Dear Ann:

My "significant other" (I'll call her Jasmine), after shacking up for two days with a former lover, suggested that we continue to be "companions." We were once married, but divorced after a few years, and have been going steady for nearly 20 years. We do not live together, but those who know us consider us a couple.

We had agreed if there was a problem, we would discuss it and try to work out a solution. The first inkling I had of the affair was when Jasmine called me from the airport to say she was headed out to meet her former lover, who was only in this country for a short time. I did not ask her any questions about her plans, and she didn't volunteer any details.

When she returned, she said there was no reason we couldn't continue our relationship as we had in the past, and that she intended to see the other guy three or four times a year. I told Jasmine she had no moral standards and that I wanted nothing more to do with her.

She claims she cannot understand my pain and disappointment, and sees no reason for me to be upset. Is this woman a sociopath, or am I missing something?

Perplexed in Portland

You say you have been "going steady" with this woman for nearly 20 years, and now, she wants to meet a former lover three or four times a year? You are complaining that she has no moral standards. It sounds to me like the pot is calling the kettle black.

If you want this woman all to yourself, why haven't you remarried her? I think you two need a rest from one another so you can step back and reevaluate your relationship. I recommend it.

Dear Ann:

I could not resist the opportunity to tell "Freaking Out in California" how right she is. Cell-phone users have become downright rude.

My husband, along with others throughout the country, happens to own a scanner that can pick up cell-phone conversations. It truly amazes me that these yakkers are so free with their talk. It's like the old days when we had party lines, and all the neighbors could listen in on your telephone calls. Anyone with a scanner can pick up these conversations. Much of what I hear is unfit for human ears. Warn your readers to please watch their language, Ann.

Iowa Reader

You told 'em, and I hope they listen. I have had many letters from readers who pointed this out, and I hope you cell-phoniacs who read this will be aware that your conversations are not private. You should speak as if your minister were listening, because he just might be.

Dear Ann:

Your response to "Tom in Atkinson," whose friend still had his deceased wife's voice on the answering machine, was heavy-handed.

I married my wife after her father died. Her mother still keeps his voice on their answering machine, even though it's been five years since he passed away. The message he left is very funny, saying he's a robot. Whenever my wife calls and gets the machine, she says, "Hello, Daddy-bot," and leaves her message.

Nobody expects him to call back, nor do we think he's really alive somewhere. My wife is not living in denial. It's just a sweet way to remember her father's voice.

Greg in Lanham-Seabrook

I see your point, and stand corrected. Thanks for hauling me up short. I had it coming. As I said before--to each his own. If keeping a loved one's voice on the answering machine is comforting, so be it.

To find out more about Ann Landers and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.1999, Creators Syndicate Inc.