Couple’s trust issues multiply when old girlfriend reappears

Published 8:34 am Wednesday, March 4, 2020

DEAR ABBY: I dated a guy for 10 months. We constantly fought because of his lack of trust. He had been burned in previous relationships. He said, “Trust is earned, not given,” which isn’t my philosophy.

After a recent argument (about lack of trust), I told him this attitude is a deal-breaker, and he needed time to reflect on his issues. I talked to him several days a week during the process, and we weren’t intimate during that time.

I decided to have dinner with him at his apartment last night to further discuss the situation, only to have an old girlfriend ring his doorbell, upset. It seems that during the last five weeks, he had started seeing her again and slept with her while attempting to make amends with me. When I asked about her, he told me he thought we were done, and he was trying to put a Band-Aid on his pain. What to do?

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He has great qualities but is so jealous and suspicious. Will he ever improve, or will I always be trying to prove myself? I believe he cares for me, but his actions with the old girlfriend negate this. I cannot even begin to rationalize his thought process. — GETTING TIRED OF IT

DEAR GETTING TIRED: This guy is suspicious because HE isn’t trustworthy. There’s a saying attributed to historian, civil rights activist and author W.E.B. Du Bois: “A man does not look behind the door unless he has stood there himself.” People are often jealous and controlling because they are insecure. Your boyfriend ran back to his old girlfriend because he was unable to be alone, even for a brief period. Be smart. Wake up and lose him. You can do better.


DEAR ABBY: My father was physically abusive to me when I was a child, and distant and emotionally abusive when I was a teenager. Because of it, I had low self-esteem and was extremely depressed for most of my life. I confronted him when I was an adult, and he tried to explain why he was that way, but never apologized.

He is now 93 and in a nursing home. He probably won’t be alive much longer. I would like to get closure by telling him the extent to which his behavior damaged my life, but I know it would hurt him. Should I look for the closure I have needed all of my life, or keep it to myself to spare his feelings? — HURTING STILL IN COLORADO

DEAR HURTING: If you have things you need to get off your chest to your father, as painful as they may be, then do it. Explain calmly, in an even tone of voice, how important validation is to children as they develop, and how deeply his physical and emotional abuse has affected your life. I agree that he owes you an apology, but do NOT go there expecting one because he may be incapable of it.


DEAR ABBY: Today I was in a small neighborhood restaurant with a friend. I ordered a special burger. When the cook brought it to the table, my friend immediately pulled out her camera and snapped several shots. A stranger who had been sitting at the bar jumped off his stool and came over to our table with his camera. I’m not sure how many photos of my meal were taken before I was able to start eating. My friend was logging onto Facebook to post before I took my first bite. I was dumbfounded. What can be said to people who are this rude? — GET IT WHILE IT’S HOT

DEAR GET IT: What can be said? Plenty — starting with, “Knock it off!” or “I don’t like that!” Talk about an invasion of privacy as well as personal space. I don’t blame you for feeling invaded.


Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.


Good advice for everyone — teens to seniors — is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)