DEAR ABBY: My stepmother would like us to have a closer relationship. She and my father married eight years ago while I was in college. She was his mistress. I don't like her for a variety of reasons not all having to do with the divorce. Until now, it has been easy to remain "cordially distant."
All of a sudden she has become pushy. She says we "have" to be closer and that she's got "rights in my life as my mother." She wants me to call her "Mom" and to get me to tell her I love her. It is not going to happen. But I care about her feelings and also about keeping peace in the family.
How can I let her know that I liked things better when we were more distant and avoid telling her I love her? I need her to back off. Talking to Dad won't help. He's defensive about anything related to his wife and can't understand why everyone doesn't like her as much as he does. -- NOT IN LOVE WITH DAD'S WIFE
DEAR NOT IN LOVE: Your father's "bride" appears to have the hide of an alligator and a voracious appetite to match. She's trying to "devour" you.
It would not be rude to remind the woman that you already have a mother, and as long as you are blessed to have one, you do not intend to call anyone else by her name. As for your being asked to tell her you "love" her, explain that while you are grateful to her for making your dad happy, love is something that needs to blossom over time -- and enough time hasn't passed yet. (It should not be necessary to mention that "enough time" will never elapse.)