DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: My girlfriend got a tattoo when she was away in Europe with some Gaelic letters and symbols she would not tell me about. I got suspicious and took her travelling buddy out for a few drinks... well, quite a few shots. She finally spilled the truth about what happened in Europe, where they both met some "travel buddies" for "protection." She said she never fell for any of her sleeping bag buddies, but apparently my girlfriend did. She fell real hard for an Irish guy and they spent a lot of time together and declared themselves "soul mates," even though they thought they could never live together in the same country. On the last day together, they went out and got twin tattoos, for God's sake. I can't tell you how sick that made me, although it cleared up the mystery. I expected there'd be a little fooling around on a trip like that, so I did a little fooling around back here myself. Big deal. I could forgive that. But I never expected something like this. I called her on it, and we broke up and it was ugly. Now, tonight at the bar, I hear she's going back to Europe to be with this guy and it feels like my heart is being wrenched out of my body. If I had kept my big mouth shut, do you think this would never have happened? I wanted to marry her, and now everything is in pieces -- Her Fool, Winnipeg
Dear Fool: It's highly unlikely you had any control over the feelings she had for the Irish guy and the confrontation with you was the first excuse she got to go flying back to him. It was only a matter of time. The "secret" tattoos set things up so you two would break up. Don't blame yourself. Her heart moved on when she was in Europe, and she may only have come home because she had a return ticket and had run out of money. Say goodbye to this painful mess, and move on. She certainly has.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: This is for Second Rate Wife, about the cheating. Here is my own story: In my marriage, I found this sexy picture of a woman in my husband's wallet. This, after he was forever late getting home and always after he had these expensive lunches in one or two cities close together on his sales route. I started checking his wallet for American Express receipts. He only had two accounts to call on in that area as a salesman for a large company. But he supposedly had trade shows, meetings, training schools and problems to solve, as excuses for not coming home at a normal time. Upon checking, it was all lies. It came to a head when he was at home recuperating from an operation and I steamed open a letter from a florist for flowers that I never received. There it was -- her name, address and phone number. I finally confronted him with the picture I had found earlier in his wallet. Our marriage was never the same. He gave her up but I never fully trusted him after that. When you said to Second Rate Wife that "you may be able to work this out," I say, what are the chances for a really happy marriage after this? He died and I have now been a widow for 23 years. My experience with men has been that they are louses with huge egos and the biggest liars going. I also want to say women who carry on with married men are no better than them. I just had to get that off my chest. -- Senior Gal, Winnipeg
Dear Senior: Your experience was sad and unfortunate but you unfairly generalized your experience to the whole male sex. You also wasted 23 long years after this husband died by remaining bitter and not finding anyone else to love. Look, there are lots of great guys and great women along with the bad ones. What if you had left this husband after he cheated and found a great new trustworthy guy? Granted, it was probably much harder to leave a man in your day, but most women who wanted freedom to love again, put together two jobs if necessary to regain their independence and freedom. Even if you had dated after your husband had died, you might have found a second love, but you stayed bitter. What chance for happiness is there in that?
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