DEAR CAROLYN: What is it about single women and "dating" married men? I just broke up with my girlfriend of two years because I could not live up to her past married "boyfriend." I was not as funny, charming or fun as he was. Funny thing, they never did anything except have secret meetings at her apartment when he was available. I actually took her places and introduced her to my family (my mother loved her). What was the attraction?
DEAR READER: What is it about angry men and blaming women for one woman's behavior?
I said that for effect but, seriously. Stop.
It does sound as if your ex made several bad choices: being a married person's side piece; dating you while still hung up on someone else; failing to connect the dots between secret trysts and unrealistic romantic expectations ... so, yeah, you put two years on a bad bet. That alone is a painful thing to behold as you reflect on recent events, and you'll need some time to recover.
Now please let that be enough: It didn't work, period. Not because she dated a married guy but because you and she didn't fit.
And it hurts, period. Don't use your spillover pain as license to throw judgments and stereotypes around or point fingers or try to draw any grander conclusions.
Even with the justified anger, go easy -- we're all flawed. She is, obviously; her lover was presumably more so. Though arguably on the victim end of this transaction, you have your moments, too. You chose her, after all, and missed a bunch of signs, and are now pointing those aforesaid fingers.
So, focus. You gave two years to someone who wasn't as invested in you as you were in her. That's the business end of this breakup, and that's what you learn from now: When was the lopsided-investment problem apparent? What did you miss or choose to ignore?
That's also the wisdom you carry with you now as you start meeting new people again: knowing the signs so you'll be wiser sooner if you're ever on this path again.
DEAR CAROLYN: Is it acceptable to go to a large, formal, annual event when you strongly dislike the host? Host is a gossip and toxic person, and most of the guests have the same dislike. Is it disingenuous to attend or no? It feels weird.
-- Party Pooper
DEAR READER: It should feel weird to accept the hospitality of someone you loathe because, yes, it is disingenuous.
Unless you have a family connection or a professional obligation, that is. In those cases your attendance would reasonably be part of a commitment to something bigger than yourself and your own amusement.
But if this is strictly social, then it's hard to see how you all aren't openly using this person -- so send regrets. If you're ostracized for it, your integrity can keep you warm.
DEAR CAROLYN: When your ex watches everything you do on Instagram and Facebook, and texts you randomly but never calls or visits -- what does that mean?
DEAR READER: I have no idea. But I do know you're overdue to use your privacy settings to box him out -- either that or take yourself off display entirely. You can contemplate meanings in all your new-found free time.
Chat online with Carolyn at 11 a.m. each Friday at washingtonpost.com. Write to Tell Me About It in care of The Washington Post, Style Plus, 1150 15th St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20071; or email
Weekend on 01/10/2019
Print Headline: One woman's mistakes shouldn't tarnish all women