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Beached wail

My boyfriend and I have a year-old son. His two small boys (from a previous marriage) live with us on weekends. A while back, he cheated and gave me herpes. Had I not been pregnant with our son (unplanned), I would've left him. But, I believe once you're pregnant, it's not about you, so I'm trying to make it work. But, I hold grudges and haven't been able to forgive him.

Also, his parents, who live next door, hate me, and have never stopped trying to break us up. They expect him and the two boys at their house for dinner on weekends and many weekdays without me. They show nasty favoritism, spending $300 on a toy for the two boys, but gave my son dollar-store outfits they knew wouldn't fit. Because my boyfriend's mother watches the two other boys after school for very little money (and our son at times, too, charging me four times more), moving isn't an option. — Stuck

If you discovered you were living over a radioactive waste dump, and Pol Pot, Adolf Hitler and a pedophile were moving in next door, I'm guessing your response wouldn't be, "Gee, pity we can't move." But, just add discount babysitting to the mix, and it's "So, Mr. Hitler, what brings you to the neighborhood?"

Beyond the childcare issue, you've got an incurable STD, a seemingly incurable grudge, the Wicked Witch of the 20 Feet to the West, and a plan — sitting around feeling sorry for yourself until Junior goes to college. It seems you've heard that good things come to those who wait. True, but unless you're making a soufflé or catching the bus, better things come to those who do something.

You do talk a good game — how "once you're pregnant, it's not about you." Noble words. If you actually believed them, your kid would have doting grandparents — the parents of the nice infertile couple you let adopt him after you gave birth. The real deal? You probably wanted a baby no matter what, and maybe thought it would be just the ticket to a little respect from the Evil Inlaw Empire. Not surprisingly, they immediately put him into grandchild steerage, and it doesn't sound that far-fetched to suspect they take the two boys to Disneyland, but when your kid comes over, they just take the childproof covers off the electrical outlets.

Your herpes may be a few billion research dollars from a cure, but a $19.95-a-day U-Haul will speed you, your kid and your mommy- and daddy-whipped boyfriend across town to a living situation where you won't spend your afternoons screaming into a paper bag. You might move into a duplex with another family with kids or set up childcare-sharing with four other families (one for each day of the week). Tragically, coming up with solutions like these will require you to stop merely bemoaning your fate and actually break a sweat. (Don't worry, you won't hurt it.)

But, first things first: Break up with your grudge and get back together with your boyfriend. You say you can't forgive him, but have you actually tried? You've got a kid; you can't just wait for your resentment to ebb away; you need to replace it with positive thoughts. There's increasing evidence of "neuroplasticity" — the ability to chemically remodel your brain by repeatedly focusing on changing, then repeating new thinking and behavior. Act loving — hug him, kiss him, tell him he's a great dad ... repeatedly — and it's likely you'll start to feel loving. You can then help him work on what he most needs to do — admit that there's a right time to cut the umbilical cord, and well, better 46½ than never.

Chummy ache

My boyfriend of three years wants to have single female friends and says I can have single male ones. I don't need single guy friends, but feel opposite-sex friends are fine if we see them as a couple. Isn't that how it should work? — Chafing

Unless he's a German shepherd or an unruly 3-year-old, you don't get to keep him on a leash. If you're insecure, work on getting more secure. If you don't trust him, don't be with him. Any grown man who isn't doing time should be allowed to meet, unsupervised, with any person of his choosing. You can't fulfill your boyfriend's every need, and he's going to relate differently one-on-one than he does three-on-one. The couple that shares everything and everyone ... bores each other unconscious. You'll know you're in trouble when you feel dumb saying, "Guess what, honey!" knowing there's no guessing needed by a man who's spent three years bolted to your side — not just trying to keep from finishing your sentences, but trying to keep from starting them, too.

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or adviceamy@aol.com. Read her blog and more at advicegoddess.com.

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