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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I'm 25 and have been married to "Bob" for five years. The problem is, I'm in love with his 53-year-old father. I have always been attracted to "Charlie," but my feelings have escalated since Bob's mother died last year.

After the funeral, Charlie was lonely and started coming to our house. Most of the time Bob was at work, so Charlie and I became very close. At one family get-together, Charlie kissed me passionately in the kitchen when no one was around.

I don't know what to do. I think I am seriously in love with Charlie, but my husband is a wonderful man and I would never want to hurt him. If I tell Bob the truth, not only will it destroy our marriage, but forever ruin Bob's relationship with his father.

Should I ignore my feelings for Charlie and pretend it never happened? Or should I tell Bob what happened, hoping he'll understand? -- IN LOVE WITH THE OLDER VERSION

DEAR IN LOVE: Charlie may have been lonely and grieving when he started coming over, but when you both recognized that you were becoming attracted to each other, a stop should have been put to it. That he would actually hit on you "when no one was looking" is disgraceful. (Was he sober?)

If you tell your husband, he will indeed "understand," and I don't recommend it. You need professional counseling, and Charlie needs to be told that poaching on the family preserve is not allowed, so he should spend his lonely hours looking for company that's available. What you have described isn't love; it's a scandal.

DEAR ABBY: Two years ago I placed my second child for adoption. I was a single mom with a 3-year-old boy to raise and the father was in the military for an extended mission. I thought long and hard before I did it and decided that the gift I could give to another couple was better than the life I could offer a child as a single parent.

I am still in contact with the father. We speak often, comfort each other and just talk. Some people -- mainly men I have dated -- find this relationship disturbing. It has caused two relationships to end.

Abby, am I wrong to continue a friendship with the father of a child I gave up for adoption? I know that at some point the past needs to be the past, and I'll have to deal with it for the rest of my life. Is it wrong to want to have that other person there to connect with me and understand firsthand what a hard life decision I went through? -- GIVEN UP SO MUCH ALREADY IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR GIVEN UP SO MUCH: No, but if you are trying to cultivate and maintain a relationship with someone else, you need to recognize that clinging to the father of that child and talking to him "often" was somewhere between threatening and a turn-off for the men you were involved with. They should have been the ones providing understanding and comfort -- not him.

DEAR ABBY: I have been living with my boyfriend for three years. We have often talked about a future together, complete with a house, kids, etc. I am the breadwinner while he is working hard to achieve success as an artist. The role reversal suits us just fine except for one thing. I would like to become engaged, but I feel I can't expect him to propose when I know he has very little money. Abby, should I propose to him? -- BREADWINNER IN NEW YORK, N.Y.

DEAR BREADWINNER: I don't see why not. It happens every day!

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