DEAR ABBY: I have been involved with “Christopher” for three years. Our relationship started out as an affair. Chris was married with two small children and lived two doors down from me. He ended up leaving his wife and kids for me – causing pain for everyone.

After the divorce, Chris was ordered to pay child support, alimony and the family’s mortgage. He stopped paying when his wife moved in a lover who was a neighbor from across the street. Soon after that she kicked him out and took up with a guy she met on the Internet. The two children were neglected and finally taken into state custody. (They have since been returned to her after a year-long court battle.) The state would never allow Christopher to take the kids because his ex brought to light his prison history and ongoing alcohol addiction.

My problem is, after three years of this drama, I still feel I can’t trust Chris – that he always needs to be “baby-sat.” He is not the world’s most responsible guy. For instance, instead of going to work, he may end up in a bar – and not even call to let me know. I’m always scared and worrying about what he’s doing and where he is.

On top of all this, Chris is facing more prison time. My head tells me he’s not worth the trouble he’s caused, but my heart won’t let go of the hope he’ll change. Maybe I should have walked away when he first cheated on his wife with me – the first time he lied, the first time he left me in the middle of the night to go out and do who-knows- what.

Should I wait until Chris goes to jail, then send him a Dear John letter and start over someplace else? Or should I get out now? If I threatened to leave him, he’d go nuts. Yet he feels OK about living a reckless and selfish life. Abby, who really has the problem here – me or him? – CONFUSED TO THE MAXIMUM IN MISSOURI

Interesting question. I’d say you both do. Your boyfriend can’t toe the line, and you can’t let go. From my perspective, Chris can offer you no future. However, if you think he will “go nuts” if you indicate that you’re leaving, it would be better if you wait until the state takes him away from you.

DEAR ABBY: My teacher told me I should write to you with my etiquette question about envelopes.

Should people mail their personal letters in envelopes that have a curved-edge closing flap or a straight-edge closing flap? Someone told me that one kind is for personal letters and the other kind is for business letters. Is this true? – JOSH IN CHICAGO

If it’s true, it’s the first I have heard of it. To most people, the most important thing is what’s inside the envelope, not the shape of the flap.

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.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.

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