DEAR ABBY: I am in love with a married man. He has four children. I am also married with two children. I have a great job and appear to be very happy. In truth, I am under great stress, break into tears for no reason at all, can't sleep or eat, and feel that my life is on a roller coaster.

From the first, we agreed that neither of us would ever leave our spouses and we would not let our affair interfere with our marriages. Of course, that's impossible.Is it worth it? Of course not. But I'm terrified at the thought of not having him in my life - and I don't know why. We both have loving, caring spouses, so it's not as though we are lonely, abused or sex-starved. Some days I feel as though I'm coming apart at the seams.

How can I break this cycle? "Just break it off" sounds so easy, but I just can't do it. I see him often because we have mutual friends and community activities in common. Please help me.


DEAR MESSED UP: This may sound like a broken record, but you are sick! Lovesick. And the only cure for that is psychotherapy. Yes, counseling. I have long maintained that love is a "mental disease" - and people can actually become lovesick. You need a therapist to help you become better acquainted with your emotions, and learn how they are tied to your physical desires (love, lust or whatever you want to call it).

You can regain your sanity if you really want to and try hard enough. I wish you well.

DEAR ABBY: You have printed several letters pertaining to this subject, but please print this as a reminder:

Please, if you are a stranger, do not touch my baby. If you see us walking on the street and you want to see him, do so. Do not grab his hands and play "pat-a-cake"; do not touch his head or try to pick him up. You are a stranger; I do not know you. I do not know if you have any diseases - not just the obvious ones; you may have poison ivy, a cold, you may not have washed your hands, and heaven knows where they have been.

You may admire him, ask me how old he is, smile at him and talk to him, but please do not touch him! I would hate to have to be rude to otherwise friendly well-wishers, but this has been bothering me for quite a while, as I am sure it bothers other mothers. - A FRIENDLY BUT CAUTIOUS MOMMY

DEAR FRIENDLY BUT CAUTIOUS: Your problem is one that has bothered mothers for years. Save the speech. When someone admires your baby and moves toward touching him, quickly and firmly say, "Please don't touch the child. Thank you." And if the would-be toucher is hurt and annoyed, that's his or her problem.

A CHUCKLE OR A GROAN? "Happily, good things come to those Kuwaits." - June Foray Donovan, Woodland Hills, Calif., in The Wall Street Journal

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