Dear Abby: Couple splits after four years, two kids, a few missed chances

A woman feels she made a mistake ending her relationship.

A woman feels she made a mistake ending her relationship.

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DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend of four years (the father of my two little boys) and I have decided to separate. We got along, but when we did argue, it escalated. We bought a home together a year ago, but two weeks ago he moved back to his parents' house. We alternate the boys every two or three days.

Our issues could have been fixed, but we were too prideful. Now I'm starting to have regrets -- what have I done? We could have been a family for our little boys. I wanted this separation in order to work on myself and repair our relationship. But he seems happier now and is enjoying the separation, while I cry myself to sleep hoping that one day we will get back together. How do I move forward to truly be happy for myself and my boys? -- SAD MOMMY IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR SAD MOMMY: People move forward by learning from their mistakes. Wait another week or so and ask your former boyfriend how he feels about relationship counseling to settle your issues. If he is truly happier living with his parents and unwilling to do the work necessary for a lasting relationship, give yourself time to heal from this breakup, and when you are emotionally balanced again, start moving on with your life.

DEAR ABBY: Sixty years ago I had a brief extramarital affair that resulted in the birth of a son. For a multitude of reasons I have never revealed the identity of his biological father to him or anyone else. I recently learned his daughter is doing some DNA testing, and I'm afraid my long-ago lie will be discovered. I do not want my son, my granddaughter or anyone else to discover it this way. Do you have any advice on how I should handle it? -- HOLDING ONTO A SECRET

DEAR HOLDING: If possible, meet with your son in person and tell him the whole story. Do it in quiet, private surroundings. I am sure he will have many questions, and you should be prepared to answer them honestly. I agree with you that he should hear this news from you rather than his daughter.

DEAR ABBY: I don't think I've ever seen this suggestion in your column, but maybe it's just too obvious. When a reader sends a letter and receives advice from you, why doesn't that reader give that "Dear Abby" column to the "problem" person? No confrontation, no interpretation -- just counsel straight from Abby's mouth, so to speak. That's what I would do if you gave me advice. -- LOGICAL IN FLORIDA

DEAR LOGICAL: I hope not. The most unwelcome "advice" in the world is that which is unasked for. Some readers have clipped my column and sent it anonymously to someone they thought "needed" it, but I think the practice is cruel and cowardly. If you have a friend you think has a problem, "suggest" the person write me for an unbiased opinion if you wish. But to do what you are suggesting could be considered a breach of someone's privacy and cause hurt feelings.

Neighbors' one-sided friendship leaves woman feeling slighted

DEAR ABBY: I have a friend of 20-plus years I'll call "Gladys." We enjoy walking our dogs and talking about relationship issues. Sometimes it's just me counseling her. She often regales me about these wonderful times she has -- get-togethers with her other friends that I'm not invited to. She loves going into detail about how wonderful her excursions are, etc. I have always made excuses to myself about it -- I'm more boring and straight-laced than her other friends, not as rich, not as smart. (It's true. I don't party much. I'm a total lightweight.)

Also, I'm one of her only friends who hasn't met her boyfriend of more than a year, and believe me, she has confided in me about their relationship the whole time. I have been concocting in my mind a way to address this with her without driving a wedge. (She can be very sensitive and defensive.) My boyfriend doesn't like how she treats me, but she's never been anything but kind and sweet with me, generally. She just doesn't include me in her social circle. What is your take on this? -- STRANGE FRIENDSHIP IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR STRANGE FRIENDSHIP: My "take" is that over the last 20 years you have fulfilled one particular function in Gladys' life, being her therapist and dog-walking chum. Period.

Your boyfriend has a point. She appears to be centered on herself and insensitive about how her confidences have made you feel. In my opinion, what she has been doing isn't kind and sweet; it is clueless. Ask Gladys (and her boyfriend) to go out for a social activity. It's worth a try. If you really want to know why you have never been included in her social circle, I don't think it would be rude to ask why -- IF you are prepared for the answer. It's a fair question.

DEAR ABBY: My grandson-in-law seems to have no motivation to take advantage of his VA benefits after just having completed his military service and not having been trained to do anything in civilian life. He's married and has a toddler. They have moved in with his parents, who babysit the child while his wife works. He wastes every day and doesn't seem to want to find a job or get training (paid for by the VA).

My granddaughter is frustrated and at her wits' end. We have offered suggestions and sent emails for virtual job fairs for veterans, but he doesn't seem interested enough to apply for anything or follow up on the one or two interviews he has had. She has even filled out job applications for him. What can we do to encourage her or him? Frankly, I feel like she would be much better off leaving him. Any suggestions? -- GRANDDAD-IN-LAW IN FLORIDA

DEAR GRANDDAD: Your granddaughter's husband appears to need more help than being steered toward job fairs. He may need to be medically and mentally evaluated. Could he suffer from PTSD, drug addiction or an undiagnosed mental illness? And what do his parents have to say about this? Once your granddaughter knows what she is dealing with, she will have a better idea of what to do about it. Right now the most helpful thing you could do is discuss with her what I have written and provide emotional support until she has some answers.

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