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by Abigail Van Buren

Boss and His Assistant Differ on Who Deserves a Thank You

DEAR ABBY: I have been dating "Mary" for 18 months, and I was really starting to fall for her. Things were going well until three weeks ago, when she informed me that she has a serious gambling problem. She has maxed out her credit cards and has no money left in her savings. Until this point, Mary had given me the impression that she was someone I could trust and that she was in control of her life.

I am in total shock and very upset about the fact that she has misrepresented herself to me. She said she didn't want to lose me. She says that even though we're not married, every relationship has its ups and downs, and a piece of paper should not define commitment.

Some of my friends say I should never see her again as she is manipulative. Others say continuing the relationship depends on how I feel about her. While I can forgive her, I am having a problem with the issue of trust.

Abby, given the circumstances, do you feel this is someone I can trust? My gut tells me buyer beware. -- ON THE FENCE IN NEVADA

DEAR ON THE FENCE: Has Mary made any effort to seek help for her gambling problem? If the answer is no -- and I suspect it is -- then listen to your gut. Listen to your head. And if you have any doubt that they're leading you in the right direction, listen to what your lawyer and accountant have to say about the risk of pursuing this relationship further.