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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Is Still Holding Fast to Fiance Who Disappeared

DEAR ABBY: About a year ago, a tragedy occurred in my life. I was engaged to be married to a man I had loved since the day I met him.

It was six weeks before the wedding, and my dress had finally arrived. I was so excited. I eagerly rushed two hours to my parents' home to have it fitted. It was Mother's Day weekend, so I spent the weekend with my mother. When I returned home, I found a letter from my fiance stating that he was gone and would not be back. He said he loved me and would give anything if he thought our relationship could work, but he was certain it wouldn't.

That was all I got. I never heard from him again. He moved out of state, and no one -- including his parents, who had told me they loved me -- would have anything to do with me, or give me any clue as to why he left the way he did. They wouldn't even return my calls.

I love him with all my heart and would still marry him today. I'm trying to go on with my life, but I'm having trouble dating and wonder if I'll ever be able to love again. Will the way I feel about him ever change? Am I crazy? I've tried to explain to my family that I knew someone totally different than they did. They see only this horrible man who broke their loved one's heart. Don't you think he at least owes me an explanation of why he chose to leave the way he did? -- TORMENTED IN TENNESSEE

DEAR TORMENTED: Absolutely. But if you haven't received one by now, you're not likely to get one. By not facing you, your fiance took the coward's way out. For his parents to not return your phone calls was brutal. (I wonder if he's in the witness protection program?)

You're not crazy, but I suspect you're still shell-shocked from the way the engagement was broken. You will have some issues to resolve having to do with trust, but I have no doubt that you will be able to love again. For the present, some professional counseling could help you talk out your understandable pain and disappointment.

DEAR ABBY: My best friend, "Ronald," and I decided to start dating a month ago. He recently told me that he loves me, and I think I love him, too.

My problem is, about a year ago, I got out of a three-year marriage that went totally wrong. We married very young: I was 17, he was 23. During my divorce, I began to wonder what "love" really is. I thought I knew and that's why I got married. Now I'm just not sure.

Ronald is a really great guy. I respect him and I know he respects me because of the friendship that we have. Please help me define love, as this is important. -- KELLY, ONTARIO, CANADA

DEAR KELLY: Love means liking a person as well as loving him or her. If the most important part of your relationship is physical, and you don't seem to have much to talk about -- face it, it's just a physical attraction. Love is giving, not taking. It wants the best for the one you love. Love makes you want to charge out into the world and DO as well as THINK big. It makes you want to share your thoughts and dreams -- it's honest and open. Love doesn't arrive in an instant. It takes time to grow and flower, and when the storms of life blow in, it doesn't wither.

Make no more hasty decisions. Continue to date Ronald, and in six months, compare your feelings to my definition of love. If they measure up, you will know it's love.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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