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Man still depends on ex-wife for everyday needs

DEAR ABBY: I have been with my boyfriend, “John,” for a year and a half. He had been divorced for two years after a 20-year marriage when we got together. He told me he and his ex, “Jessica,” were still good friends. I thought it was OK since they were co-parenting their kid. I have children of my own, and I understand.
I gave up everything and moved two hours away to move in with John. Then I realized he was constantly talking and texting with her. Then I noticed all the food containers in the fridge were from her. It made me realize how much he depends on Jessica. John told me they divorced because they grew apart.
When we discussed it further, John admitted he still depends on Jessica for everything from dinners to paying his bills and daily conversations. They are both in relationships and continue to act like this. Their “kid” is now 18 and has graduated from high school. Am I wrong for not wanting to move forward in this relationship? John doesn’t seem to want or need me. — CONFUSED IN MONTANA

DEAR CONFUSED: To say that John is overly dependent on Jessica would be an understatement, and Jessica seems to like it that way. You’re not wrong for preferring not to move forward in this relationship; you are intelligent. For you to move forward, Jessica would have to step aside — and it appears that neither she nor John is open to doing that.
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DEAR ABBY: I am a petite, 53-year-old woman who works out four to five times a week, so I’m in very good shape. I often perform manual labor jobs instead of hiring someone or using equipment. I regard it as an opportunity for an extra workout. Someday I may have to take the easier path, but not yet.
When people see me do things that are considered hard work, they presume I need help. For instance, today I bought 30 cement blocks to start building a wall. Several men asked if I needed help. I refused politely as I always do, saying they were thoughtful to offer but I didn’t need help. They replied, “No problem.”
A short time later it started raining. A woman walked by carrying an umbrella and offered to help, and I responded just as politely. She put her umbrella down and started lifting the blocks into my car anyway! I said, “No need. You were sweet to offer, but I’m getting my morning workout.” She took offense and snapped, “Sorry to ‘impose.’ I was trying to help,” and stalked off! This happens often.
I feel bad after these encounters. It seems I am perceived as ungrateful, but if I need help, I will ask for it. How can I convey this more effectively, or must I just accept the help? — TRYING HARD IN OHIO

DEAR TRYING HARD: If multiple people are offended when you refuse their offers of help, there may be something wrong with the way you’re delivering your message. Sometimes it isn’t what we say but the words we choose or their tone that can be off-putting. My advice is to talk this over with some of your friends and see how they react.
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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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