sue him for child support, and I have the papers filled out and sealed, but haven't mailed them yet for fear of what Louie might do. Please help me. -- CONFUSED IN TEXAS

DEAR CONFUSED: By now, I hope you realize that the father of your child is married. There were many flashing red lights in your romance with Louie -- the first ones being that you didn't know where he lived and his unwillingness to give you a working phone number. That's when you should have refused to become further involved.

I urge you to mail the papers you have filled out to the court TODAY. Do it for your little girl, because it's the only way her deadbeat father will meet his obligations to her. Do not be surprised when Louie pretends to be the injured party. During this entire time he has thought only about himself. Also, because he has threatened you, you need a lawyer to advise you. You may have to go to the police to make sure his threats are on record. It's a first step to getting a restraining order should you need one.

DEAR ABBY: For the last year I have been involved with a lovely woman who has been separated from her husband for two years. Although she seems to care a lot for me and my son, she has not yet accepted my proposal of marriage.

Her husband comes around several times a month to do work around the house and even balances her checkbook for her. They own several pieces of property together and both have good incomes.

I have expressed my concern about what is keeping her from going ahead with a divorce. She claims she's waiting for her husband to file -- and he's not ready yet! I say they're both hanging on to each other because neither of them is ready to move on with their lives. Should I wait? Or should I give up and hope to meet someone who is available for a nice guy who has a lot of love to share? -- PATIENT IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR PATIENT: Your lady friend may be separated, but she sounds very married to me. If she were in love with you, she would have already gone ahead with her divorce. My advice to you is to move on. At the rate this romance is going, you could wait forever.

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