DEAR AMY: My ex-boyfriend is getting married. We broke up only five months ago. We had stopped being intimate for a year before we broke up. That was a big problem for me. Plus, he smoked and drank and could not hold a job. He also has a terrible temper. I am 62, and was married once before. He is 54, and has been married twice before. After we had been together for two years, he asked me to marry him, and I said no. After I left him, I felt really good about my decision to end the relationship. Why do I feel so sad and upset now? Why should I care that he's getting married? Why does it hurt, even though I left him? Apparently, he didn't love me as much as I thought he did. What's wrong with me? I cried myself to sleep the other night. Can you give me some answers?

Confused and Hurt

DEAR CONFUSED: You are upset; this might be why your emotional abacus seems to be on the fritz.

So, let's recalibrate. This man asked you to marry him. Very wisely, you said no.

In every possible universe — both known and yet to be discovered — you win!

Getting married is not a signifier of success. For some people, getting married is what you do because you can't hold a job, can't quit smoking and drinking, can't control your temper and are clinging to the bottom rung of the "what-the-hell-am-I-doing?" ladder. Getting married is a distraction. And that distraction lasts between two weeks and two years. Then, it's on to the next thing.

I give you permission to cry about this, to feel confused, and to send yourself on a brief "what-if" flight of fancy. But please, do not wonder about whether this guy loved you enough. Concentrate instead on loving yourself more.

DEAR AMY: I always enjoy and appreciate your advocacy for animals, namely rescue dogs. I want to give a sort of "PSA" to the dog-owning community at large. Many well-meaning owners who have had their dogs since puppyhood assume that all dogs are friendly and want to play with one another. In a perfect world this would be the case and I would love it, but unfortunately many dogs (and other animals) have gone through trauma that causes them to act out. My own dog, when approached by another dog, is likely to try to attack, no matter the circumstances. I am a responsible dog owner and we are in professional training to work on these issues. We also avoid situations like this whenever possible. But when a naive dog owner insists on approaching us with their dog, even as I yell, "No, no, no, he's not friendly!" it really puts me in a tough spot! I have no trouble coming off as rude by turning around and walking/running the other way, but we have actually been cornered a couple of times, even as I warned them to stay away. Dog parents, your heart is in the right place, but please remember that some dogs have troubled pasts and are not safe when they are frightened.

Mutt Mama

DEAR MAMA: Thank you to all of the loving humans who offer rescue animals their forever-homes.

I hear you, regarding the challenges of acclimating a traumatized dog when other humans disregard your warnings.

Furthermore, loving dog owners, please don't approach my young (possibly nervous or frightened) children with your large dog with the greeting: "It's OK. Buster LOVES kids."

Many parents thoughtfully teach their children never to approach a dog without first asking its human if it's OK. If only all of the canines' humans offered the same careful approach of asking before introducing.

And please don't bring your dog into my house without advance notice. My elderly cat (age 20) is one dog-encounter away from using up his ninth life.

DEAR AMY: "Young Widow in NY" was upset at being saddled with a huge bill for her husband's funeral, all because of funeral charges racked up by the late-husband's mother. Overall I didn't like your advice, but I especially didn't like you suggesting that this woman should "consider bankruptcy." That is completely irresponsible.


DEAR UPSET: This young widow described "swimming in medical bills," in addition to the exorbitant cost of this funeral.

Yes, I did suggest bankruptcy "as a last resort." She seemed to be completely overwhelmed by the debts brought on by her husband's illness and death. Bankruptcy could help her get a fresh start.

ONE-DAY SALE26¢ for 5 6 months