Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: I am a woman in my 40s who was married twice. Both marriages were abusive. I have done a lot of work in overcoming these relationships, which included not dating anyone for over five years. Then I met him. It was mostly a sexual relationship and he awakened me in many other ways I had never experienced before. It was clear from the beginning that he didn't want a commitment, but over time he would act and talk as if we had a commitment. Then I learned of his other life. This includes an ex-wife and a child he lives with. He told me he is legally married to another woman to help her acquire citizenship. He also spends time with other lovers. I was devastated. I had decided to say goodbye. After some time he claimed to have missed me. I went back twice and essentially asked him to make a choice. He didn't choose me, but we carried on our affair. I then learned he gave me herpes despite practicing (mostly) safe sex. He has decided that we cannot talk anymore. Should I confront him again? I am extremely lonely, and finding another man has been quite challenging considering all my baggage. I have tried and have even met other men, but I either find them quite boring (i.e. safe) or find myself comparing them to the past.

Lonely in New York

DEAR LONELY: You say you have done a lot of work to overcome past abusive relationships, but evidently you have not done enough work to overcome -- and avoid -- your own terrible choices.

Every single thing you recount about this man tells me that, despite his obvious bad character, he has been relatively upfront with you. He consistently refuses to have the kind of relationship you want to have.

If you want to affect the outcome in future relationships, you not only will need to "get over" past relationships, but will need to change your own behavior to avoid such relationships.

There are scores of wonderful, nice, kind and sweet men out there, but as long as you find kindness and respect "boring," you will continue to choose men who deplete and disrespect you. When it comes to finding the right partner, my advice is to choose wisely, and act kindly.

You might benefit from reading "What Smart Women Know," by Steven Carter and Julia Sokol (2000, M. Evans & Company). The authors offer witty (and occasionally wise) commentary and advice, which might inspire you to behave differently.

DEAR AMY: I have been in contact with an old high school friend for nine years. I do not wish to be in contact with her and I told her that via email. She ignored my request and emailed me back against my wishes. She called me at 5:30 a.m., knowing I did not like her calling at that hour. This person is unreliable. She does not do what she says she is going to do. She is irresponsible and, frankly, gets on my nerves. I have done everything to end my contact with her and she ignores my requests to leave me alone. What do I do? I never answer the phone when she calls.

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DEAR FRUSTRATED: Technology has made it very easy for people to find one another. But the same tools your former friend uses to contact you can be customized to avoid or ignore her.

Check your email server's settings and have all emails from this person's address directed to the "spam" or "trash" folder. If you use a smartphone, you can assign this person's number to be "blocked" or "ignored." I suggest you do this without further conversation with her about it.

DEAR AMY: "Guilty Daughter" had a very silly problem. Her mother gave her a heart-shaped paperweight for her first anniversary and she didn't like it. Did it occur to her that perhaps her mother was so adamant about this gift because paper is the traditional gift for a first anniversary?


DEAR TRADITIONALIST: It didn't occur to me either. But I think you're right about the mother's motivation.