Dear Abby:

I am happily married; my husband, "Jim," would do anything for me.

There is only one problem. I think I am insane. I have no valid reason to think he's cheating on me and he assures me he's not, but I make up scenarios in my head. They escalate to the point where I accuse him, and he looks at me like I'm nuts. He asks why I would think he cheats and swears that he'd never do that to me.

An example: Today we went out to eat with his family. His sister brought a friend along. She introduced her to all of us. I was introduced as Jim's wife, of course.

Jim and I met his sister's friend at the same time. They didn't talk to each other or even look at each other all day. Jim held my hand, hugged me, and was as loving as always.

All the while, I was cooking up ideas in my head like: Maybe he goes over to his sister's house and sees her, and they're not talking to each other because they don't want me to get suspicious.

I have never been cheated on in my life by any man, yet I have been this way in all my serious relationships.

I am in my early twenties. I have a 5-year-old son, a husband I love, and yet I can't help accusing him of cheating. Even when he shaves, I think he's doing it for someone else.

Can you advise me what to do?

Possibly Insane in Missouri

My goodness. You certainly have an active fantasy life -- and all of it negative. Could you be watching too many soap operas? Did your father cheat on your mother?

Whatever is going on, your thinking is self-defeating.

Since you know rationally that your problem is all in your head, the quickest way to figure out what's going on in there would be to ask your physician for a referral to a qualified psychotherapist. Please don't put it off, or your worst fears could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Dear Abby:

I desperately need some guidance because I'm afraid I'm putting myself in grave danger.

I lost my virginity when I was 16 to a boy I hardly knew. I am now 20 and off to college, and I have literally lost count of the number of men I have had sex with. Only a handful of them have actually been boyfriends. I always feel horrible and used after sex, not to mention that I am constantly worried about STDs and pregnancy since I never use protection. Yet I can't stop being promiscuous, and I can't settle down with any one person. My self-worth has disintegrated, and sex has become meaningless to me.

Abby, please set me straight. I'm so lost and don't know who to confide in.

Scared and Ashamed in Washington

Thank you for trusting me with your problem. When you get to school, check in with the student health center. You need to be examined -- and treated, if necessary -- for STDs. You also need to talk to a mental health professional to understand what has been driving your sexually compulsive behavior. (Often the reasons have nothing to do with sexual desire.) You are right that your behavior could have serious consequences, physically and emotionally. So please make getting professional help your first priority.

From My Collection of Limericks:

There was a young girl from St. Paul

Who wore a newspaper dress to a ball.

The dress caught on fire

And burned her entire

Front page, sports section and all.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.

(c)2004, Universal Press Syndicate