Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: I have been seeing a guy, "Casey," for three years. I have two children by another man, and Casey took them on as if they were his. They even call him "Daddy." I'm grateful I have someone who takes such good care of my kids. I can see myself spending the rest of my life with him.

There's just one problem. Casey has a hard time keeping a job. He has had more than a dozen jobs during the last three years. The only income we have is mine, and it's not very much. We struggle quite a bit, and we fight about money. Things would be better if Casey would get a job and keep it, but I can't get him to understand that. Sometimes I feel like he's using me.

I want to stay with Casey, but now and then I also think I'd be better off if I left him. What can I do to make him understand that he needs to keep a job? Or, because I love him, should I stand beside him no matter what?

— BREADWINNER IN OHIO

DEAR BREADWINNER: If Casey doesn't understand after three years that you need an equal partner in the relationship, I doubt you'll ever get that message through to him. As it stands, you appear to have a live-in baby sitter "with benefits." Add to that the fact that on some level you sense you are being used and would be better off without him, and I conclude that day care would not only be less expensive, it would also provide you a chance to meet a man who's willing to pull his own weight. Right now it appears you have three dependents.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I both work two jobs, and we have raised three wonderful children. Over the years we have watched our friends build bigger and bigger homes, drive fancy cars and take extended trips to exotic locations while my husband and I work paycheck to paycheck.

What bothers me is that many of my girlfriends were "gold diggers" who stole wealthy men from other women, and some of the men seem to make money by doing illegal things. They're all living high on the hog while I dodge bill collectors.

I thought I was making good decisions and being morally responsible, but apparently the "nice guy/nice gal comes in last." When do these people get what's coming to them, and when do I get a break?

— NICE GAL IN OHIO

DEAR NICE GAL: How about starting right now? Start by shedding those people from your life whom you find morally reprehensible and look for some whose values more closely resemble your own. And instead of obsessing about others "getting what's coming to them," concentrate on improving your own life.

If you're dodging bill collectors, find a credit counseling agency to help you deal with them. It won't happen overnight, but things will improve as you get your financial life in order.

Find a credit counseling agency that is approved by your Better Business Bureau or affiliated with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling or the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies.

Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.