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Annie’s mailbox: Little sympathy for mistress

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Dear Annie: My best friend, "Tiffany," is in an emotional rut. She is seeing a married man and is devastated by the fact that she is the Other Woman. She knew he was married when she started seeing him, but she didn't expect it to affect her as much as it does. She fell totally in love with this man, and he fell for her. The problem is, he hasn't told his wife he is unhappy and seeing another woman. He relies on his wife for financial assistance, while he relies on my best friend for love.

Tiffany's feelings are getting more out of control (she cries daily) because she doesn't have the man she loves. She can't stand the thought that he is sleeping with his wife. She keeps asking me for help and words of wisdom, and I have none to give her. She is so in love and yet so heartbroken. How can I help her through this despair? —Worried About Losing a Friend

Dear Worried: As much as we feel sorry for Tiffany's anguish, we can't work up too much sympathy for a woman who deliberately involved herself with a married man. What was she thinking? These things rarely end well. He may be telling her the truth, but married men often say what their mistresses want to hear. It will take a lot of strength for Tiffany to remove herself from this situation, and she may not be willing. The most you can do for her is be a good listener and provide the tissues.

Dear Annie: I am a 13-year-old girl who needs some advice. I am perfectly fine with my shape, except for my stomach. I've always had what my parents call a "Buddha belly." Is there a way to lose this extra weight without damaging my body?

I talked to my dad, and he said healthy eating would help. Is there any way to make it move faster? —Tummy Conscious in California

Dear Tummy: A little tummy is perfectly natural, and there's only so much flattening you can (or should) do. At 13, your body is still developing, and there is nothing wrong or unusual about having a rounded tummy. If you want to work on tightening up your stomach muscles, sit-ups are generally effective. Talk to your gym teacher and ask for suggestions.

Dear Annie: In your response to "Attacked in Wisconsin," you repeated a general misunderstanding about employment discrimination and hostile-environment protections. Workers are not entitled under federal law to a "hostility free" workplace if the hostility is based solely on personal animosity. The laws protect only workers in specific cases, such as age, race, national origin, religion, disability and gender. Personal hostility is not actionable unless it becomes so bad it violates a law (stalking, harassment, assault) or a specific workplace rule.

In the case of "Attacked," it sounds like a co-worker has some personal animosity toward the victim. If this is the case, there is little that can be done by the supervisor beyond possibly counseling the co-worker about inappropriate behavior, which it appears the supervisor is unwilling to do.

Too often, workers faced with hostility in the workplace quit before determining the real extent of any workplace protections. Unfortunately, many times the employee has no recourse against the employer and, because the employee quit, the employee may not be entitled to receive unemployment benefits for an extended period of time. Any employee who thinks his or her rights in the workplace are being infringed should contact an attorney. —Diana J. Vogt, J.D., Omaha, Neb.

Dear Diana J. Vogt: Thanks for the clarification. Since "Attacked" works with children, it is vitally important that her reputation be protected. We hope she will speak to an attorney immediately and see if she has any legal options.

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. © Creators Syndicate Inc.