Dear Abby:

While I was visiting, my best friend's live-in companion stole some money out of my purse. I told my friend, and she confronted him in my presence. He lied about it and denied it. Because I had stopped at the store on the way over there, I knew exactly how much cash was in my purse and where it was located. The circumstances left no room for doubt. I was heartbroken, as was she.

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I decided not to stay for dinner and left in tears. My friend and I have spoken on the phone since. She said she knows by the way he is acting that he probably did it, but she does not wish to bring it up to him.

She has requested that I find a way to forgive him and resume visiting them. I have already forgiven him for many things he has done to her, including cheating. I feel this is just too much. When a child is caught stealing, the child owns up to it and is made to apologize. Am I wrong?

-- Appalled

in Clinton, Mich.

Dear Appalled:

You are correct as far as children are concerned. But this man is not a child, and your friend is not his mother, so don't hold your breath waiting for an apology. They have an unhealthy relationship, and I don't blame you for feeling as you do.

I recommend that from now on, you see your friend apart from her companion. However, if you decide to relent, lock your purse in the trunk of your car before entering their home.

Dear Abby:

I have been dating "Mike" for three years. We have just become engaged. The problem? Every so often Mike's mother invites him to dinner -- and when she does, she excludes my two children and me. I know this may seem petty, but it hurts my feelings and makes me feel left out of his family.

Mike has a married sister with children, and she's never invited without her family. This is hurtful for two reasons: I am from a different part of the country, and my family is more than 1,000 miles away; and my mother recently passed away.

I have discussed how alone I feel without my family with Mike and his mother on several occasions. Mike has dinner with me and my children every night. We are trying to create a family atmosphere, because he will be their stepfather soon. (It's a feat to include another person in my grocery budget, but I feel I should because we're becoming a family unit.)

Am I off my rocker or being selfish? I don't want to seem petty.

-- Excluded

in Pennsylvania

Dear Excluded:

I don't think you are being petty or selfish, but I do think you're being overly clingy. For a mother to invite her son to dinner alone occasionally is not a rejection of you. She may have things she wants to discuss with him privately. After you and Mike are married that may -- or may not -- change.

I don't know what kind of relationship you have with Mike's mother, but if she hasn't taken you into her heart after three years, it may be time to accept the fact that she is incapable of being the mother figure you would like her to be. Therefore, I encourage you to look elsewhere for that kind of female-bonded relationship.

Also, if Mike has been eating dinner at your house for any length of time "because you are becoming a family unit," rather than allowing you to struggle with your grocery budget, he should have been contributing to it. Please suggest it.