DEAR ABBY: I am recently divorced. For financial reasons, as well as to be nice, I have allowed my ex-wife, “Cathy,” and her daughter to live in our home with me and my kids. Cathy has her own bedroom and bathroom.

The subject of my living arrangements came up recently while I was on a date, and the woman immediately freaked out. She angrily informed me that I should have told her my ex-wife was living with me when we started talking. I felt it was something that could wait, at least past the first date. Despite the fact that we were married, Cathy and I are nothing more than roommates now.

When is it too late in a new relationship to divulge this arrangement? — JOHN IN KENTUCKY

DEAR JOHN: You did nothing wrong. It is not unheard of for divorced couples to continue living together for financial reasons or to assist in co-parenting. If you told the woman about your living arrangement before becoming intimate with her, she had no reason to freak out.

DEAR ABBY: I’m a 54-year-old woman with three adult children and three grandchildren. I lost my mother 34 years ago, and my baby sister died 20 years ago.

My dad is 84 and lives alone. Although he was a good provider, he was abusive toward my mother and occasionally toward me and my siblings. Dad and my younger brother do not communicate, period. However, my older sister is a daddy’s girl.


I have been married three times, and each man was in some way abusive — physically, mentally or both. When I reached out to my dad for help, he would respond by telling me, “You’re just like your mother, which is why I can’t stand being around you sometimes. I wasn’t responsible for her feelings, and I’m not responsible for yours.”

I live in a three-bedroom bungalow and I tried to help relocate Dad closer. He refused, saying, “If I don’t hear from you tomorrow or you die, I’ll be OK. I was when your mother died and I will be after you.” He has said that and worse to me throughout my life, and I’m afraid to continue contact with him for fear one day his words will break my spirit.

When I have shared this with family, I’ve been told, “He’s all the father you have,” or, “You have to pray for him.” Please help me. I don’t want to pray for him — I want to stay far away from him. — CONFLICTED IN OHIO

DEAR CONFLICTED: If you need my permission to move on and have a happy life, you have it, and no one should try to make you feel guilty for your decision. Your father has done enough damage to your soul. You do not have to allow him to hurt or disappoint you again.

Wanting to keep your distance from an abuser is both healthy and understandable. He may be “all the father you have,” but the person you have described is a sorry excuse for a human being and not much of a man. You do not have to pray for him, nor do you have to have anything further to do with him.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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