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Dear Abby: I have been in love with “Richard” for 14 years. We broke up after we dated for a while because my alcoholic mother kept interfering. She kept telling me how “bad” he was for me, and I believed her.

After a divorce on my part and a breakup on his, we are now in a long-distance relationship. We hope to make our relationship permanent after getting to know each other again.

My problem is, when Richard is unhappy or upset with someone else, he takes it out on me. He’ll pick a fight over something inconsequential. The latest flare-up involved the fact that his dog was missing, so he picked a fight with me because I “always tell him how nice the weather is where I live.” He refuses to get counseling. What do I do?

– Pulling My Hair Out

Dear Pulling: Your problem isn’t that Richard uses you as a scapegoat for his frustrations; it’s that you tolerate it. It’s possible that because of your mother’s alcoholism and the unpredictable behavior you were subjected to, you have accepted Richard’s behavior.

Because he refuses counseling, YOU should get some. What he’s doing is emotional abuse. From my perspective, the healthiest thing you could do for yourself besides break up with Richard would be to keep the romance long distance.

Not ‘just’ a receptionist

Dear Abby: I am a retired woman, troubled by a recent incident involving a longtime friend. When we’re out meeting new people, she will introduce herself as being a secretary and me as “just” a receptionist. The job title is true, but I hold a college degree. I am chairwoman of the local Council on Aging, a Town Meeting member and on the Cultural Council.

Why does this make me feel so demeaned? Can you help me form a game plan?

– More Than a Job Title

Dear More Than a Job Title: Your “friend” is insecure. That she describes you as “just” a receptionist is her attempt to make her own job appear more important. “Just” tell her to cut it out or the friendship will be history.