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by Abigail Van Buren

Childhood Friend Has Grown Too Adult for Her Roommate

DEAR ABBY: I moved to a small town a few years ago to take a job in a very public position. This is a place where everyone knows everyone else's business, so I try hard to maintain a good reputation.

About a year ago, a childhood friend, "Lindsay," came to visit. She loved the town so much she decided to move here and be my roommate.

At first I was excited at the prospect, but my enthusiasm has waned since finding out that Lindsay is very promiscuous. Since January she has had sex with seven men, sometimes dating more than one at a time.

I worry about her because this behavior is unhealthy. I also worry that associating with her could damage my reputation, not to mention my uneasiness about waking up and finding strange men in my apartment -- some of whom she met only the night before. I think she is compromising both of our safety.

How can I handle this tactfully? Lindsay is an adult; I don't feel I can tell her how to live her personal life. Should I ask her to move out? Aside from this problem, she is an excellent roommate. -- NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL

DEAR NOT THAT KIND: Your letter brings to mind several old sayings. One: People are known by the company they keep. Two: Birds of a feather flock together. Three: People who lie down with dogs usually get up with fleas.

Do not try to tell Lindsay how to live her life. DO remind her that she is now living in a small town where tongues wag. Then explain that although you like her very much, your lifestyles are not compatible and you would like her to move. Your concerns about waking up to find strangers in your apartment are valid, and your choice of roommates is a reflection on you.

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend, "Justin," and I were in a four-year committed relationship. We agreed to wait on marriage and children. I never really wanted children, but if Justin wanted one, I would have his baby. He is 29, and I am 42.

Last summer I was shocked to learn that Justin and his best friend, "Beth," had had a baby girl together through in vitro. They plan to raise the child together. I still wanted to save our relationship, so I accepted his new life and tried to deal with it.

A month after that, Justin informed me that he is gay! I am devastated. We still love each other, and he wants to continue his relationship with me.

Justin does not have a man in his life -- just the baby and Beth, who live with him. He has no romantic interest in her. I am so sad without him. Should I stay in this relationship? -- CONFUSED AND HEARTBROKEN IN NEW YORK

DEAR CONFUSED: Whatever Justin's true sexual orientation may be, he has not been honest with you from the beginning. Please do not accept his word for it that Beth is only a friend, that their child was not conceived the old-fashioned way, or that he is gay.

My advice is to cut your losses NOW. This man has a child and a live-in who will take priority over you. Accept that if Justin cared at all about your feelings, you would have been told about the baby long before its birth. So end this charade and spare yourself even more grief.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I moved to the South and enrolled our son in a private Christian school. Many times when meeting other parents I am asked, "What service do you attend?" The truth is, my husband and I are not particularly religious, and we don't attend church.

How should I respond without feeling like a bad person or a bad parent? -- MEMBER OF NO CHURCH, IN TENNESSEE

DEAR NON-MEMBER: You live in a free country, not a theocracy. If you are not particularly religious, nothing compels you to go to church.

My advice is to be frank and say you are not affiliated with a church, and that you enrolled your son in that school because you felt he would receive a good education there. It's the truth, and it doesn't make you a bad person or a bad parent.

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