DEAR ABBY: I have been with my boyfriend "Paul" for four years. We have a child together, and we each have a child of our own. We have lived together for three years, and our family life is great. However, when I was pregnant with our son, Paul contacted an ex on a social network. One day he left his computer open, and I saw that their conversations were less than innocent. I was upset and I said something immediately.
We have stayed together, but ever since then I'm having a hard time trusting Paul. Because he had also been calling the woman, I now check our phone records. Yesterday I found a text of his to a former boss's daughter. Paul was telling her how "hot" she is.
Abby, am I overreacting when I think Paul is going to cheat? -- ALARMED IN NORTH CAROLINA
DEAR ALARMED: You're not overreacting. Paul is cheating on you emotionally, and doesn't appear to be entirely committed to your relationship. In fact, it appears he is looking for some outside adventures. You should not only be concerned, you should also be furious about what he's doing. This won't stop until you draw the line.
DEAR ABBY: My parents divorced during my junior year of high school. I am now a sophomore in college. I have done my best to maintain a good relationship with Dad, although I chose to live with my mother during the custody battle.
Since the divorce, Dad has verbally, emotionally and financially abused me to the point that I no longer want him as part of my life.
I miss having a father figure, even though no amount of counseling could ever mend our broken relationship. We went through two years of counseling, and the only thing I learned was that Dad believes he has done nothing wrong and my feelings about him are because of Mom.
How can I get over the pain and hurt my dad has caused me? -- HEARTBROKEN IN MICHIGAN
DEAR HEARTBROKEN: It will probably take one-on-one counseling for you to establish enough emotional independence to toughen up. Your father's unwillingness (or inability) to take responsibility for his mistakes is an indication that, as much as you may need and want a father, he will never be the parent you would like him to be. It will take time and work on your part to get beyond this loss -- and it is a loss -- so the ideal place to begin your journey would be by talking to a psychologist at the student health center.
DEAR ABBY: My 6-year-old cousin wanted to make a lemonade stand, so my sister and I helped her, but she got discouraged because nobody would buy any. She was so angry she started yelling, then she crossed the line and dropped the F-word. My sister and I were shocked that a 6-year-old would know that word. She said her classmate told it to her. (They're in kindergarten.)
We told our parents, but we're not sure if we should tell her mother because she might think my sister and I taught it to her. Should we tell her mother or let it slide hoping she will forget the word and move on? -- NOT SURE IN SAN DIEGO
DEAR NOT SURE: Your parents should tell your aunt about the incident, just in case your cousin doesn't "forget" the word. That way her mother can explain to her that there are certain words polite people don't use because they are unacceptable.
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.