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Dear Annie: Dazed and confused

Dear Annie: I have been with my boyfriend, “Hugo,” for 11 years. I recently discovered that for the past year, he has been receiving calls on his cell phone from “Janet,” a woman we know from a weekly social function. When I confronted him, he admitted it, but said it was only friendship and nothing more. He said they went to lunch a few times because they work near each other.

I am very upset that Hugo hid this from me. According to our phone bill, he and Janet spoke three to four times a week, sometimes more than once a day. Several of the calls were as long as 40 minutes.

Hugo claims he has not spoken with Janet since I found out about the calls, nor did he tell her what I knew. Nonetheless, somehow Janet miraculously stopped calling his cell phone. When we attended our weekly social function, they did not speak at all, and Janet didn’t even come over to say hello as she normally would.

Obviously, Hugo told her what I knew. Now, every time he goes to work, I think they are talking on the office phone so I won’t see the bills. I love Hugo very much. He has never done anything like this before, and I don’t know what to do. I am very upset, but he tells me I need to let it go. I can’t seem to do that. Any suggestions? — Dazed and Confused

Dear Dazed: Whether or not Hugo did anything other than chat and have lunch with another woman, he still lied to you, and that is the real problem, because it undermined your trust in him. Now you aren’t sure what he’s doing and with whom. For you to “let it go,” Hugo needs to make it right.

Ask Hugo to go with you for couples counseling to work on your trust issues. He’ll say you are blowing things out of proportion, but tell him this is the price he must pay for lying to you. If he refuses, you might want to reconsider this relationship.

Dear Annie: I was angry at your response to “California Reader,” who said a friend was killed by an inmate with whom she had corresponded. My son is an inmate who loves to get mail, and he asks for nothing other than friendship. He would in no way hurt a pen pal.

Yes, there are some inmates who may do this, but when you imply ALL inmates, it really gets me. What do you know about them? There are some very nice inmates who stay out of trouble and only wish for a card or letter from the outside. How dare you! — Mom of a Good Guy

Dear Mom: We’re sure your son is a nice fellow, but our readers cannot know that from the outside. There is risk in corresponding with inmates, and we are not about to tell our readers to go ahead and take the chance because your son happens to be one of the good guys. Read on:

Dear Annie: Please advise women NOT to become pen pals with prisoners. I just retired from working at a maximum security prison where every inmate is in solitary confinement. You would be shocked at the number of these violent felons, especially on Death Row, who have six or eight emotionally needy women writing to them and sending money.

These men are master manipulators, and they have nothing to do except sit and write to all their girlfriends, professing their innocence and the “horrible way” they are treated. They will say anything to get what they want, which is primarily money. These women cannot rehabilitate them. Instead, they become victims.

If these women need to write to somebody, tell them to write a lonely soldier in Iraq. If they want to help someone, they should volunteer at a homeless shelter. There are plenty of ways to meet people without risking the emotional devastation of being manipulated by one of these felons. — Gainesville, Fla.

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