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by Abigail Van Buren

Love Won't Be Any Easier if Man Gets Second Chance

DEAR ABBY: I am 23 years old and was previously involved with a man who, at the beginning of our relationship, was married. At the time, I was 17 and about to graduate from high school, and had no previous relationship with a man.

As our relationship progressed, his wife found out about us and divorced him. They had a child who was born in the midst of their divorce. I thought the split would send him flying to my arms. However, that was not the case at all. Instead, he proceeded to sleep with everyone in a skirt who would give him the time of day. He denied our involvement with each other to everyone.

Even knowing all of this, I stayed for three years, and in the process I lost everything -- family, friends, jobs, just about everything I cherished. More important, I lost sight of myself, my goals, and the person I once thought I was. I thought if I loved him enough, he would change. Well, it didn't happen. What did happen was he got someone pregnant and lived with her for a year and a half. It was the last straw for me. I packed up and moved north and regained my life.

I stopped dating for a long time, found the best job I've ever had, and am back in school working on my degree. I am living on my own, and my life is better now than it's been in years.

Recently he left that other woman and has begun to better himself. He has a good job now and has matured a lot in the last five years. We have been talking, and he tells me that he loves me and has asked me to marry him.

Although he and I have been talking, I haven't told anyone in my family or my friends. I know they would not accept him.

Abby, I'm afraid of the outcome. I thought I had closed this chapter in my life, but now I'm not so sure. I always wanted to marry the first man I had ever been intimate with, and he seems genuine this time around. Should I give him a second chance? I know he put me through hell, and I'm leery of repeating it. Should I try again and hope it all works out? -- LOST IN LOVE, WOODLAND HILLS, CALIF.

DEAR LOST IN LOVE: When people ask me whether they should listen to their hearts or their heads, I advise them to listen to the part of their anatomy they THINK with.

It has taken you a long time to get your life back on track. This man sounds like a one-person wrecking crew. Should you try again "and hope it all works out"? Absolutely not.

DEAR ABBY: I have lived on the West Coast for more than 20 years. I go home to the East Coast every summer for four to five weeks. Friends and family insist on always treating when we go out to eat. When I protest, they say, "But we're so delighted that you spend your vacation visiting us," or, "But you spend all that money flying here to visit us."

Some of these people have visited me on the West Coast, and I've thought, "Now it's my turn." However, this time when I offered, the response was, "But you're saving us so much money by providing us a place to stay, use of a car and meals at home."

After all these years, I feel that the scales are very unbalanced. I try to be gracious and appreciative and always send thank-you notes. Can you suggest another strategy, Abby? -- EAST-WEST TRAVELER

DEAR TRAVELER: Since your hosts refuse to let you pay for anything when you visit them, reciprocate by sending them a lovely house gift after your return home. Include with it a short note reiterating how much you enjoyed their hospitality.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a 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, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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