LOVE ABBY: I’ve been with my friend “John” for a year and a half. After 20 years of marriage, he was divorced for two years when we got together. He told me that he and his ex “Jessica” were still good friends. I thought it was okay since they are raising their child together. I have children of my own and I understand.

I gave up and moved two hours to move in with John. Then I realized that he was always talking to her and texting her. Then I noticed that all of the food containers in the refrigerator were hers. I realized how much he depends on Jessica. John told me they got divorced because they split up.

As we discussed it further, John admitted he was still dependent on Jessica for everything from dinner to paying his bills to daily conversations. They are both in relationships and they continue to act that way. Your “child” is now 18 and has graduated from high school. Am I wrong if I am stuck in this relationship? John doesn’t seem to want or need me. – CAUSED IN MONTANA

DEAR CONFUSED: To say that John is overly dependent on Jessica would be an understatement, and Jessica seems to like it that way. You are not wrong if you prefer not to move forward in this relationship; You are intelligent. For you to move forward, Jessica would have to step aside – and it seems like neither she nor John are open to it.

LOVE ABBY: I’m a petite 53 year old woman who trains four to five times a week so I’m in very good shape. I often do manual work instead of hiring someone or using equipment. I see it as an opportunity for additional training. At some point I may have to take the easier route, but not yet.

When people see me doing things that are considered hard work, they assume I need help. For example, today I bought 30 blocks of cement to start building a wall. Several men asked if I needed help. I politely declined, as I always do, saying they were thoughtful but I don’t need any help. They replied, “No problem.”

A short time later it started to rain. A woman came by with an umbrella and offered to help, and I replied just as politely. She put down her umbrella and started lifting the blocks into my car anyway! I said, “No need. It was sweet to offer you this, but I get my morning workout. “She was offended and snapped,” Sorry to ‘impose’. I tried to help, ”and trudged off! This happens a lot.

I feel bad after these encounters. It seems like I am perceived as ungrateful, but if I need help, I will ask for it. How can I convey this better or do I just have to accept the help? – HARD TRIALS IN OHIO

LOVE TRIES: If multiple people are offended when you decline their offers of help, there may be something wrong with the way you convey your message. Sometimes it’s not what we say, but the words we choose or their tone of voice that can be off-putting. My advice is to discuss this with some of your friends and see how they react.

Dear Abby was written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and founded by her mother Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or PO Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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