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Vacation ‘mystery theft’ leaves couple in limbo

DEAR AMY: My boyfriend and I have been together for eight years, but live separately. Recently he told me that if I don’t see him as a life-long partner, then we should break up. He said I don’t trust him and that mistrust shows up on day-to-day interactions, especially when we travel. I have an anxiety disorder, diabetes and food allergies, so I need to know exactly where we are going, where to eat, etc. He is more casual about it. The mistrust stems from my suspicion that he stole my money while we were traveling two years ago. He said he didn’t do it, but I lost $200 the day we got to the destination, and then 10 days later it magically reappeared in my money bag. I am very meticulous with my money. I even wrote down the serial numbers of the bills. What I have not told him was that one day I looked into his wallet. I found three fresh $20 bills that matched my missing bills. I know if I told this to him, he would want to break up. I have already forgiven him, but he keeps bringing it up as an issue of mistrust. Should I tell him?

Forgiving

DEAR FORGIVING: Not every relationship must lead to forever, but your guy seems to be declaring that it is time to fish or cut bait. Either that or he is laying the groundwork for a breakup, by basically accusing you of deal-breaking behavior.

I can understand why your anxiety disorder might lead you to be hyper-vigilant regarding day-to-day interactions. But according to you, you have a concrete reason not to trust him, as well as evidence that he took money from you. But if he removed this money and then replaced it, what were his motivations? Was he testing you? Was he trying to gaslight you?

You say you have forgiven him for this transgression, but I wonder if you have — or if you should.

What you should NOT do is continue to sweep this under the rug. Now is the time for you to be brave enough to confront him about this and present him with the proof you claim to have.

He may deny your accusation. But after two years, this incident is not going away. It seems to be symbolic of your larger problem as a couple, which is the inability to communicate about your behavior (hyper-vigilance), and his behavior (blaming and shaming), in order to find ways to move forward as a trusting, loving couple.

DEAR AMY: My neighbors are very nice, but they are irresponsible pet owners. If not for me feeding their cat daily, I fear she’d be left to depend only on leftovers. This sweet kitty is left outdoors, even on cold nights. I give my own cat the royal treatment. If this indifference continues, should I confront my neighbors, report them or simply carry on as I am?

Nice Neighbor

DEAR NEIGHBOR: It sounds as if this cat roams between your houses, and if she seems attached and happy with both households, then that might be a pretty good life for her.

If you don’t know, ask your neighbors if the cat is feral, or if the cat is their pet. It is certainly possible that you and your neighbors have both been feeding a feral kitty. She should be spayed.

You might be tempted to ask if you could adopt this cat, but keep in mind that this outdoor kitty might not do well with your indoor cat.

Otherwise, I don’t think this is a reportable situation — it likely depends on where you live (you could call your local shelter to ask). Many cats do basically live outdoors.

I saw a neat item recently — basically a small heated cat house intended for outdoor cats to shelter in. If you are willing to purchase and plug one in to your outdoor outlet during cold snaps, this cat (or other outdoor cats) could use it during the coldest nights.

DEAR AMY: “Devoted but Hesitant Daughter” outlined her abusive mother’s serious mental and emotional challenges and wondered about visiting with the kids. Thank you for suggesting that it might be safe to make a “totally supervised, and probably short” visit with her children. Children will not break if exposed to challenging people, as long as parents are awake and aware.

Been There

DEAR BEEN THERE: I agree. I applaud “Devoted’s” careful instincts, but as I responded, her mother’s mental illness “is not contagious.”

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