DEAR ABBY: I met my boyfriend, “Ray,” three years ago. We have a great relationship. We are best friends and lovers. He wants us to marry and start a family soon.

My problem is I find myself lusting after Ray’s brother, “Tim.” Ray introduced me to Tim about six months after we met. Ever since, I have asked myself, “Have I picked the right brother?” I stuck with Ray because I felt morally obligated.

Tim has tried to express his feelings to me and pursue things, but I ignore him or change the subject. It’s not because I want to, but I feel it wouldn’t be right.

I am strongly attracted to Tim. I know it’s wrong, but he’s all I can think about. Please help. – LOST IN LUST

Since your infatuation with Tim has lasted 2 1/2 years, it’s safe to say that it’s not a passing fancy. In fairness to all concerned, it’s time to tell Ray that you are better friends than lovers and break off the relationship. He deserves a wife who is sure he’s Mr. Right – not Mr. Right’s brother.

Once you are a free woman, for the sake of family harmony, you and Tim should refrain from starting a relationship for at least six months ­- or until Ray finds another love interest. It’s important that you be patient. If you jump the gun, it could cause a permanent rift in the family.

DEAR ABBY: I am an “A” student in high school and an amateur figure skater. My problem is I can’t live up to my mother’s standards.

When I spend all day on a school project so I can get as high a grade as possible, she yells at me for not helping her around the house and claims she could’ve done the same project in an hour. If I get even three points off on a school exam, she gets angry and says that I made stupid mistakes and would’ve gotten a perfect score if I’d studied harder. If I mop the floor, she’ll yell if even the tiniest speck of dirt remains. If I polish the railing, she yells that I should do something else because the railing didn’t need it. If I show her what I’m sketching for art class, she belittles it. You get the picture.

I’ve tried to talk to her and to walk away from fights, but she’ll yell from the other end of the house or come to my bedroom door and berate me. I want a loving relationship with my mom. I’ve tried everything I can think of because I’m so tired of the fighting. What’s your advice? – TIRED OF FIGHTING IN LAWRENCE, N.Y.

You are describing verbal abuse. It’s possible that your mother is experiencing pressures or problems of her own and is venting on you because you are handy. Is your father in the picture? If he is, what does he think about this?

If you are being raised by a single parent, confide what’s going on to your father or a close adult relative who can intercede on your behalf.

If this is new behavior, she should be evaluated by her doctor. If it is not, perhaps you should be living with your father or another relative.

A constant barrage of criticism from a parent who is impossible to please can cause lasting damage. If there is no relative in whom to confide, talk to a trusted teacher or the parent of a close friend. I wish you luck and success.

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.

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