Carolyn Hax is away. The following first appeared on Nov. 24, 2004.
DEAR CAROLYN: When I was 24, I was married. It was a mistake of great proportions, for both of us, and it ended in divorce five months later.
Fast-forward six years. We run into each other, have dinner, and a year later we’re living together and existing in a relationship so good I didn’t think it was possible.
The problem is, a number of my friends are still having some difficulty with the idea that we’re back together. I still get the occasional snide remark, snicker or smirk when I mention him.
DEAR LUCKY: You have a great story on your hands. Enjoy it. Beat everyone to the smirk. Laugh at yourself.
You want to be taken seriously; I get it. But not only is laughing always better than overreacting, you’ll also save everyone the trouble of having to laugh at you. If you get over it, they get over it. Call it a mistake of great panache.
When even that gets old: “We’re over it. I can’t wait till everyone else is, too.”
DEAR CAROLYN: I love my girlfriend, who is the most amazing person I’ve ever met. I just can’t seem to avoid being selfish and doing things that end up hurting her.
A few months ago, she found out I had cheated on her, and she left. In that time, I realized what I had lost and that she is the one I want to spend the rest of my life with.
She has forgiven me and we are back together, but I still feel guilty and I want to do something to show her what she means to me (and maybe what she always meant to me, that I was afraid to admit?). Any suggestions?
Although it’s a few hundred miles from Hollywood, the Bay Area has its own share of acting talent. Here are some famed actors who have hit it big on the silver screen and television. (Patrick Tehan/Staff)
President Barack Obama awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Academy Award winner, filmmaker and social justice advocate Tom Hanks during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House November 22, 2016 in Washington, DC. Hanks was born in Concord and studied theater at Chabot College. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Actor Mahershala Ali is photographed on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. His new movie “Kicks” was filmed in Oakland. Ali was born in Oakland and raised in Hayward. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)
James Franco speaks onstage during IFP’s 27th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards on November 27, 2017 in New York City. He was born and raised in Palo Alto. (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for IFP)
Actor Aisha Tyler on stage at the Step Up Women’s Network’s 4th Annual Inspirational Awards held at the Beverly Wilshire Regency Hotel on April 20 2007 Beverly Hills, California. Tyler was born in San Francisco and went to McAteer High School along with Sam Rockwell. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Comedian Robin Williams accepts an award onstage at The Comedy Awards 2012 at Hammerstein Ballroom on April 28, 2012 in New York City. Williams lived in Marin County and spent much of his comedy career in the Bay Area. (Theo Wargo/Getty Images)
Bruce Lee stars in “Enter the Dragon.” Lee was born in San Francisco and later lived there for several months before moving to Seattle. (Digital Press)
Actor Benjamin Bratt stands with Giants president and CEO Larry Baer as singer Tony Bennett sings “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch as the San Francisco Giants play the Washington Nationals during Game 3 of baseball’s NL Division Series at AT&T Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Monday, Oct. 6, 2014. Bratt went to Lowell High School in San Francisco. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)
Comedian Margaret Cho speaks at a screening of Margaret Cho’s “The Cho Show,” at Le Royale on August 13, 2008, in New York City. Cho was born in San Francisco and went to San Francisco State. (Amy Sussman/Getty Images)
Zendaya performs at the Triple Ho Show at SAP Center, in San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013. She was born in Oakland and attended Oakland School for the Arts. (Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group)
Actor and activist Danny Glover, left, poses for a cameraphone picture with Ervin Cooley of Oakland, Calif., at a graduation ceremony for the Allen Temple and Economic Development Corporation’s “green built” apprenticeship program, where Glover was the featured speaker, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009 in Oakland. Glover was born in San Francisco and went to San Francisco State. (D. Ross Cameron/Staff)
Actor Sam Rockwell, winner of Best Supporting Male for ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’, poses in the press room during the 2018 Film Independent Spirit Awards on March 3, 2018, in Santa Monica. Rockwell went to high school with Aisha Tyler in San Francisco. (Phillip Faraone/Getty Images)
W. Kamau Bell, of Berkeley, poses for a photograph along University Avenue in Berkeley, Calif., on Friday, March 18, 2016. Bell, an East Bay comedian known for his social commentary, has a new TV show premiering soon on CNN. He lives in Berkeley. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)
Actor Rob Schneider yells “Play Ball” before the San Francisco Giants game against the St. Louis Cardinals for Game 3 of the National League baseball championship series in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014. He was born in San Francisco and went to San Francisco State University. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)
Clint Eastwood arrives at the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures’ “The Mule” at the Village Theatre on Dec. 10, 2018, in Los Angeles. Eastwood was born in San Francisco and was once mayor of Carmel by-the-sea. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
DEAR LOWSVILLE: Yes: Don’t cheat on her.
That might be the least facetious facetious-sounding answer I’ve ever given.
I could trot out all the usual flowers and gifts and apologies and promises, but she has forgiven you. That is profound. The most profound gift you can give her in return is to be worthy of that forgiveness — today, tomorrow, and for as long as you share life with her.
Make that second-most profound. Most profound is to respect the intelligence of this “most amazing person you’ve ever met” enough not to suck up to her after you’ve just bedded some other girl.
Conveniently, behaving with integrity is also the way to beat guilt. You don’t buy it down, you live it down.
This doesn’t preclude gifts and apologies. They do have their place, especially if it isn’t her birthday and you haven’t just betrayed her horribly and some feeling goes into the gifts. But it does preclude moronic pronouncements like, “I just can’t seem to avoid being selfish.” You can. So, do.
And if you really really can’t, then break up with your girlfriend and give monogamy a pass till you can.
Email Carolyn at [email protected], follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.
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