Dear Abby: I have been married twice. My first marriage lasted 20 years, the second one about four years.
During my first marriage, I started cheating seven months after our wedding. My wife knew about some of the affairs and stuck with me anyway. I finally felt so guilty for hurting her emotionally, I called it quits and married the last woman I cheated on her with.
My second marriage was in many ways better. I was able to remain faithful for more than three years before cheating again. I feel terrible that I have hurt another woman I loved, but I have now fallen in love with the woman I’m cheating with.
It’s like I’m in a perpetual cycle and don’t know how to stop. I want this relationship to be my last one. I want to remain faithful and committed, but I’m scared to death I'll end up cheating on her and let us both down.
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I’m not proud of how I treated my exes, but I can’t change the past. How do I change this pattern of behavior so I can be a faithful and devoted partner?
I respect you for recognizing you have established a pattern and admitting it. The most effective way to break a “perpetual cycle” would be to understand exactly what has driven it. I don’t think this is something you can or should do on your own. That’s why I recommend you schedule some sessions with a licensed mental health professional before making another trip to the altar.
Dear Abby: Is there a rule of etiquette regarding Christmas presents at this point in the year? I have boxes full of gifts for some friends and their children. These friends live no more than 30 minutes away, but have canceled every plan we have made since the middle of November. They know I have the gifts, and I’ve asked them to stop and get them out of my home, even if they don’t have time to come in and visit.
When I try to make plans to bring them their gifts, they say they have errands to run and they'll let me know when they’re home. Then they wait until the next day to tell me they forgot, or they were out longer than expected.
We have no idea what’s going on in each other’s lives past the point of social media, which has shown me they’re minutes from my house at least once or twice a week. I understand life is busy, but it feels like they’re purposely avoiding me at this point.
Most of the gifts are personalized and can’t be returned or repurposed. But for those that aren’t, at what point is it OK to give up trying to deliver them and return them to the seller?
Tired of Waiting
Sometimes no message sends a strong one. By now it should be clear to you that those folks are not interested in receiving anything from you, and are probably not eager to continue any sort of personal relationship. If you need my permission or encouragement to return the items — if, indeed, any of them are still returnable — I’m giving it to you now.
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, CA 90069.