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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Because of your vast readership, I am writing to you in the hope that by printing my letter, perhaps other women (and probably some men) will learn from my mistakes.

Three years ago, I had a torrid affair with a man right after my divorce. This guy was so charming that before I got wise to him and broke off the relationship, I had lent him a considerable sum of money. I had no promissory note, so all was lost.

A year later, I met someone I thought was perfect for me. He was absolutely beguiling, attentive as could be, and he made me feel terrific. He was very well thought of, and an outstanding man in the community.

A few months ago, he was short of money, so I lent him my entire savings with the understanding that I would be repaid in full within the next few weeks. I was "in love," trusted him, and didn't want to "insult" him by asking him to sign a note. Well, so far, I've heard every excuse in the book as to why he can't pay me back, and I'm afraid this will have to be settled in court. Also, I am dealing with the humiliating realization that this guy never really gave a hoot about me.

I made two major mistakes: lending the money in the first place, and not getting it in writing.

Abby, please find room for this in your column as a warning to other women who let their hearts rule their heads. -- RIPPED OFF IN COLORADO

DEAR RIPPED OFF: Nobody can tell it like the person who has been there. Too bad you will never know how many women will benefit from reading this letter.

DEAR ABBY: After putting on a wedding for our daughter, I feel the public could use some do's and don'ts on wedding etiquette.

1. Always respond to an invitation when an R.S.V.P. stamped, addressed card and envelope are provided. The hostess needs a "Yes, I am coming," or, "Sorry, I cannot attend." Many respond only to say they are planning to attend.

2. If you do accept the invitation, please come to the reception -- as your host and hostess must pay for your reservation. (We had to foot the bill for eight dinners at $25 per person for people who accepted but did not show up.) A cancellation up to five days before the big event is usually enough to avoid this problem.

3. Please do not include on your response card any more family members (or friends) than have been invited. Reservations are limited, and it is rude to add extra uninvited guests. If it is crucial for an added guest to come, please ask the hostess for permission to do so.

4. After accepting a wedding reception invitation, it is in good taste to send a gift.

Thank you, Abby, for helping me air my frustrations. -- MOTHER OF THE BRIDE IN YORK, PA.

"How to Be Popular" is an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person. To order, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

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