DEAR ABBY: I’m dating my grammar school and high school sweetheart, “Gary.” We’ve known each other since I was 6. (I’m 33 now.) In high school we dated for nine months and were in love, but he told lies to my dad, so Dad ordered him to stay away.

Now, 16 years later, after being only friends all this time, we finally both became single and got back together.

Gary is and always has been the love of my life, as I am his. He would do anything for me. He says he wants to marry me and have kids, and he’s never said that to any other woman.

Since we broke up at 16, Gary has done some bad things (drugs, prison). Because of it, my dad hates him. Dad was finally getting used to Gary being back in my life until a few months ago, when Gary crashed my car after relapsing.

Gary is getting me a new car and trying to get my dad to like him, but Dad is stubborn. I know he’s just worried about me.

I want to bring Gary to my parents’ to visit because enough time has gone by since the accident. Is there any way to get my dad used to him? — TORN IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR TORN: I think the chances of your father “getting used” to his beloved daughter being married to a convicted felon and drug user who can’t quite kick the habit are somewhere between a snowflake and hell.

Gary may have been the love of your life since childhood, but if you plan to marry him, it’s important you get a glimpse of what you may be in for. There are self-help groups for the friends and family of addicts. Join one of them. (Visit Nar-Anon.org to find the nearest meeting.)

If you do, you will meet other individuals who are involved with people who have a drug addiction and learn about the challenges that will face both of you.

DEAR ABBY: A longtime friend of mine, “Jenny,” and I reunited after years of not speaking. Our pregnancies brought us back together, and since the births of our children we have had playdates, shared baby stories, advice, etc.

My problem is, Jenny tries to pass down stained, out-of-season clothes from her child to mine. (She gets free handouts from organizations that help moms and families who aren’t financially well off.) She and her child’s father drive brand-new cars with hefty car payments, and they are paying a big mortgage — all the while collecting assistance.

It bothers me because, while we struggle, my family doesn’t use assistance. We feel it should be used only for those who really need it.

Am I silly for letting something like this get to me? I find myself making excuses to cancel playdates and avoid her. — MAKING MY OWN WAY IN VIRGINIA

DEAR MAKING: Your problem isn’t the baby clothes. It’s that you disapprove of Jenny’s values.

While you have some things in common, you also have major differences. Among them, your choice to work for what you get and her willingness to game the system. That’s a big difference, and you’re not being silly.

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

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order “How to Have a Lovely Wedding.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)