Dear Abby: Man refuses to take 4-year relationship to the next level

His partner is eager, but he vows never to marry and won’t share a home until her kids are grown.

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DEAR ABBY: I have been dating “Brent” for four years. Prior to meeting him, I was divorced with two children. Brent shows little interest in my kids’ lives. He doesn’t want us to live together before the kids are out of the house, and he never plans to get married. (My youngest is 10.)

Even if he would agree to live together now, I don’t want to move to his city because my kids need to be close to their school, their friends and their father. Brent doesn’t want to relocate because my town is heavily populated and he thinks it’s geared more toward a younger generation.

I really would like to take our relationship to the next level. I have been trying to do it for four years, but he ignores my subtle hints. I can’t imagine life without him. I have even considered getting pregnant to make this relationship go further, in spite of knowing he doesn’t want a baby. Advice? — GETTING DESPERATE IN THE HEARTLAND

DEAR GETTING DESPERATE: You have wasted four years of your life on the wrong man. Brent is centered on himself and would be a negative, disruptive influence in your children’s lives. Your first responsibility must be to them. If they were miserable, you would be too. Trust me on that.

As to the idea of “trapping” him by becoming pregnant in spite of the fact that he doesn’t want to be a father — I DON’T RECOMMEND IT! You could get a rude awakening and end up parenting a child you didn’t really want all by yourself. So start imagining a life without him. It will be a happier one that way.

DEAR ABBY: I have a co-worker I enjoyed talking to and being around. I’m 27, and she is 41. We used to sit together at lunch and during our break. All of a sudden, she stopped sitting with me during the first break but she still ate with me at lunch. Then she stopped eating with me at lunch!

I asked her if I said or did anything wrong and she said no. I asked her if she was avoiding me or had found something wrong, and she insisted there was nothing wrong and I worry too much. So now I sit alone and she sits somewhere else by herself with her phone. I was nice to her. We talked about our day and sometimes shared snacks during the break. All that is gone now.

I know people grow apart, but it stings. Being an adult means moving on, but when something happens for no apparent reason, there has to be an explanation. Can you share your insight on this dilemma? — LUNCHING ALONE

DEAR LUNCHING ALONE: There is always a reason. Perhaps you should believe your co-worker when she says you didn’t do or say anything wrong. What may have changed are her circumstances. You mentioned that rather than sit with you, she now sits alone with her cellphone. It’s possible that something is going on with her family or her personal life that requires her attention. I know it stings, but you have to let it go. Find someone else to socialize with during breaks. It would be less painful if she explained it to you, but your co-worker may be a private person.

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.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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