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DEAR ABBY: This is nearly 25 years late, but I need to apologize to someone.

When I was a junior in high school, I dated "Carole." She had many fine qualities and I really enjoyed her company. After Carole and I had dated for nearly a year, I met "Marie." She was cute and exciting, and I immediately fell in love with her. Marie broke up with her boyfriend and I broke up with Carole so we could be together. (I'll never forget the day I broke up with Carole. She was at a friend's house when I told her. She stood on the porch crying as I drove away to meet Marie.)

I joined the military after graduation and married Marie later that same year. Our marriage lasted 10 months. Marie left me for another guy -- the same way she had left her boyfriend in high school for me. Carole married a great guy a few years after high school. They have been together for more than 20 years.

To Carole: I'm sorry I hurt you. I should have chosen you over Marie. Everyone saw that but me. You and I probably would have had a nice life together. I hope you're happy. If there's one thing I have learned over the years, it's that the "flashiest" people aren't always the right choices. -- TONY FROM GREENVILLE HIGH

DEAR TONY: Some people learn more from their mistakes than their successes, and you are one of them. Sometimes what is best for us is right in front of us. Recognizing what you DON'T want can be a giant step in the right direction. I hope you have put that knowledge to good use.

DEAR ABBY: I have an unusual dilemma. My husband, "Keith," and I have been married for three years. He is my dearest and closest friend.

The problem is, Keith works for his sister, "Kathie," in the shop she owns. Several nights a week she holds "dinner meetings" after work, but I am never invited to join them. When their parents host family get-togethers, Kathie says they're "business-related" -- and again I am excluded.

For the longest time I thought I could live with and accept my sister-in-law's non-acceptance of me. However, she has started telling lies about me to my husband, and calling him at all hours to come to her house when something needs fixing.

I have confronted Kathie to no avail. Abby, what advice can you offer to end this bizarre "real life" nightmare? -- OUT IN THE COLD IN COLORADO

DEAR OUT IN THE COLD: Encourage your husband to find another job with no strings attached. And help him to recognize that his sister's behavior is toxic to your marriage.

P.S. If Keith doesn't get the message, marriage counseling is in order. If he won't go, go without him.

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend is crazy about me. We are both 23 and have been dating only a month. He repeatedly tells me how much he loves and cares about me. Sometimes I feel suffocated.

My problem is I'm not sure if I want to date exclusively. I am immersed in my studies and hope to establish myself in a great job -- my lifelong dream. What should I do? -- GRACIELA IN BRAZIL

DEAR GRACIELA: Your boyfriend may be on the up-and-up, but pushing for a quick, exclusive commitment is one of the warning signs of an abuser. Tell him to put on the brakes because this romance is moving too fast for you. Explain, straightforwardly, what your goals are, and how you hope to pursue them. They may -- or may not -- be compatible with his. But at least you'll have a clearer understanding of how you both want to live your lives.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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