DEAR ABBY: About a year ago, I stopped seeing a man I'll call "Vince." Since then he has been stalking me. He sends me texts with photos he took of us while we were dating, but distorts them to make me look like I'm stabbing him in the heart. He sends videos with my head on a dancing Barbie doll. My neighbors tell me they see him drive past my house. (He lives across town.) I refuse to talk to him now because he scares me.
Vince has now begun making moves on my cousin "Nancy." She says their relationship isn't romantic, but others have told me they have seen them cuddle at restaurants and parks. He still continues to send me scary pictures and emails.
How can I tell Nancy about this without her thinking it's jealous retaliation against their new relationship? I honestly believe he is getting close to her only to spite me and keep an emotional hold on me. His relationship with her has made me afraid to tell her about my personal life or hang out with her for fear that he'll show up with her. -- CONFUSED IN OREGON
DEAR CONFUSED: I don't blame you for feeling intimidated, which is what your stalker is trying to accomplish. You can put an end to it by having your neighbors document his "drive-bys" and turning the pictures, videos and any other communications Vince has sent you over to the police. If he sent them via U.S. mail, the postmarks on the envelopes (and fingerprints) will prove what he has been up to. It may take a restraining order to put an end to this.
As to his relationship with your cousin, I agree that if she has feelings for him, she'll be reluctant to believe anything you tell her isn't sour grapes. However, if you show her the texts he's sending you -- I presume they're time-stamped -- she may believe you.
DEAR ABBY: I have been dating "Dawn" for more than a year. She has an amazing 7-year-old daughter, "Charise," who started calling me Dad about six months after her mother and I began dating. I love being a "dad" -- going to the park, on trips, helping out at school and telling bedtime stories.
The problem is, I don't love Dawn. We don't get along well anymore. My mother tells me I should find someone else and have kids of my own, but Charise "feels" like my kid. I can't imagine losing her.
One friend suggested I marry Dawn so I can stay in her daughter's life, but I want to be in love with the woman I marry. Am I wrong for not wanting to lose a child I consider my daughter, but not wanting to marry someone I don't love? -- SPINNING MY WHEELS IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR SPINNING: Charise may "feel" like your child, but she ISN'T. And even though she may call you "Dad," you AREN'T. Your romance with her mother is already on the downhill slide, so the kindest thing you could do for all concerned is end the relationship. But before you do, it is important that you make clear to Charise that it has nothing to do with her or your feelings for her.
Your mother is right. You need to settle down with someone you can love. To follow your friend's suggestion would be a huge mistake.
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