DEAR ABBY: I am a 22-year-old mother of three, a 2-, 3- and 4-year-old. I am no longer with their father. He never wanted to spend time with us.

It’s not easy to find someone who will take on all this responsibility, especially someone in his 20s. I did meet this wonderful man in June 2004. His name is “Alex,” and he’s the best thing that ever happened to us. He treats us like his own family. I truly love him.

Well, “too good to be true” fits my situation perfectly. A couple of months ago, I found out Alex was stealing money from me. First, it was with my ATM card. I ended up cutting it up and throwing it away. After that, I started making Alex deposit his paychecks into my account. Then I found out he had forged two of my checks and cashed them. I know some of the money in the bank was his, but he never asked me or told me. Do you think what he did was OK because some of the money was his? Alex does. And what should I do about our relationship? – CONFUSED IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR CONFUSED: I know it’s hard to find a man, but the “wonderful” man you met in 2004 is a thief and a forger. For your own sake and that of your children, you should give him whatever money you owe him and end this relationship now. Unless you do, he will continue to steal from you – and heaven only knows what else.

DEAR ABBY: My sister, “Diane,” has always dated losers. The relationships have always ended badly. Stalkers, stuffed shirts, chauvinists – you name it.

A few months ago, she started dating a man I’ll call “Tim.” I won’t get into all of his nerve-wracking traits, although one of them seriously upsets me. The other day, Diane finally tried to dump him. Tim said OK, but called soon after saying he was going to kill himself by asphyxiating himself in his car, then he turned on the ignition. She heard his breathing get heavy and the phone went dead. She called the police, who found Tim several hours later in good physical health. He is in a “home” for now, but Diane still calls him. She says she wants to stay with him so he won’t kill himself.

No one else in my family knows about this. She made me promise not to say anything. I desperately want to. But if I do, my sister will never trust me again. Please help me. I’m only 19, and I cry every night because I’m so scared for her. Tim gets out in a few days. I don’t want him at our house. Talking hasn’t helped at all. She refuses to listen to me. – WORRIED SICK IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR WORRIED SICK: Some promises are made to be broken, and this is one of them. Because Tim has demonstrated that he is mentally unstable, your parents should be told immediately. You did not mention how old your sister is, but if she’s living at home, your parents have a right to determine who is welcome and who is not.

DEAR ABBY: I’m being married in six months and am planning a small wedding with family and close friends only. What is your advice on the best way to respond when well- meaning acquaintances say things like, “I hope I’m invited!” When this happened, I was so surprised I just smiled and didn’t respond. – BRIDE-TO-BE

DEAR BRIDE-TO-BE: Because someone says, “I hope I’m invited,” does not mean you are on the hook to do so. Just smile and reply, “I’d love to invite you, but it’s going to be a very small family affair.”

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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