DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I’m into my third marriage now, and really want it to work. I used to be a woman who got bored and… well, I cheated. I felt terrible every time, and it would end the relationship. In fact, it happened with both marriages, and even a couple of times before I was married.
How can I stop this? We’re still in the honeymoon stage, but things are cooling a little. It might sound stupid, but I don’t know how I always end up in the same spot.
— Guilty, Just Not at this Minute, south Winnipeg
Dear Guilty: Early in life, you stumbled on a handy-dandy breakup tool that worked 100 per cent of the time, so you kept using it. Instead of having the uncomfortable breakup conversations other people have, you cheated and your partners left in anger and pain, and didn’t call back.
If you’d had talks — even arguments — with any of these old partners, instead of sneaking off and cheating, it would have been upsetting, but perhaps problems could have been solved. Even if you did split up, you could walk away feeling like a decent person, instead of an underhanded cheater.
Beware of your outdated technique. Instead, start talking out your worries about this new marriage cooling with your husband, and figure out together what could be done to heat it up. You might be surprised!
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My brother has struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. While he’s been clean now for a number of years, he still applies that same addictive energy to new things. He’s deep into video games now — playing every evening and into the wee hours — and starting to ignore his family and other responsibilities pretty badly.
I tried to talk to him about it recently. He just got mad, like he did when he was addicted to more dangerous stuff. I think he needs to address whatever it is that drives him to addictions in the first place! But, he says he’s "clean" now. What can I do?
— Brother Down Again, North End
Dear Again: Video games definitely have addictive aspects, as players seek to reach higher and higher levels, and reap the rewards and congratulations that go with them. Plus you "meet" a lot of new friends playing video games. You may not see them — so you’re not judged visually — but you do hear them speaking.
For your brother, gaming may feel like a way to stay clean from drugs and alcohol. You’ve said your piece to him already, and he was angry, but don’t give up. Who else is going to care enough to warn him he’s headed for trouble again? Make him aware of gamequitters.com. It’s a resource created by Canadian-born Cam Adair who was addicted to gaming for 10 years, and used to play 16-20 hours a day. Good luck with helping your bro!
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I’m gay and married to someone I thought was the love of my life. But you know how life is; sometimes things don’t work out, and he definitely didn’t.
This is the hard part. My parents were, let’s say "less than excited" about my coming out and marrying a man. Now that we’ve decided to get divorced, I hate the idea of having to go tell my parents it didn’t work out, just as they said it wouldn’t (knowing literally nothing personal about us, mind you).
I feel like a crappy conversation is around the corner and I’m really not excited about having it. I love my parents, but what can I do to get past their smug little grins I can almost see already?
— Divorcing Son, Winnipeg
Dear Divorcing Son: Take the initiative and drop in, bringing the donuts, for a short announcement to the parents in the mid-afternoon. Have somewhere you need to go afterwards, saying you "can’t stay long, but just thought they should know."
You’ll feel better going into this talk if you prepare for it. If the parents smirk over what they considered to be an inevitable breakup, make the point that divorce is not about sexual preference, but about unsolvable problems.
Hold your head up, do not get into the details and do not fold. Just politely stand up, let them know you care about them, and then say something pleasant like, "See you soon," and be off.
Please send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or Miss Lonelyhearts c/o the Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6.
Each year, the Free Press publishes more than 1,000 letters to Miss Lonelyhearts and her responses to the life and relationship questions that come her way.