Dear Annie

Is it time to quit him?

Dear Annie: My problem isn’t new. I’m sure many women have experienced it. I love deeply a man I’ve known for 15 years. He’s been in and out of my life, but my heart’s been involved all along. Lately, I feel like a convenience to him. I feel he’s constantly on the prowl. He always brings up other women under the guise of talking about his “friends.” He labels us as “friends,” but I have been so much more.

He’s wanted to be with me in the past, yet when I have embraced the relationship, he has made plans with other people. I can’t win. He sees himself as a great man and is unwilling to apologize for any wrong or shortcomings. He’s got more excuses and tall tales than anyone I know. I do care about him, but I’m so confused. And when I try to share my doubts with him, I get blown off.

I have lessened my contact and have opened other options. But how do you just end 15 years of all of this — the hurt, support, hope? Do you think he’s a narcissist or a sociopath? How do you have a relationship with someone who only cares about himself? I guess you don’t — but then how do you get your heart free? I just want real love; is that so wrong? I feel stupid, but I still can’t help but feel hopeful. I’m strong and then weak.

— Befuddled Doormat

Dear Befuddled Doormat: To your many questions, there is only one real answer, and you already know what it is. You need to drop this man like a bad habit. None of this “staying friends” business. He’d manipulate you into hoping for more. You need to quit him cold turkey. Block his number; block him online; avoid places he hangs out; distance yourself from mutual friends.

He’s not going to like it. After all, you’ve provided him validation for 15 years. You can bet that at some point, he’ll try wriggling his way into your life to get you back on the hook. Work on building up your self-esteem — through new hobbies, more time with friends or therapy — so when that day comes, you won’t take the bait.

Dear Annie: I have a question about sympathy cards. In many obituaries, it says, “In lieu of flowers, make a donation to (an organization).” If I do this, should I mention it on the card to the family? What is the proper thing to do?

— Carolyn in Connecticut

Dear Carolyn: Many online donation forms will allow you to include both your name and the name of the person whom you’d like to commemorate with your contribution. If sending a check, you can add an “in memory of” note on the memo line. If you’d like to be sure the bereaved will be notified of your contribution, call and confirm it with the organization, or mention it in the card. That’s perfectly fine.

Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com

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