DEAR ABBY: I have been hopelessly in love with the father of my baby, “Alan,” for three years. I know Alan loves me even though he can’t commit. I am also very close to his parents.

I have reached the point where I accept that it’s time for me to move on, even though I would prefer to spend the rest of my life with him.

The problem is, Alan’s parents think of me as family. They are very religious. I know they must have picked up on some of the friction that’s happening between us. They keep saying that things will work out if we just stay in prayer.

I desperately want to have a heart-to-heart talk with Alan’s mom so she understands that it’s no one’s fault and there should be no hard feelings.

How can I explain without hurting them that maybe it’s best for everyone if I don’t come around during family gatherings? Please help. – CONFUSED AND IN LOVE IN TEXAS

I, too, believe in the power of prayer, but in your case it’s time to move on. Do not allow yourself to be made to feel guilty and accept the status quo.

Have the heart-to-heart talk with Alan’s mother. Say sweetly but directly, “I love you and I love your son. You will always be this child’s grandparents. But I need a husband who will help me to raise your grandchild, and Alan is unable to commit.”

DEAR ABBY: I’m a 27-year-old guy, and I’m involved with an older woman I’ll call Carmen.

Carmen has three daughters from previous relationships. I have no authority over them, and they show me no respect. Even though they talk rudely to me, I’m supposed to accept it. Carmen demands everything be done her way, and I have no voice in anything that happens in my home.

Carmen’s youngest daughter, “Talia,” recently got a kitten. We agreed it would not be kept in the house because I am allergic to cats. I make my living as a singer, and if I can’t breathe, I can’t earn money to support us. I’ve explained this to all the girls, but no one seems to care as long as they get what they want. Talia whines, and the cat is inside. What should I do? – DESPERATE IN INDIANA

If the house belongs to you, lay down the law. The cat goes, or they all go. If the house belongs to Carmen, read the handwriting on the wall of “your” home, and make other living arrangements pronto. Your health and your career depend on it.

DEAR ABBY: I broke my engagement to my fiancee, “Shirley,” recently. I am sad, but I know it’s better to have ended it now, rather than have a divorce down the road.

The engagement ring and wedding bands are back in my possession, and I would like to “dispose” of them because they are painful reminders of our failed relationship. How can I salvage some of my investment? It is no longer possible to return them to the jeweler, and a pawn shop will never give me their full value. Any suggestions? – TRYING TO MOVE ON IN CHICAGO

Have the rings appraised. Get the appraisal in writing. Take it to your accountant and discuss donating them to a charity. You may take a loss, but consider it “tuition” in the school of experience.

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.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: “Abby’s Favorite Recipes” and “More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby.” Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $10 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby – Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.

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