DEAR ABBY: After being single for several years, I met the man of my dreams. “Chet” was everything I was searching for. We have become very close, and I’d trust him with my life. For nearly a year, our relationship has been bliss. Chet seems to be completely devoted to me.

He told me when we first met that his wife had died seven years ago from diabetes. He seemed upset at the memory of her loss, and I never pressed him for more details. He wears a lock of her hair braided to his, and I never really thought much about it.

Well, Chet took me “home” for the Easter holiday. Some things were casually said in passing, and his story began to unravel. After I got home I accessed public records and found in place of a death certificate, a judgment for divorce in 2001! I couldn’t believe that Chet would lie to me. I felt such a deep connection to him.

When I confronted him about it, he told me that to him, she IS dead. He says he never looks back, only forward, and that he didn’t want to discuss it further. When I brought up the trust issue, he said he had never cheated on me or been with another woman – completely ignoring the fact he’d lied.

I could understand his wearing his deceased wife’s hair – but his divorced wife’s? Now he says it isn’t her hair; it’s hair he bought, and he likes the way it looks. Then why did he tell me it was his wife’s hair? I want more than anything to get past this because we really are good together. Please help me. – DAZED IN DENVER

DEAR DAZED: Your confusion is understandable, but for your own sake, you must open your eyes and see clearly. The man you would trust with your life is someone who dwells in his own reality; he bends the truth for his own convenience. Your relationship may feel warm and cozy, but you can’t believe a word the man says – and my advice to you is to double-check EVERYTHING he has told you.

Your boyfriend appears to be a compulsive liar, and if you are wise, you will end the relationship before you get sucked in any further. You fell in love with the person he portrayed himself to be, but it’s not who he really is at all.

DEAR ABBY: Our 24-year-old son was killed recently in an auto accident. We had long dreaded that his life might end like this. He had a history of many traffic tickets and a terrible driving record. He had totaled three vehicles in the last three years. The wreck that killed him was his fourth accident in three years.

We have discovered that our son’s grandmother took out a large life insurance policy on him after the first accident. Thinking that his own grandmother would “bet” on his death has made our grief even harder to bear. At first, when we confronted her, she said she had taken out the policy to ensure his proper burial because we have no money. (My wife was diagnosed with cancer 3½ years ago, and the treatment left us destitute.)

The policy is many times the cost of our son’s funeral. When the funeral director asked my wife and me in the presence of other relatives (including his grandmother), if there was a life insurance policy to defray the expenses, I turned and looked at her. She didn’t utter a word! We borrowed the money from my wife’s brother.

We don’t want a penny of this “blood money” for ourselves or our son’s burial. But now our son’s grandmother is acting very hostile to us. We feel she saw our son’s bad driving record and thought she had a chance to profit from his death. Are we wrong? – BROKENHEARTED PARENTS IN TEXAS

DEAR BROKENHEARTED: You have my sympathy not only for the loss of your son, but also the loss of your illusions about his grandmother. People who feel guilty often act hostile. Unless there is something you failed to mention in your letter, it appears you have assessed the grandmother’s motives correctly.

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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