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Get out of relationship gradually

Dear Annie: I’m a sophomore in college and live far away from my hometown, so I rarely see my friends or family. I wouldn’t mind so much except that I’m in a long-distance relationship with “Rob,” whom I have known since I was very young.

I know such relationships can be difficult, but this one is completely over the top. Rob has always been emotionally and verbally abusive, but now he has gotten so bad I’m afraid he’s becoming mentally unstable. Schizophrenia runs in his family, but he refuses to seek counseling.

Here’s the real problem. I’ve met another guy. “Alex” is funny, sweet and kind, and he loves me a lot. The feeling is mutual. What do I do now? Should I dump Rob and risk making him angry? Should I ditch Alex and be miserable? Should I throw away my life for the wrong guy? – Didn’t Mean To Two-Time

Dear Didn’t Mean: So you’ve outgrown Rob, who is unstable and abusive, but you don’t want to make him angry because he’s a little scary. You can talk this over with one of the university counselors. Then tell your parents that you want to break up with Rob, but you are worried about his potential for being abusive.

It would be best if you could find a way to separate yourself gradually and naturally. Be nice on the phone and in your e-mails, but not too friendly or romantic, and don’t contact him too often. Don’t say you miss him or love him. Talk about class to the point where he’s bored. Your aim is to convince Rob he’d like to move on, too.

Dear Annie: My husband and I are part of a book club that meets at a different member’s house each week. One of the couples has three large dogs that jump on us, sniff up and down my legs, stick their noses in my crotch and lick my feet.

This couple doesn’t attempt to control the dogs’ behavior. Instead, they say if we ignore the animals, they will stop. Trust me, it doesn’t work. They can clearly see that we spend the night trying to keep the dogs off of us. What can I say or do so my evening isn’t ruined? – Anonymous

Dear Anonymous: This couple is being inconsiderate of their guests. Not everyone finds it charming to have their feet licked, their bottoms sniffed and dog hair deposited on all their clothing.

The next time it’s their turn to host the book club, call in advance and ask if they will please put the dogs in another room for the evening. If they refuse, you have the choice of putting up with it, attending only at other members’ homes or finding another book club.

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar write for Creators Syndicate.

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