31ask-amy mga

Even cheaters have to move beyond guilt

DEAR AMY: I did a horrendous thing. I cheated on my long-distance boyfriend. It was only one incident that I did not intend to repeat and could have gotten away with had I chosen not to tell him the truth.

I was hoping that I might have been, if not forgiven, at least given a second chance. I was hoping that we could start over. However, he chose to end the relationship, and I do not blame him for this, even though it has broken my heart.

The thing that hurts the most, though, is not that the relationship ended but that I lost the esteem of a good person who loved me and whose opinion I value. I take full responsibility for what happened. Given that I feel raw and dirty and that I cannot imagine a time in my life when I would be able to forgive myself, do I deserve to feel differently?

I want comfort, but when I get it from family and friends, I feel as if I don’t deserve it.


My natural inclination is to try to understand what led to me to do what I did, but I feel as if I haven’t exited the punishment period, during which I only deserve to feel the full weight of what I did.

Do cheaters deserve to heal? — Missing Him

DEAR MISSING: Do cheaters deserve to heal? Of course. If cheaters didn’t deserve healing and forgiveness, then many fractured relationships — and the people in them — would never mend.

Guilt has its purposes. Guilt can be a gift, causing us to reflect on our actions. But even guilt must have its limits.

You did a bad thing. You are paying the price for your actions. But at some point your self-punishment starts to seem self-indulgent. You’re no good to the world as long as you keep yourself tethered to your guilt.

Write a letter to your ex. Apologize for what you’ve done and express your hope that he will choose to forgive you. And then turn the page and start the process of moving on.

DEAR AMY: What do you think about a bride-to-be who has a huge bridal shower at which she receives many expensive gifts, calls off the wedding without notifying the gift-givers and has absolutely no intention of returning the shower gifts?

I attended such a bridal shower, putting out close to $80 for a gift. There had to be more than 100 people at the shower, and the gifts were huge. (Gone are the days when showers were intimate affairs with gifts being small household incidentals. Now shower gifts are really wedding gifts, with cash given at the wedding.)


Although a thank-you note was sent for my gift, as the anticipated wedding date loomed, I received a note from the groom’s mother stating the wedding was canceled!

It has been more than three months. I recently learned that the woman and her parents have no intention of returning the shower gifts, claiming limited storage space resulted in discarding all the boxes the gifts came in. However, many people gave checks and store gift cards — these were not returned either. I realize it can be a major pain, but not to return the gifts seems criminal.

Do you think my writing a note to the woman’s parents expressing this sentiment (tactfully) would be appropriate? What do you think I should do? — Feeling Like a Chump

DEAR CHUMP: You could send the bride’s mother a note saying, "I was so sorry to hear that Wendy and Steven have canceled their wedding. It occurs to me that Wendy will want to return her shower gifts but might have forgotten what she received from me. I gave her a deluxe blender-combo-cappuccino ice cream maker. I still have the receipt and can tell you the amount, in case she would rather send a check."

DEAR AMY: I had to laugh when I read your response to the couple wondering how to stop another couple from inviting themselves on their vacations. You wrote, "If you can’t fudge, sneak off or tell them you’re going to Bismarck, N.D., and instead go to Hawaii."

Is North Dakota the antithesis of Hawaii?

I’ve lived my entire life in North Dakota. Yes, the weather can be brutally cold, but we also have incredibly warm and friendly people, clean air, a safe environment to raise our children, students that test above the national average (I’m a teacher) and many activities in every season. This state is a wonderful choice to vacation or make your home, and I’d be happy to show you the great things we have to offer. — Beverly in Grafton, N.D.

DEAR BEVERLY: You demonstrate the good humor for which the Great Cold North is justly famous. I would gladly visit North Dakota. I’ve just been waiting for the right invitation.


Send questions via e-mail to or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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