I moved to Chicago four months ago. Happened to fall for my headhunter. We dated for a while. It seemed really promising. I spent a week with him, we talked every night and then I packed my bag and moved from East to Midwest. I was moving before I met him, but meeting him made it even more magical.

Anyway, I got here and an old friend walked back into his life. He dropped me and chose her. I felt betrayed and ruined. My self-esteem was crushed. For a while I felt that every guy would meet another woman after we began dating and choose her. I got him totally out of my head, began dating and then, after three months, he popped back into my life uninvited. He says he wants to be friends (he is still dating the other girl). A part of me wants to be friends. But at the same time, all these feelings are popping up again. What do I do now?

--Lost in Chicago

Write bad fiction? You're off to a roaring start.

"Betrayed and ruined" is exchanging vows with someone and spending 10 years of your life with him and finding out he's been shtupping your sister for nine of them. But even then, I'd call "ruined" a tad overwrought. Grieve, get up, go on.

By comparison, here's what you had: A guy you knew . . . we'll be generous and call it a month--30, count 'em, three-oh days. You had potential. And the girl he chose? She had history with him, and memories, and, apparently, love: You know, things that are supposed to come before you spend a week with someone.

If you were in his shoes, you'd have made the same choice (amid the mad sawing of violins, no doubt).

You've made a major life move. Take some pride in that, and take your buckets of self-pity to the curb. Better yet, do something with them. Find a hobby, a passion, a point--something to give your life some stability. Why not funnel all that emotional runoff into a good, constructive volunteer gig? Who knows, if you get distracted enough by others, you might stumble on some perspective.

Dear Carolyn:

Okay, my new boyfriend is having some difficulty telling his ex-girlfiend, and really all of his friends, that we are together. A lot of them are my friends, too, or I want them to be, and this is making it very awkward. He still has feelings for her, not serious ones, and I accept that, but I really want him to tell her and other people! What to do so that I'm not nagging, but he actually tells her?


Ex-girlfiend? Excellent typo.

From what I've seen, people who find true love want to shout it from the treetops. It kind of loses its poetry, though, if the climactic treetop scene is one of the terms agreed upon during the relationship negotiations you browbeat him into entering.

You're not wrong to want a public declaration of affection--it's that you can't just up and ask for one. And why would you when you already know the answer? You say yourself he has lingering feelings for someone else; with these, I'm sure, come certain doubts about you. Fair enough--it's still "new." At least you're both realistic about that.

But just as he's entitled to some time to figure things out, you're entitled to a little respect. Say you'll drop the issue of his telling this person or that--if he'll drop any efforts to conceal the truth. No hiding you, no lying about you--or else, no you.


Can you give me an idea of what current rules of thumb are for values of wedding gifts for twentysomethings? Should you take into consideration whether you attended, whether you traveled to be at the wedding, etc.?


The rule is, if the bride and groom look at what you bought and say, "How cheap," then you spent too much on the twits.

Think of something they'd like, see if you can afford it and work your way down from there. A reasonably well-off grown-up might shoot for the $75-to-$100 range, but when you're on pace for eight or nine weddings a year, even a reasonably well-off grown-up would rather shoot the gift registry instead.

The perpetual-wedding-guest epiphany: It is the thought that counts.

A good thought to consider is the group gift. One person with 40 bucks buys. . . a fork. ("Dear K., Thank you so much for the beautiful . . . fork.") Five people with 40 bucks can at least buy a place setting.

There's no law that says you Must Buy Gifts, but if you go, you should. When travel expenses alone are staggering, though, the young, the less fortunate and the grad-school-impoverished have license to say upfront that attending will be their gift. If that doesn't fly, frankly, neither should you.

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