DEAR ABBY: I met “Racquel” at work and we quickly became close friends. We go out, talk on the phone and share our feelings daily. I have fallen in love with her, and tell her often how much she means to me. I feel ready to take the next step and officially become girlfriend and boyfriend.

Racquel tells me she “isn’t sure” where our friendship will lead, and that she is still getting over her ex. (Their relationship ended more than a year ago.)

Last week, she went to her ex’s house and they had sex. She told me after it happened and said she knew right away she had made a mistake – and realized what a true friend I am.

Abby, we cried together. Should I forgive her and hang onto the hope she will now want to have a serious relationship with me? – SO IN LOVE IT HURTS

Forgive her, but realize that when she confided what happened, she told you exactly how she feels about you. She considers you to be a “true FRIEND.”

I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but it appears you are not going to have the romantic relationship with her that you would like.

DEAR ABBY: Last Saturday afternoon, I attended a cousin’s baby shower hosted by our “Aunt Flo.” It was held at a local restaurant, and Flo provided the cake and decorations. The guests were expected to pay for their own meals and drinks.

The invitation revealed nothing about this arrangement. Those of us attending didn’t find out until we called to RSVP. It seems unfair to burden guests with this cost, when they are also paying for a baby gift – not to mention travel expenses for those who came from out of town.

Not wanting to disappoint the mom-to-be, I attended – even though the afternoon ended up being a big strain on my budget. What do you think about this, Abby? – INDIGNANT OR IGNORANT IN IOWA

Aunt Flo did not “host” the shower – she simply arranged it. When a no-host party invitation is issued, it should clearly state that guests will be expected to pay their own way.

DEAR ABBY: During the last 20 years of my husband’s career, he was involved with a woman at work. They went to lunch, shopping and company parties. She was heavyset and wore garish makeup. I am tall, slender and don’t need makeup. People who know me refer to me as a “no-nonsense” woman. I have my own business and have traveled the world promoting my artwork.

Once my husband took some of my custom-made jewelry to work to show his “gal pal.” When he came home, he told me her comment was, “It looks like cheap costume jewelry.”

After my husband retired and became ill, this woman came to our home and told me to my face that although she could, she would never take a man from his family. I said, “Go ahead – take him!”

He’s been ill now several years, and she has finally quit sending him two to three cards a day. He misses her terribly. His girlfriend should not have dropped him, but she did. So after 42 years of marriage, he’s just got me. – STEADY AS A ROCK IN SAN FRANCISCO

I’d say your husband is the luckiest man on the face of the Earth. A lot of other wives would have said they deserved each other and walked out.

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 everything you need to know about wedding planning, order “How to Have a Lovely Wedding.” Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.

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