DEAR ABBY: My girlfriend, "Brandy," and I have been living together for about six months. Whenever she has any free time, she's out with her sister or one of her friends.
I am not a needy person, but I yearn for a little affection. Brandy quit her job, and I pay all the bills. I have been paying the bills for three months now, and it hurts me to the bone that she doesn't want to spend time with me. I see no reason why she wouldn't say thanks once in a while or show me some affection.
I must admit that I messed up with her a while ago, before she moved in. When we first started living together, Brandy would sit on my lap while we watched TV and hold my hand every once in a while. But now she says the mess-up is the reason she's not affectionate with me. It almost sounds like an excuse.
I am considering moving back home, but I love her very much. I'd like to work this out. I don't know what to do because every time I think about breaking up, I break down and cry. Help me! -- HURTING IN CORONA, N.Y.
DEAR HURTING: Grab another hankie, because you may need one. Brandy may have been in love with you when you first began living together, but it appears the passion has cooled. While there is an ebb and flow to most relationships, the fact that Brandy prefers to spend her free time with others sends a strong message -- especially when it is coupled with the fact that she no longer wants to be close or show affection.
You must ask yourself if this is the kind of relationship you want to be involved in for the long term. From my perspective, it appears to lack some important qualities. Repairing the relationship will take some effort on Brandy's part. But if the romance is over, painful or not, you should face it and go home.
DEAR ABBY: My mother-in-law has a habit that initially family members thought was funny but now is making us anxious and concerned. When we eat in a restaurant, she insists on having a tablecloth or placemat where she is seated.
If the restaurant is "family oriented," she will ask for napkins and create her own placemat before she is served her meal. If the restaurant is more formal, she will call ahead and inquire about a tablecloth. If they don't have linen tablecloths on each table, she will request that they provide one for her.
She seems to be getting more obsessive and demanding about this "quirk" as time goes on. Should we be concerned? -- ANXIOUS IN TEXAS
DEAR ANXIOUS: Ask your mother-in-law why she seems to be concerned about this, and if her answer is that she is germ-phobic, ask her to explain why her concern is escalating. She may be concerned that the table may not have been properly sanitized after a previous patron coughed, sneezed, etc., and that she'll pick up a virus.
Should you be concerned? Yes, if her behavior is becoming bizarre about other things, too. Any abrupt change in an older person's behavior should be mentioned to her (or his) health care professional.
For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)