DEAR ABBY: I have been romantically involved with my best friend, "Ray," for three years. We dated for a couple of years 14 years ago. He got a girl pregnant right before we started dating, and they ended up getting married and having four more children. We remained friends and began seeing each other after they divorced three years ago.
Ray says he has always been in love with me and should have married me. We're very close and spend as much time together as we can.
For the past year I have been asking when I'll meet his children. He keeps saying I need to be patient and when the time is right I can. We live in different cities.
Ray is a great dad -- very involved in his children's lives. He has them during the week, and on weekends, coaches basketball for his son, and takes them to their different activities. etc. I understand they are his first priority. I just wish he'd include me in that part of his life.
Ray says he wants to marry me. We discuss it often and plan on living together in the near future. I feel he doesn't want me to be a part of his life that involves the children. They range in age from 13 to 3 1/2. They know I exist because he has my picture by his bed, but he says they don't ask about me. Am I being "too" patient? -- REALITY CHECK IN KANSAS
DEAR REALITY: Are you absolutely certain that Ray is divorced? It seems strange to me that after three years you still haven't met his children. Or does he plan to have you move in and "surprise" them? That would be a big mistake.
If my suspicions are wrong and Ray is on the up and up, tell him you need him to set a definite timeline. You have been patient long enough.
DEAR ABBY: My cousin "Cassidy" met a man I'll call "Lenny" online and they started dating. When I met him a few months later, I recognized him as the man who had sexually assaulted two women I knew in college. He was convicted of these crimes, did time in jail and is a registered sex offender.
I was horrified and unsure about how to tell Cassidy. It turns out Lenny told her before they started dating, but she chose to date him anyway. They were married at the courthouse two years ago, a few weeks before my own wedding. I did not invite Lenny, and my cousin posted a nasty message online about it. When we are at family functions, I ignore him as much as I possibly can.
Although their marriage is not a good one, Cassidy is planning a formal wedding in a few months. I am torn. I don't support this, and besides, they are already married. If I don't attend, I'm afraid it will cause a big rift in my family.
Should I suck it up and put myself in a situation that makes me sick to my stomach? Or should I stay away with the possibility of upsetting those I care about? -- RELUCTANT RELATIVE IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR RELUCTANT RELATIVE: Your cousin already knows how you feel about her husband because you tried to warn her. Unless you're as good an actress as Meryl Streep, your family cannot have missed the fact that you avoid him as often as possible. If the idea of attending the upcoming performance gives you an upset stomach, do everyone a favor and stay away. And if anyone gives you heat, be upfront about the fact you think she's making a mistake and would feel like a hypocrite if you went.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)