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Dear Abby: Should I stay with boyfriend who is facing prison time?

The couple has a child together and the man has put his criminal past behind him, but as his sentencing looms he’s become withdrawn and paranoid.

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I have been together for five years, and friends for eight. We share a daughter, who is a toddler. I have a son with my abusive ex as well. Although we are financially stable, we qualify as low-income. (I am the breadwinner.)

My boyfriend had a hard home life and was a troubled youth growing up. He has a criminal history, which is why my family opposed our relationship. He’s a wonderful father and has changed his life, but we have experienced many hardships because of his past. Because of a phone call from my ex, the state picked up his most recent charge from four years ago, and he is now facing prison time for a crime he did not commit.

We are both devastated. He has become withdrawn and is now at a paranoid level of distrusting. I know he has every right to be upset. But after six months of urging him to seek professional help and fearing he regrets being with me, I’m wondering if I’m doing myself a disservice by not seeking happiness elsewhere. I know I should be there for him because he needs me. But he won’t make future plans or seek better job opportunities because of his fear of prison time. What should I do? — IN A CORNER IN WISCONSIN

DEAR IN A CORNER: You are in a difficult situation, but don’t cut and run just yet. Advise your boyfriend that reclaiming his future may require the help of a criminal defense attorney. Then help him find one who will take his case and defend him if the need arises. And while you are at it, maintain as much distance as you can from your vindictive ex.

DEAR ABBY: I’ve had a male friend, “Herb,” for more than 35 years. He has helped me a lot with things such as repairs at my home. Many years ago, I became pregnant, but the baby’s father and I didn’t end up together. When Herb offered to marry me and raise my child as his own, that’s when I realized he had feelings for me. I explained that this was a kind offer, but I could not reciprocate his feelings.

Over the past 10 years, Herb has become touchy-feely, and it makes me very uncomfortable. He will kiss me on my forehead or come from behind me and hold me or hug me while rubbing my back. I have told him how it makes me feel and he laughs it off. He also makes remarks like, “Oh, I’ve never been in your bedroom,” or while we’re on the phone he tells me he is in bed and we are having pillow talk. What can I do? He’s been a good friend, and I hate to lose his friendship, but I really don’t know what else I can say to him to make him understand how he makes me feel. — TOO FRIENDLY IN OHIO

DEAR TOO FRIENDLY: Try this: When Herb gives you an unwanted kiss or hug, tell him you do not enjoy it when he invades your personal space and you don’t want it to happen again. If he brings up the subject of your bedroom or alludes to pillow talk during a phone call, get off the phone immediately. (“Gotta go now!”) Frankly, what he has been doing is creepy. If it continues, you will have to end the relationship and hire a handyman.

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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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