DEAR ABBY: I recently ended a nine-month relationship with a 40-year-old man I’ll call Shallow Hal. I was head over heels in love with him. We had a lot in common and our personalities were compatible, but there was one major problem. Hal loved everything about me, but his love for me was contingent upon my losing weight.

Hal told me that when I lost weight, he would treat me better, let me meet his family and introduce me to his friends. Until I did, he denied me all those things, including hugs and kisses. For nine months Hal strung me along, and I believed that losing weight would change everything and we would end up together, happily ever after.

I am currently working on my master’s in counseling psychology, and I should have known better. Clearly, Hal did not accept me for who I was, and I should have ended the relationship long ago because he was not into me. Some days he didn’t know if he ever wanted to get married and have kids; other days he did. He was definitely unstable.

Why did I put up with this when I was the one who did all the driving to his house and all the courting? And how do I keep all this from replaying in my mind? I hear his weight comments over and over, and it’s self-destructive, but I can’t seem to let it go.

Why do so many women like me waste so much time on men who simply don’t care? The worst part is, I still love him. Please advise me. – HEARTBROKEN IN WEST CHESTER, PA.

What you have described sounds more like obsession than love. You, like many other women, could not resist the challenge of “winning” a man who was unwinnable. By remaining one step out of reach, he stays in control.The woman gives and gives and gives, hoping that by giving just a little bit more she can “make” the man love her. It’s a mating dance that doesn’t end until the woman either wises up or collapses from emotional fatigue.

A way to erase those old tapes from your mind would be to consciously remind yourself why the comments were made. If that doesn’t do the trick, then talk to a therapist.

What you think of yourself is far more important than what Shallow Hal thought of you.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 52-year-old woman, my sister is 54 and our mom is 79. Last summer, when we were all together, we decided to bring in an expert to discuss the antiques we had acquired from family members over the years.

Although it was interesting to hear the monetary values placed on the 40-or-so pieces, the most valuable part of the experience was the ability to discuss and learn about the pieces together. Mom became a beacon of recall when information from our expert triggered her memories, and the experience was priceless.

The only regret we had was that we didn’t do it sooner, while my Aunt Wilma (Mom’s older sister by 15 years) was still living, because we all agreed she would have been able to add to our laughter, our knowledge about the antiques and, consequently, our family history.

Abby, I know you have said this before in your column, but please remind your readers again that they should take time NOW and do things with loved ones while they are still living, rather than regretting not doing it after they are gone. It really was fun. We have talked about that day ever since. – DR. MARCIA K., MARINA, CALIF.

You have written an important letter. The greatest gift people can give each other is the gift of their time, their affection and their interest. No tangible item compares to the gift of love.

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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