Dear Abby: Relationship suffers as man decides he no longer has to show appreciation

Partner feels deceived as formerly loving mate stops trying.

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DEAR ABBY: I have been in a relationship with “Blake” for almost 10 years. Before we met, I was with “Kaden,” the father of my kids. It was a loveless relationship. Kaden was mean and cold and often had angry outbursts.

My relationship with Blake started off as everything I ever wanted. He made me feel loved and appreciated. Ten years later, he, too, is cold. He no longer touches me (he watches porn instead) and makes no effort to show me love or appreciation. He’s a good provider financially, but he thinks he doesn’t have to do anything more than that.

I feel lost and hurt. I feel like Blake deceived me in the beginning, and now that he thinks I’m not going anywhere, and he doesn’t have to try. My self-esteem has suffered greatly. I have suggested counseling, but he refuses. Any advice will be appreciated. — UNLOVED IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR UNLOVED: Because Blake refuses counseling doesn’t mean that YOU couldn’t benefit from it. If you go, your therapist can help you to understand why you have tolerated the treatment you have been receiving for 10 years and help you rebuild your sagging self-esteem. Counseling is the surest way to understand and break the pattern of your partner’s behavior, learn what your strengths are and turn your unhappy life around. You deserve to be happy, so start working on it now.

DEAR ABBY: When I prepare for family to visit, I know I’ll have to spend time with one relative who will repeat the same stories/facts/opinions ad nauseam. In the past, I have tried saying, “Oh yes, I remember you telling me that,” but he just continues. He acknowledges me when I say that I’ve heard this one before, and then he keeps right on with the story. He does this with just about everyone, not only with me.

Must I participate in these conversations? It seems odd pretending I haven’t heard the story, and telling him I’ve heard it doesn’t stop him. He’s been the same for the 30 years I’ve known him, so I don’t think there are any cognitive issues. I’m not sure why he does this, or how important that is. My gut is telling me that he’s awkward socially, inflexible and not interested in what others have to say. Any advice? — TALK, TALK, TALK IN MICHIGAN

DEAR TALK, TALK, TALK: When your egotistical relative starts one of his talking jags, wait for him to take a breath, remind him you have heard the story many times and leave the room. If it’s something you haven’t heard before, be grateful.

DEAR ABBY: I recently met this guy at a private event. We got to talking, and he gave me his social media information. We have been messaging each other ever since. He has been acting increasingly obsessed, and it’s making me uncomfortable. He acts like we’ve known each other for years. I don’t know how to tell him I don’t want to talk to him anymore. What are your thoughts? — RESERVED GUY IN MASSACHUSETTS

DEAR RESERVED GUY: My thought is that because his messages are making you uncomfortable, you should respond to them slowly, briefly and then not at all. It would be kinder than ghosting 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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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