Dear Annie: I am a somewhat attractive, financially independent woman in her 50s, and I've been divorced for 27 years. I have been involved with the same man on and off for the past 12 years. We became involved while he was separated — or so I was informed. It took me a while to discover this was not totally accurate, and we stopped seeing each other until he obtained a divorce. His children hate me, even though I was not to blame for his choice.
He eventually cheated on me, and afterward I discovered that he had cheated several times during his 19-year marriage. I removed him from my life for quite some time but unfortunately let him back in after he claimed he was very much in love with me and did not want to be with anyone else. We went through counseling, and I thought we were moving forward, only to discover several months later he was chasing strippers. I was an even bigger idiot and still let him back in my life.
We do not spend holidays together, although I do see him weekly. We also work in the same town and are both well-known. I know he lies to his family, business clients and me so he can do whatever he wants. Though we had previously purchased a home together, he recently chose to purchase a different home in which to live. His ego and arrogance are insurmountable, yet I have been unable to let him go and remove him permanently from my life. I truly need to find a way to extricate myself and move forward so that I can live a life with someone who actually wants to be with me. What is wrong with me, and how do I break this vicious cycle, seeing as this is clearly my issue and not his? — Weak and on Bended Knee
Dear Weak: First, be nicer to yourself. Calling yourself an idiot or weakling only contributes to low self-esteem, which is most likely why you're hung up on this lowlife in the first place.
You're smart; you've got a good handle on the situation and what you need to do. Sometimes the head needs to lead the way and the heart will follow. In other words, start pretending you're really over this man and, in time, you will be.
To do this, you must first make a clean break. If you still have any assets together, disentangle them, and then cut off all communication. When you find your hand hovering over the phone — dangerously close to his number — call a friend instead, or just go for a walk. It might seem overwhelming, but just take it one day at a time. I promise it will get easier. When he comes crawling back again — and he will — resist. You will feel infinitely stronger afterward.
Dear Annie: I am shocked when I am at a dinner party and see people eating before the hosts sit down with their meal. What if someone wants to make a toast or say a blessing before the meal? Is this the new normal in dining etiquette? — Call Me Old-Fashioned
Dear Call: I'll only call you polite. Unless the host specifically insists otherwise (e.g., "Please, start eating before your food gets cold"), you should absolutely not begin eating until he or she is seated and there has been time to say grace. This gracious person took the time to prepare a beautiful meal to share with guests and shouldn't be treated like a waiter. So no, you're not old-fashioned. Good manners never go out of style.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected] To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.