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Amy Dickinson | Syndicated columnist

Dear Amy: My boyfriend and I have lived together for four years. He is in his 20s and I am in my early 30s.

We are working and struggling to get by. I never had any problem trusting him until recently.

He suddenly started hiding his phone and going out more without me. He used to always just leave his phone lying around. I never even looked through his phone, but when he started hiding it, I felt like something was wrong. He also started mentioning a female co-worker.

I asked what was going on. He denies anything is happening. He let me see the phone, but he had deleted all of his texts — sent and received.

I’m having a hard time believing him. He said he had a work event one day, but I found out later that this work event had actually happened on the previous day.

I have a feeling something is going on, but I have no proof. It is very hard for us to break up right now because we share a car. He also wouldn’t have anywhere to live. If he is not cheating, then I don’t want to break up.

If he is cheating, then I want to break up, but I don’t want him to lose his job or housing.

If it’s just a workplace flirtation, then I wouldn’t care, I just don’t like the lying and hiding.

And if there is nothing going on (like he says), then why is he lying?

Should I break up with him because I don’t trust him, or should I try to work on things? —Confused

Dear Confused: Every red flag for infidelity — cellphone secrecy, going out more often without you and lying about his whereabouts — is flapping in the breeze. You seem to have taken on the burden of proving what your gut is telling you, as well as “working on things” to repair the relationship. But he’s the person who needs to work on things. Aside from denying that he is stepping out on you, is he working to rebuild trust?

You need to ask yourself if you want to stay in this relationship, even if nothing changes.

Your guy’s job, commuting problems and living arrangements are his problem. If you can’t afford to part, you might consider continuing to cohabit as roommates, but not as a couple.

Dear Amy: My mother complains constantly that her teenage grandchildren do not call or text her; however, she does not call or text them either, claiming, “I just don’t want to bug anybody.” On the rare occasion that she does reach out, usually via text, she is never satisfied with their response. I encourage my children to text her, but she accuses me of putting them up to it. She wants them to call or text of their own volition.

As a parent, I feel it is my responsibility to coach my kids through lots of circumstances, and I don’t see why she sees it as a bad thing if they contact her because of my prompting, which I do because of her frequent complaints.

None of us wants to hurt her feelings, but it seems we just can’t win. Should I continue to coach the kids and not admit to putting them up to it, or allow natural consequences to occur and hope she gets the message — she doesn’t call them and they don’t call her? —Confused Coach

Dear Confused: Tell your mother (one more time) — “Mom, we can’t win here. You complain that the kids aren’t in touch. When they do reach out or respond, you don’t like it. They love you to pieces, but they can’t seem to get this right. I’m very sorry you are feeling this way, but I can’t seem to help, so I’m going to back off and let you handle this. If you want to complain about their habits, talk directly to them.”

Dear Amy: “Very Upset” was asking a simple favor of her son and daughter-in-law: to reciprocate dog-sitting. I can’t believe you sided with these selfish young adults who couldn’t be bothered to help their mother. —Dog Lover

Dear Dog Lover: I’ve found that if I ever want to stir the pot, I should run a question about dogs. My response to you and other readers is that the younger couple did offer to dog sit. The mother simply didn’t like the way they were going to do it.

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Contact Amy Dickinson via email: askamy@amydickinson.com. Readers may send postal mail to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her on Facebook.

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