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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I'm a guitarist in a rock band that has been performing in the San Francisco Bay area for five years. Because my on-again, off-again girlfriend, "Robin," didn't get along with my band mates, I found myself often caught in the middle. Her dislike of the band scene distanced me from the other members of the band and resulted in my not hanging out with them like I used to. Mounting pressures from both sides caused my breakup with Robin, someone I cared about and loved deeply.

The split resolved the problem with the band, but now they are asking me for reassurance that I won't date anyone in the future who will have a negative impact on the band. I made a big personal sacrifice for them, and I think it's insulting and insensitive to demand reassurance that history won't repeat itself. I have told them I'm ready to move forward with no more obstacles. Abby, please advise. -- DISSONANT CHORD IN THE COMPOSITION

DEAR DISSONANT CHORD: You may be a "dissonant chord," but your band mates' demand strikes a sour note with me. While a career in music -- particularly if you get lucky and spend a lot of time touring -- is undeniably demanding, your partners in this business should not have the right to dictate your personal life. You gave 'em an inch, and now they expect a mile.

If you're prepared to have them dictate your life for as long as the band lasts, then keep on strumming and keep your promise. But I predict that at some point you are going to have to draw the line. Have another gig lined up when you do.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a gay man in a bad situation. My boyfriend, "Kyle," is bipolar/schizophrenic. Sometimes he can be violent. Much of our time together is spent taking care of him. I work; he doesn't.

We are both college students and I believe, regardless of what I have been through, I have a bright future ahead of me. Kyle is verbally and physically abusive at times, and yes, I end up hurt most of those times. I have convinced myself that it's my fault because I make him mad when he is under stress or he is manic. He breaks up with me every week and then tells me he loves me, then turns around and says he hates me.

Abby, all I want to do is love him and help him. I don't know what he wants or what will make him happy. I need to know if I should stick with Kyle or give up. -- HOPELESSLY DEVOTED IN JERSEY CITY, N.J.

DEAR HOPELESSLY DEVOTED: Healthy, loving relationships are based on a relatively even give-and-take between partners. You may want to help Kyle, but you are not qualified to do so.

Because you say your situation is a "bad" one, and your boyfriend is verbally abusive and hurts you physically as well as emotionally, I am advising you to find out from a mental health professional why you would subject yourself to the emotional roller coaster ride that you have. If you do, this will happen to you less often in the future. Also, the counselor can help you decide whether this relationship is salvageable.

DEAR ABBY: After moving out of your parents' home, is one expected to knock on the door when visiting, or is it OK to just open the door and walk in? -- HEY MOM, I'M HOME!

DEAR "HEY MOM!": The considerate thing to do would be to knock, which would prevent any embarrassing surprises.

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