DEAR ABBY: I must respond to “Forever Single,” the man who’s in love with “Kit,” but never wants to get married. He’s not the only person who would rather just live together. My boyfriend of eight years and I have both been married before. We do not need a “piece of paper” to tell us that we love each other and will never stray.

I agree with your advice that they should talk to a lawyer in case something ever happens. I work for an attorney, so all our affairs are in order in case something ever does happen. My boyfriend has two children from a previous marriage and we have two together. So we made sure if anything bad happens to one of us, the other has control over everything, and not our exes. – JULIE IN SOUTH CAROLINA

For your sake and your children’s, it was wise for you to tie up all the loose ends. For the other side of the story, read on:

DEAR ABBY: I am an 81-year-old lady in good health and still driving. I lived with “Martin” for 15 years. He is now 87. Martin never wanted to marry me, although I proposed several times.

A year ago, his family made me leave his home. His money and their greed were the reasons. I didn’t care whether or not Martin had money. We had each other, and still love each other dearly. I now live with my son 30 miles away.

I go to see Martin three or four times a week. He has major health problems and severe Alzheimer’s. He no longer knows his children or grandchildren. He only knows me, although he remembers nothing we did together that he loved to do — like traveling, cruises, dancing three or four times a week, golf, his poker games, or the people we socialized with. When I visit him he says, “Tell me about the things we did, the folks we did them with, and the fun we used to have.”

You gave “Forever Single” the right advice when you said mature people want to take care of those they love. Spouses have legal protection benefits that single people do not enjoy. If something were to happen, “Kit” would be left with nothing but memories.

I stayed with Martin for 15 years. He didn’t look out for my future, and now he can’t. His children declared him mentally incompetent. He has 24/7 attendant care. I had to go back to work in the home health-care field to support myself. It is “Kit’s” choice to go or to stay. I wish I had insisted on marriage or future support. – A YOUNG 81, GETTING ON WITH HER LIFE IN TAMPA

: So do I, because at least you would have had security or known where you stood. I find it sad that so many people get caught up in the “romance of the nontraditional” and forget that love includes responsibilities. Whether or not your beloved consciously intended to leave you vulnerable, with no choice but to re- enter the job market as an octogenarian, that is exactly what happened because he refused to make a commitment. I hope others will benefit from your sad experience. You have been, and continue to be, a loyal and loving partner. You deserved better.

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

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” To order, send a business-sized, self- addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby — Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.

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