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Dear Abby: 2-time loser scared he’ll cheat again

Dear Abby: I have been married twice. My first marriage lasted 20 years, the second one about four years.

In my first marriage, I started cheating seven months after our wedding. My wife knew about some of the affairs and stuck with me, anyway. I finally felt so guilty for hurting her emotionally, I called it quits and married the last woman I cheated on her with.

My second marriage was in many ways better. I was able to remain faithful for more than three years before cheating again. I feel terrible that I have hurt another woman I loved, but I’ve now fallen in love with the woman with whom I’ve been cheating.

It’s as if I’m in a perpetual cycle and can’t stop. I want this relationship to be my last, but I’m scared I’ll end up cheating on her, too. How do I change this pattern of behavior?

– Cheater in Michigan

Dear Cheater: I respect you for recognizing you have established a pattern and admitting it. The most effective way to break a “perpetual cycle” would be to understand exactly what has driven it. I don’t think this is something you can or should do on your own. That’s why I recommend that you schedule some sessions with a licensed mental health professional before making another trip to the altar.

Can’t deliver Christmas gifts

Dear Abby: Is there a rule of etiquette regarding Christmas presents at this point in the year? I have boxes full of gifts for some friends and their children. These friends live no more than 30 minutes away, but they have canceled every plan we have made since mid-November. They know I have the gifts, and I’ve asked them to stop and get them out of my home, even if they don’t have time to come in and visit.

When I try to make plans to bring them their gifts, they say they have errands to run and they’ll let me know when they’re home. Then they wait until the next day to tell me they forgot, or they were out longer than expected.

We have no idea what’s going on in each other’s lives past the point of social media, which has shown me that they’re minutes from my house at least once or twice a week. I understand life is busy, but it feels as if they’re purposely avoiding me at this point.

Most of the gifts are personalized and can’t be returned or repurposed. But for those that aren’t, at what point is it OK to give up trying to deliver them and return them to the seller?

Tired of Waiting

Dear Tired: Sometimes no message sends a strong one. By now, it should be clear that those folks are not interested in receiving anything from you, and are probably not eager to continue any sort of personal relationship. If you need my permission or encouragement to return the items – if indeed any of them is still returnable – I’m giving it to you now.