DEAR ABBY: My partner of 11 years has decided he is no longer in love with me. He says it's because he thinks I cheated on him. I have told him repeatedly that it didn't happen, which is the truth.

Long story short, he says he wants us to start over as friends and see where things go because he doesn't want to be in a relationship with anyone right now. However, he's sleeping with a 22-year-old here in the home we share. I love him so much that it hurts. When I tell him every day that I love him, he tells me he knows. Should I hold out for him, or tell him the "friends" thing is not going to work and cut ties altogether? -- CONFUSED AND LOST GUY

DEAR GUY: I don't blame you for feeling confused and lost, considering the mixed messages you have been getting from your partner. What you are experiencing now is, of course, painful. He is making excuses for wanting to trade you in for a newer model. This is why he is accusing you of having done something that he is doing under your nose.

The only true confession he has uttered is that he doesn't want to be in a relationship. That is your cue to head for the door.

DEAR ABBY: My family includes a niece and her husband with three kids ranging in age from 8 months to 7 years old. The middle child, a 5-year-old girl, is allowed to choose her own outfits for family gatherings and school, with appalling results. Her hair, which is long and tangled, goes unbrushed. Her ill-fitting clothes are worn and inappropriate for the weather and school. When I discussed it with her parents, their answer fell flat.

Because she's learning to dress herself without parental guidance, she's not learning what's appropriate. When they came for Thanksgiving dinner the child showed up in summer clothes -- sleeveless top, thin cotton skirt, etc. By the end of the evening, she appeared ill.

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I'm surprised neglect charges haven't been filed against the parents. Any suggestions to get across to them that their parenting style is lacking? -- WORRIED RELATIVE

DEAR WORRIED: Your dilemma isn't how to get across to the parents that they need to teach their child better fashion choices. If that little girl is going around with tangled hair and summer clothes in cold weather, it may be that her parents are unable or unwilling to give her the basics. You should talk to these parents again and voice your concerns.

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