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by Abigail Van Buren

Struggling Mom Suspects It's Time to Let Man Go

DEAR ABBY: I have been seeing a guy, "Casey," for three years. I have two children by another man, and Casey took them on as if they were his. They even call him "Daddy." I'm grateful I have someone who takes such good care of my kids. I can see myself spending the rest of my life with him.

There's just one problem. Casey has a hard time keeping a job. He has had more than a dozen jobs during the last three years. The only income we have is mine, and it's not very much. We struggle quite a bit, and we fight about money. Things would be better if Casey would get a job and keep it, but I can't get him to understand that. Sometimes I feel like he's using me.

I want to stay with Casey, but now and then I also think I'd be better off if I left him. What can I do to make him understand that he needs to keep a job? Or, because I love him, should I stand beside him no matter what? -- BREADWINNER IN OHIO

DEAR BREADWINNER: If Casey doesn't understand after three years that you need an equal partner in the relationship, I doubt you'll ever get that message through to him. As it stands, you appear to have a live-in baby sitter "with benefits." Add to that the fact that on some level you sense you are being used and would be better off without him, and I conclude that day care would not only be less expensive, it would also provide you a chance to meet a man who's willing to pull his own weight. Right now it appears you have three dependents.