DEAR ABBY: I'm a divorced man dating a divorcee, "Sylvie," who is eight years younger. I recently learned she had an affair before we met, and it is affecting the way I see her.
The man she had the affair with is still married. I had an affair while I was married, and although I understand how affairs can happen, I don't condone them. It took me several years to forgive myself for the hurt my actions caused.
Sylvie tells me things are over with this man, yet she continues to do business with him. In my mind she ought to find alternative vendors to deal with. We have spoken about it, and she insists no one else in our area carries or represents the product line he offers.
I feel if she truly is over him, then all communication, both personal and professional, should cease. It's not that I don't trust Sylvie, but I believe things might reignite between them in a weak moment. Am I being ridiculous? -- DAZED IN WISCONSIN
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DEAR DAZED: You're not being ridiculous, but the truth is you don't completely trust Sylvie when she says the affair is history. For her to sacrifice a necessary business contact because you are insecure would be a mistake. There would be financial consequences, and she has no guarantee that her relationship with you will progress beyond dating.
DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend of three years slapped me across the face a few nights ago. He has never done that before, and he promised he'd never do it again. After he hit me he immediately apologized, but said I was partly at fault because I had taunted and belittled him. I love him very much and know he would never want to hurt me.
We're both in our 20s and have expressed our devout love for each other. My boyfriend is the sweetest guy and truly makes me a happier person, but I don't know if I can fully trust and be in love with him after he hit me. I feel partly responsible for what happened that night, but I know I didn't deserve to be hit.
Is my boyfriend an abuser? He has been nothing but caring and supportive and shows no other signs of being abusive. What should I do? -- TAKEN ABACK OUT WEST
DEAR TAKEN ABACK: Let me point out that abusers do not start out relationships by being that way. But once slapping starts, it often escalates to pushing, hitting and more serious violence. One of the hallmarks of an abuser is blaming the victim by saying he/she deserved it, and it is a big, red warning sign.
Because you have said that your boyfriend has never shown any other signs of being abusive in your three-year relationship, consider this incident an unfortunate one-time occurrence. But keep your eyes wide open in case it wasn't.
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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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