DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I have been together for six years. We finally moved in together a year ago. Things have been going pretty well, with the exception of an unusual habit of his that has become more evident since living together. He spends anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 1/2 hours in the bathroom every day. A couple of times he has even fallen asleep in there.
He takes his computer in the bathroom because he claims he gets a lot of work done. Some days I barely get to see him because he works late and then spends the rest of the day you-know-where.
I have told him more than once how much it bothers me, but he continues to do it. It's driving a wedge between us. Am I overreacting? Is he purposely trying to put space between us? -- TIRED OF THE TOILET TURMOIL
DEAR TIRED: He may be using the bathroom as a refuge from more "togetherness" than he can handle, or he may be doing something on his computer that's more than work-related. I do think there is more going on than he's telling you, but in order to get to the bottom of it, you will have to convince him to open up and be honest. And no, I do not think that after having invested six years in this relationship you are "overreacting."
DEAR ABBY: I am a 13-year-old girl whose parents are divorced. When I was a baby, I lived with my grandma, but my mom took me back when I was 7 or 8.
My mother abused me while I was living with her, but nobody knew it. When I was 12, I was sent to my dad's for Christmas. By then he was on his third marriage. His new wife already had two kids.
While I was visiting, Mom called to make trouble for me. She said she was worried I might be messing around with boys she didn't approve of, and threatened to "beat me bloody" when she got hold of me. My dad went to court to see if I could stay with him permanently, and it turned out I could.
Now I'm having trouble with my stepmom and her kids. She thinks her two girls are little angels. She's mean to me and treats me like I'm doing something wrong all the time. I feel so alone.
Mom and Grandma want nothing to do with me. So, Abby, I have a few questions: Should I have a bad feeling about staying with my dad because of my stepmom? And, if I ever have my own kids, will I end up treating them like my mom treated me? Thank you for listening. -- SAD TEEN, NORTH CAROLINA
DEAR SAD TEEN: There are many loving and caring stepparents. I'm sorry that you have been shortchanged by the women in your life, all of whom may be less mature than you are at your tender age. You will have to look elsewhere for the mentoring you need from an adult -- a teacher, a counselor, a coach, or even the mother of one of your friends.
Please don't be afraid that you will automatically repeat the cycle of abuse that you have suffered. You have learned firsthand how not to treat others. Many adults are able to give their children the parenting they didn't experience themselves. (My hat is off to all of them.)
P.S. Perhaps fathers should not automatically assume that second (or third) wives will be able to accept and love their children from a prior marriage. Blending families should be done with eyes wide open.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)