Dear Margo: Ditched or Saved?

How do I get over a man who just up-and-left? Margo Howard’s advice

Ditched or Saved?

Dear Margo: I’m 29, and recently, my fiance of eight years walked out the door and never returned. I thought we had a great relationship and never saw this coming. It was a shock to me, my friends, my family and his. While we were bickering before he left (everyday life stuff), I had no idea we were at a serious crossroads. He recently started a new job, so I thought his general unhappiness was related to stress he was encountering at work. (He refused to open up, so I tried to give him space). I even packed his bags as he went home to “relax.”

After two weeks of unanswered emails and hanging up on phone calls, he broke up via an answering machine message. I was left canceling a wedding, moving and sorting out our house (we just bought a house and were moving in two weeks’ time), canceling accounts, changing documents, etc., all while he went on a trip with his family.

When he returned to this small community after living with his parents for two months (he is 30), I encountered him at our small church. We spoke, and there was absolutely no remorse on his part for his actions. In fact, he told me he feared I would have manipulated him into staying. (What would I have done, tied him to a chair?)

I am hoping you can provide some advice about how to get over this whole fiasco. I am left feeling incredibly stupid that I didn’t see this side of his personality, frustrated that he left without telling me what the heck happened, upset that I’m feeling so depressed, and missing him while he continues to act like this was just a walk in the park. I am speaking with my church counselor, but I’m exhausted from crying myself to sleep. — Wool Pulled Over My Eyes

Dear Wool: What a skunk. Rather than crying your eyes out, I would hope you’d start reviewing the personality traits you have avoided, along with a probable divorce. This guy is cavalier, immature, thoughtless and self-centered. And you may need a different therapist to help you get over Mr. Mistake. He simply isn’t worth the anguish, and he’s proved it. — Margo, providentially

A Story as Old as Men and Women

Dear Margo: I am a former homicide prosecutor in a major city. I prosecuted a man (“Jeff”) for killing his girlfriend/ex-girlfriend (“Mary”) by shooting her four times in the head while she was riding in his SUV with him. At the time of the killing, they were broken up, but they had continued communicating with each other.

Jeff and Mary met on one of the online dating sites. She moved in with him the day after their first meeting. (I am leaving out a lot of details.) While I would caution anyone against moving so quickly whether you meet online or through other means, I do think people need to take extra care in dealing with those they meet online. However you meet, take things slowly, and do due diligence in checking the other person out.

I suspect you have written previously about this, but I thought my perspective as a prosecutor might bolster your argument. I cannot figure out why people do not make a more serious effort to look out for themselves. — Former ADA

Dear Form: Despite a ton of mail on this subject over the years, your perspective certainly has been more directly influenced than mine. I think the wish to take someone at face value may often be just that: the person has “a nice face.” There are, of course, myriad reasons for why women (and men) are taken for a ride — one being that they want to be. The wish for a partner or a romance is often stronger than good sense, causing people to overlook red flags. Hope, apparently, is stronger than evidence. And the beat goes on. — Margo, regretfully

* * *

Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


Every Thursday and Friday, you can find “Dear Margo” and her latest words of wisdom on wowOwow

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51 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Violet says:

    If they were engaged for 8 years and not married yet, that should have already been a huge red flag. Also, let’s see: they were bickering. He was unhappy and uncommunicative and she is surprised? I say she should celebrate having dodged a bullet, put Mr. Wrong behind her and have a great life without him.

    • avatar luna midden says:

      As with every ‘story’, there are at least 3 sides to it. In LW-yes, the 8 YEARS should have been a clue. He was moody and uncommunicative-AND SHE LEFT HIM ALONE to sort out things. He was probably having doubts and for all we know, she came across as uncaring. Moving into a home, planning a wedding AND A NEW JOB…. Maybe he was stressed out beyond what he could tolerate-and simply broke down. WE DON’T KNOW. For example, she is painting herself clueless-but, what it he felt pushed, PRESSURED into the house, the new job, the wedding or details of it, and he said ‘I do not think I should spend my life with this woman?’ Yes, he could be just a skank, BUT, unless we know what REALLY HAPPENED, we really can not judge. As for the LW-I really think since she is still ‘crying her eyes out’, she needs therapy X2-to get over this relationship and to find out why it did not work or at least figure out the warning signs of things going wrong. Also, 8 years, and not married-SOMEONE or BOTH WERE HESITANT about the relationship OR just did not see HIMSELF MARRIED.

      • avatar Katharine Gray says:

        He may have had perfectly good reasons  for calling this off as you have pointed out .  No one should marry someone if they have serious doubts simply becaue the train is almost at the station.   He is a skunk not because he ended the relationship but because of HOW he ended it.  After 8 years she deserved more than him ignoring her for 2 weeks and a voicemail breakup and he should have helped clean up the loose ends.  Her heart would still be broken either way but at least she would be able to say he was an honorable guy and this just didn’t work out. 

        • avatar D L says:

          I agree. Yes, the way he did it was not the best by any means. But something seems a bit off. The LW hinted towards communication problems. Is it possible he mentioned some issues or feeling some uncertainity but she wasn’t “listening”? We blame guys for this all the time. Additionally, the fact that he told her he feared being manipulated into staying says something. If he truly felt that way, its best for both of them that the relationship ended.

          • avatar D L says:

            And it’s 100% possible for a man to be manipulated into staying with a woman. Anyone heard of “accidental” pregnancy?

      • avatar BeanCounter says:

        Your “we don’t have enough information to judge this situation” argument is pretty silly.   After 8 years, he broke up with her on a voicemail.   He left her to deal with a new house they had recently purchased, and all their mutual bills.   You’re pretty stupid if you can overlook those items, REGARDLESS of what type of personality she has or how she acted.   I call total BS on your response.

        And yes….some people just change overnight.   There may be warning signs, but we are all taught that relationships take work and perhaps this woman loved him and wanted it to work. 

        She’s trying to get over wasting 8 years of her life.  And if he was such a pu$$y to get “pressured” into a house, wedding, etc, then HE’S the one with the problem, not HER.    I hardly think 8 years together is pressureing ANYTHING.   wow.   clueless post of the day goes to you.

      • avatar stateoflove_N_Trust says:

        Assuming that what you say is correct, how do you explain his lack of communication other than her lying to Margo?

        • avatar wendykh says:

          I can explain this one.

          I have dealt with many friends who strongly feel if you break up with someone it needs to be in person and that simply disappearing, going “no contact” is some horrible heinous crime akin to baby eating. This is not true.

          Maybe it’s the kind of men I date but when I get to the point where I am done, I am done. And I tend to cut all contact. Why? Because if I don’t we get to sit down and have a sobbing heart to heart lasting hours if I am lucky and usually carrying over for several weeks. Long monologues where basically they try to talk you into staying. Now if you’re just done and you still care about the person and feel bad for being done and hate hurting people, this leads to staying in relationships you don’t want. Because they guilt you so bad.

          He was gone for two weeks, not two years. I am quite sure things could have been put off until he returned. He shored up his strength so as to avoid getting sucked back in by Crybaby Ex.

          Been there, done that.

  2. avatar Constance Plank says:


    She should be counting her blessings. He could have married her, fathered several children and walked away in the exact same manner. And, she’s also missing having in-laws, who after knowing her as a future daughter in law for even longer than 8 years, are supportive of this man to the extent of going on a trip with him, while she’s left with the detritus of the relationship.

    I have a great deal of empathy for this person, having not dodged that bullet myself. I would never unwish my two daughters, who are the joys of my life, but honestly, it would have been less painful if my ex had left me in the lurch 23 years ago, rather than 5 years ago!


    Common sense is not that common, alas.

    Constance in the Sierra Foothills of CA

    • avatar Cindy Marek says:

      Common sense is not that common, alas.”

      I was going to quote Voltaire too. 😉 Then saw your reply. Right on!

  3. avatar Rebecca Sava says:

    LW#2 – I met my husband through an online dating site; we’ve been together for 4 years, married 2, and we are completely perfect for each other.

    Yes, you do need to be cautious when dealing with people, but saying that it’s only ONLINE people who are potential psychotics is a little extreme, as I have a coworker who was the nicest guy in the world that decided to plant his wife’s face into the stairwell.

    • avatar stateoflove_N_Trust says:

      I am not sure how it is much different from people who move in right after meeting someone at a bar.  You don’t know that person either. 

  4. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    LW#1:  He IS a skunk.  The way he ended things was despicable.  But…given that he had decided to leave…no matter how he ended it you would still have a broken heart (although perhaps some assistance in dealing with the house purchase/accounts/wedding cancellation).  Don’t look back and wonder what you did or did not do that caused him to end the relationship or if you could have somehow saved it if only you had known what was going on in his head.   My guess is there is another woman lurking in the backround because in my experience immature men have to have a woman massaging their ego at all times but maybe his mama is doing that for him.   Was it Ann Landers who said *time wounds all heels?* Somebody did.   It will take you awhile to get your bearings but you will.   In the meantime, hold your head up.  You dodged a bullet and someday you will be thankful for it even if right now all seems pretty dismal.  And…another old saying *Living well is the best revenge*.  


    • avatar Diana Danh says:

      I was going to say, I feel like there is someone who wants me to be the “other woman”. I’m just saying that this guy sounds a lot like my ex and now that I’m back in the same state as him, he’s dumped his girlfriend and trying to send me “im single” messages. Too bad though cause I met a wonderful man on MySpace and we are very happy together and the ex, well he was always a bit too “mercurial” for me. I would be willing to bet money that this LW’s ex is a Saggitarius too. LOL

  5. avatar Artemesia says:

    I once dated a guy I had ‘known’ in college classes for a couple of years. It turned out he was married, had another woman pregnant, and a long string of character flaws. I luckily found out rather quickly and was never really that interested in him so it did me no harm — but meeting someone traditionally and ‘knowing’ them as an acquaintance for a long time doesn’t guarantee they are not an axe murderer either. Due diligence in any relationship is a good idea — and paying attention to red flags.

    LW1 is very lucky to have discovered what a louse she was about to marry at only age 29 and before tying herself to this guy. She should reframe this — angry rather than ‘heartbroken’ — and relieved to be rid of him. And she probably needs a therapist who is not with her church and peddling the mantra that all relationship problems stem from a woman not being womanly and submissive enough. (okay maybe this one doesn’t — but lots of church councilors are particularly dysfunctional for women in her situation.)

  6. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #1: How terrible. What a way for that {bleep}hole to get “cold feet.” Suggestions for working to get over this immediately come to mind, but they’re all illegal. >:-( I can’t comprehend … and after 8 years, and formal engagement. I’d seek out counselling/therapy; seriously. This has got to be an emotional wound the depth of which I can’t fathom. And I would *never* speak to that man again. I would behave as if he no longer exists, period.

  7. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #2: “She moved in with him the day after their first meeting.” {shakes head} And what a tragic end. 

    People “shacking up together” so quickly (though most people tend to “wait” a month) is not good. That should be obvious. What’s the hurry? You see/hear of people jumping to silly conclusions and immediately moving in together, without even 6 months of dating. Then there’s the (usually) inevitable breakup, fight, possessions being busted or throw out…

  8. avatar Barbara says:

    LW#1: It hurts but the way to get through this is by following the oft repeated advice. Get out of the house. Find interests that get you involved. Get to know other people. Stay busy. Help those less fortunate. Learn a new skill. Exercise. All of these will occupy your mind, exhaust your body and get you onto an even keel. Time will mellow out that sharp pain. In the mean time, you will find ways to smile again, feel good about yourself, and prove to everyone including yourself that you are a vital and important person.

  9. avatar butterfly55 says:

    Between the 2 letters it goes to show that it doesn’t matter if you know them for one date or nine years, you can never be sure what is going to happen.  If we knew the future we would all make wiser choices but most likely be very bored.

  10. avatar Pdr de says:

    I found a wonderful quotation several months ago and wrote it down inside the cover of my address book so I’d always have it. Wish I’d read it a long time ago before dashing my heart to pieces loving the wrong men.

    “Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.”
    By: Lyle Austin

    This is succinct and exactly right! The man is a jerk and I hope you won’t spend one more minute wondering what “you” did wrong or shedding one more tear over him. You will find someone who loves and cherishes you. Imagine the pain he would have caused you had you married. Then he’d have walked away from you and the children you had together. You have a chance for a new beginning. My 7 year old grandson was talking to his mother on their way home from school.

    He said, “Mom, you know you have to like yourself before you can love yourself!” Out of the mouths of babes. Like yourself and then love yourself. Put your shoulders back and walk tall and proud. He isn’t worth a single moment more of grief and pain.

  11. avatar R Scott says:

    LW1 – This guy was/is a jerk and did not handle this at all well and theres no excuse for this childish behavior.  No where close….however….I would love to hear his side of the story. There has got to be lots details we’re not getting.

    LW2 – Take out the “online” part and insert any situation where two people meet and go from there. Had this lady been introduced to this guy via mutual friends or whatever she would have moved in the next day. That was her issue…not online dating. I think meeting online has become a new Boogy Man. Common sense. Always.

  12. avatar JGM1764 says:

    Gee Margo, way to insult skunks!

  13. avatar Sadie BB says:

    Lw2 – well I guess this is not the time to reveal that I had known my husband less than a day when I went back to his apartment with him…in a foreign city. Two days later I moved out of my hotel to be with him. Three days later I agreed to marry him and would have done it on the spot except for the requirements of 2 embassies and the Italian government. (It was the required certificate of virginity that finally squashed that plan – per his embassy)
    20+ years later we are still happily together.
    I will say that I was almost 30, not some starry-eyed young thing and also had no young children to consider. Also had some experience in reading signals that said “Looking for a hot-looking, bossy, controlling woman to run my life!”
    ha …

  14. avatar Diane Shaw says:

    Ltr. #1 – You dodged a bullet, thank your lucky stars, he’s done you a favor!  But as some have pointed out, there may be more to the story as to what got her fiance to the point of no return, so to speak.  I have known several men over the years, who were engaged, tell me that they didn’t really want to get married but felt trapped.  The plans were being made, monies have been paid, don’t want to hurt her feelings, blah, blah, blah, cry me a river.  Guys, ya ain’t doin’ the lady any favors by being spineless.  The way this guy handled everything is despicable.  If he had wanted out, he should’ve told her years before.  I agree that 8 years is a bit of a red flag.  I would suggest that next time, be a little more cautious and make sure you’re with someone who truly wants the same things as you.  

  15. avatar Sadie BB says:

    Lw1- I realise I am reading between the lines here, but as a BCW myself(see previous post)I am seeing all the signs. Just reverse the sexes and you’ll see what I mean.
    Panicked woman flees serious commitment at the last minute, hides with family for weeks, refuses to meet with or discuss with fiancé, fears ‘manipulation’. Hmmm…
    Understand I am not judging or blaming you. But I will give you the advice I took myself…if you insist on searching only in your own tiny group ( which a small town church would be) the numbers are against you. And anyone you do turn up will look better than they really are since they have no competition.
    I do recommend therapy – and not from a church counselor. I have long felt that the key to a happy life is being honest with yourself about who you are and what you want.

    • avatar mayma says:

      I do recommend therapy – and not from a church counselor.

      Amen to that.  Go far, far outside your circle to get a truly objective view.  I don’t agree at all with the comments that eight years have been “wasted.”  (And c’mon with the comments saying that eight years is a flag; they were young, and every relationship is different.)  Also, don’t agree with the “you did nothing wrong” comment.  I’m not saying she did do something wrong, just that it would be healthy to take a look at what she can do differently in the future, at least.

      For example, why not recoup any financial losses (related to the cancellation and house issues) from him?  Who knows whether he would pay it, but it might accomplish a few things, namely:
      * Not feeling so victimized
      * Taking care of oneself
      * Exerting balance in the dynamic
      * Putting responsibility where it belongs
      * Moving on with reality (i.e., this did happen, and all actions have consequences)

      These are all good things to carry into the next relationship.  Best to do it just as an exercise in empowerment (I can’t believe I’m using that word), rather than expecting any actual money from it.  Maybe that would be the appropriate next move at this stage.  Get a lawyer or family member to help if you can’t handle the emotions of confronting him about it.  Maybe he’s so much of a deadbeat that it wouldn’t be worth it, just cause more anguish, but if a lawyer can buffer all that, it might be a good exercise. 

      • avatar Katharine Gray says:

        Mayma, I agree that if she was left holding the financial bag due to his calling off the relationship, she needs to see a lawyer to determine whether she has any legal  recourse against him.  If they co-signed on contracts that she was obligated to pay, she very well may have recourse to recover his portion of the costs.    

        I have hesitated to comment on the comments that she cannot get good counseling from a church counselor.  Everyone is assuming her counselor is going to tell her to be submissive, its her fault, etc.  We do not even know what type of church she goes to although because she calls it a church and not a synagogue or mosque, I guess its safe to say it is probably Christian.  She is not complaining about the type of counseling she is getting or saying that the counselor is blaming her.  There are several people who have commented here who are only too sure that somehow it was all her fault (*she might have faked a pregnancy to keep him! She was so controlling he had no choice but to break up by voicemail! How stupid was she to be engaged for eight years!).  Even the worst church counselor could not be more judgmental toward her than some of the commenters here.     

        • avatar Sadie BB says:

          Katherine –
          Perhaps I should have said ‘not JUST a church counselor’.
          I am sure they would lend a sympathetic ear, but doubt they can write a prescription for that depression & crying herself to sleep every night problem. It also concerns me that it’s a small town church and likely everybody knows everybody else and it all seems a wee bit incestuous with everybody in everybody else’s business.
          And then of course it could be that her problem conflicts with the teachings of the church. What if she’s a lesbian and can’t be happy with any man, or make him happy either? Not that I think that’s her particular problem – but there could be a conflict of interest here and I think a neutral, trained professional could provide her some perspective.

  16. avatar mayma says:

    I’m kind-of surprised at LW2.  The internet is not to blame for that crime, and I would think that an ADA should know that the woman’s radar was likely badly broken all on its own, way before all that happened.  To the question “Why don’t people look out for themselves?” — you’d have to go much farther back than their internet browsing history.

  17. avatar lisakitty says:

    LW2:  I get a little weary of this whole “the internet is so dangerous” mantra.

    There are many ways that the internet has made it EASIER to check up on people.   While online dating sites are fairly anonymous, you can use the same computer that you look for a boyfriend on to check if he’s in the nationsl sex offender registry, where he works (if he’s on LinkedIn), what he really looks like (facebook).  there are even cell phone apps now that can do background checks pretty cheaply and easily.

    People have been jumping into bed with people they meet at bars for years and years, people have actually married people sight unseen (matchmaking services) since the dawn of time, etc. etc.  What it all boils down to: you and you alone are responsible for your personal safety and the safety of your family.  getting involved with someone you don’t know, whether it be a face to face meeting, a set up, someone you meet at church and don’t really know, you are responsible for doing your own “due diligence” as the LW says, to do what you can to protect yourself.

    And then realize, that even knowing that person, you still may not really know them.  Doubt that?  check out letter number one, as another poster pointed out.  You never really know.  Life is a crap shoot.  You can try to load the dice, but sometimes you just don’t win.   And then sometimes, you do.  It’s all a roll of the dice.

  18. avatar A R says:

    LW1: Ah…there are two sides to every story. His comment about being afraid she’d manipulate him into staying, coupled with his refusal to dialogue with her makes me wonder if she was calling too many shots in that relationship.

    In my twenties I broke up with a very controlling, persuasive fiance over the phone (I knew he’d talk me out of it in person), I actually left my house and *hid out* so he could not track me down. He was not abusive, just very emotional and very opinionated and insistent that the relationship could work. I pretty much had to refuse to speak with him for months and avoid my old haunts to make him believe I meant it. My parents were incredibly glad that I was shed of him so they did not try to talk me into meeting with him or helping him gain a sense of closure. I don’t regret my coldness to this day. I shudder to imagine myself married to him.

    Not saying she’s not hurt, but this could be one of those times where the woman dug in tooth-and-nail; perhaps he’s been trying to shake her loose for years.

    • avatar carol grzonka says:

      being afraid she’d ‘manipulate’ him into staying?  please!!! that’s usually just something a weak man says to make a woman feel bad about rightfully earned distress. oh, and make her back off from making him feel bad about something horrible he did to her.  again with blaming the victim.  does it occur to anyone that maybe the new job enables him to support himself, by himself, and that he doesn’t need her financial contribution anymore? 

      • avatar Sadie BB says:

        Hi Carol!
        I agree the guy is weak and thus the jerky behavior. Weak people often feel they can’t afford / be safe doing the right thing. But if he signed the papers he needs to pay up.
        And I was wondering how the new job fit in to the picture – you have explained it!
        On the flip side, she asked for an explanation and she got it. That’s how he sees her. There’s a fair number of guys who prefer a take-charge woman but I’m afraid most of them have ‘loser’ tattooed on their forehead, alas in invisible ink.

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        The only reason she’s the victim is because she wrote the letter. For all we know, there could be another advice column publishing a letter that goes something like this: “FREEDOM! I finally scraped together the guts to leave my ex, whose constant harangue and overwhelming neediness dominated my life for the past eight years…”

        The point is—there are many sides to every story, and everyone has a starring role in this play.

        • avatar David Bolton says:

          And LW2’s letter is that eye-rolling kind of PSA that I see so often on other advice columns. Yes, we know that the Internet can be dangerous and Ted Bundy was hot.


      • avatar A R says:

        Carol, manipulators are strong people, and their skills are often underestimated. I’ve known male and females who are masters at the game. They never take any blame, which you’ll notice the letter writer didn’t do. (Many reasonable people will cotton to being part of the myriad of problems that plagued their relationship, even if they feel they the other person was more to blame.)

        Besides, not every one who claims to be a victim actually is one. I’m really tired of hearing don’t “blame the victim”. There are victims, then there are folks who are part of the problem.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        All righty, then, Carol, but how many times on this site have we heard women bitterly complaining that a man was “trying to manipulate” them into something, and the righteous defenders of the feminine have risen up, and proclaimed him a pig, and a controller, and an abuser without taking into the least bit of consideration that perhaps SHE is a weak woman who won’t confront her issues, and is simply using that as an excuse to avoid explaining her behavior?

        Once again, the information is incomplete, but I noticed a few interesting things within the body of the letter. One, she allows that she knew he was generally unhappy, but assumed it was his new employment. Of course, she says “thought” it was because of stress related to work, but if you don’t really know…you ARE making an assumption…and given a new house, a move, and an upcoming wedding…I’d say that there were various stressors to investigate besides his job, all of which she ignored. She also says that they were arguing prior to his leaving (it is unclear whether or not this is one hour before, or continuously in the days and weeks leading up to his departure), and that he refused to “open up”. Perhaps he was fearful of telling her the truth…and yes, a tiny, fragile-seeming woman absolutely can manipulate a man into doing incredibly foolish things, much less making poor decisions, or losing the incentive to follow what his heart and mind are telling him. That doesn’t necessarily make that man weak, or cowardly, or incapable…any more than a woman would be faced with a pleading, soft-voiced, emotionally destroyed man.

        Also, I rather doubt that his decision actually came as a “complete surprise” to his family, as he immediately went to live with them, obviously with no comment from them to her, or reluctance on their part regarding his return home. I would hazard a guess that they just might have been expecting this. Then he breaks-up with her via answering machine message (the only part of his departure that I find supremely tacky…as answering machines rarely leave much time for details. Please don’t retort that an email would have been just as loathsome…although a text would have been revolting…because emails are to today’s society what elaborate letters on personal stationary, sealed with a sad au revoir and a tear, were to yesterday’s), the content of which we no nothing about…and blithely embarks on a vacation with his family. All of this suggests that his family not only knew, but that they supported his decision, and that, for some reason, they kept their council until the break-up. I do believe that LW1 may have been perceiving her situation through eyes wide shut.

        And, I must add, never, ever, ever, under any circumstances, pack the bags of an angry person who has been showing signs of deep and abiding unhappiness for a serious length of time, after an argument that has resulted in his OR her decision to leave, and give them permission to “just go ahead…you need some space”. That’s an engraved invitation and the gold key to the crapper. Good grief, talk about over-confidence…this wasn’t a child she was dealing with at all.

        I want all of you to think about something no one else seems to have even remotely contemplated while commiserating with the LW: her wayward fiance’s situation at the time of the “sudden break-up”. Here is a list of changes for everyone to consider:

        1) He moved to a new town, clearly far away from his family. Somewhere she clearly is familiar with, and very comfortable (before the cataclysm).
        2) He took a brand new job. No mention as to whether she is working or not. No clue as to whether this was a forced decision (as in he lost his job in some way) or if this was by free choice. It is obviously, per her information, a stressful job that he may not like.
        3) They purchased a house, which is extremely stressful. If he is the sole earner, than the onus for paying for it rested with him.

        But, even more curiously, he abandoned his entire investment…house, whatever money he paid in advance for movers, furniture, deposits on utilities, the wedding…everything. He abdicated. Apologies to all who simply want to see him as a feckless jerk…but abandoning everything…in other words, giving her a chance to seek legal recourse against him, and I have no doubt that she can, given the circumstances, for financial compensation, pain and suffering, breach of contract…there must be many ways in which she could legally destroy him (I’ve seen a lot of people justifiably buried under mountains of legal issues for much less egregious sins)…speaks of a serious need to escape, and quickly. Please, not the eight-year-engagement…she sounds perfectly all right with that, and frankly, a great many people seem to have these extended engagements and always have…and to make very successful marriages out of them when they decide the time is right. She could socially ruin him as well…a relatively simple thing to do in a small town, should she be so inclined.

        So why did he run the way he did? Even if it seemed sudden to her, I’d say his family knew, and supported him completely. He’s returned now…after staying with his parents for two months…and while she refers to him as unrepentant…we don’t know his situation, or much about theirs’ other than he won’t apologize, or give a satisfying explanation. Has she asked him about finances, paying his share, or any of the nitty-gritty practical issues? We don’t know. Does he still have his job? No idea. She did not mention a female in tow, and I suspect that, if they share a church home, she’d know about a woman in his life if there was one in the wings.

        I think that his departure sounds panicked, and while his break-up method was clumsy, his continuing refusal to explain, even in the face of possible social ostracization, potential serious legal trouble, and even personal emotional discomfort is puzzling and a bit mysterious. No, I’m not projecting…but this doesn’t seem to be such a case of the sudden appearance of Mr. Hyde as everyone seems to think.

        Deeper meanings, dears, deeper meanings.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Uh, Carol, where in the letter does the LW state that she is actually making a financial contribution? We certainly don’t *know” that she is…but we do know, based on her own admission, that her ex was unhappy with his job (after all, she blamed all of his stress and unhappiness on his new employment, while conveniently disregarding any other possible sources…a move away from home, purchasing a new house, what appears to have been a rather elaborate wedding, given all of the apologies, regrets and cancellations she had to deal with all on her own). Given the information she so helpfully provided, which also included the fact that he moved back in with his parents…not into an apartment or another house, I would hesitate that he saw this job as some golden opportunity to be self-supporting. We don’t even know if he has retained the job…if you add up the time that he absented himself from her locale, it comes to about three month, and that is a long time to be absent from a brand new job and be able to keep it.

        Also, he might well have taken a serious financial hit due to payments made on the move, the house, and the wedding…and he seems to have forfeited all without a backward glance. He is probably liable for a great deal financially by laws similar to those that occur in divorce cases…defaulting on loans, payments due, breach of contract, pain and suffering…and a man who lived with his parents while getting his head together doesn’t sound all that financially secure to me.

        But hey, he MUST be using her in any way he can. Probably gave her an STD or two, has three or four baby mamas on the side, is bi-curious and trolls gay hook-up sites, is a politician, a rapist and a pedophile pries, and used to be a woman. Maybe he does wound porn or is in to beastiality as well. Why not? Go for broke.

        For the sarcasm challenged, yes, I was being *that way*. And all men are goats’ penises. Oy veh.

        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          O gods of typing, forgive me my typos, for I am a two finger, two thumb, 90 wpm typist, and know not what I do.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” anyone? There is only one difficulty with doing even the most extensive background check on *anyone* you might take an interest in…whether you meet them on the internet, through the “safety” of your church (pedophile priests, dears, and pervert preachers), a college course, your favorite auntie, in a bar, at the workplace…and that is this: Successful criminals will not HAVE a record, will not BE suspicious, and may seem like perfectly reasonable, decent, good citizens with whom to have a bit of fun, or worthy of more serious consideration…or even to be The One.

      They aren’t all loners, they didn’t all wet the bed, or set fires, or torture animals, or have mommy issues. Successful murderers don’t get caught…and the cold case files are filled with photos of the dead for whom there has never been, and may never be justice. Life isn’t “CSI” or “NCIS”, and DNA matches and miracles don’t occur in an hour’s time, allowing for commercial breaks. If you want to watch a show that will test your resolve, try “Forensic Files”…some of the actual cases discussed on that show took decades to work through, and it isn’t always DNA, sometimes it’s a partial fingerprint, or footprint, or another bit of evidence that does it. And for every one that is closed, there are hundreds left open.

      I suppose that one can live one’s life in a morass of paranoia and terror, based on letters such as the dire warning of LW2. Or, one can use a modicum of common sense. That probably wouldn’t allow for moving in with someone at first sight, or picking up absolute strangers in bars and clubs (I had three different friends raped and beaten senseless by men who looked utterly innocuous…one of them more than once, by different men…back in the bad old days. Men whose names they weren’t even sure of, and whom they couldn’t begin to identify. Men they took back to their apartments, who knew where they lived, who they carelessly picked up in bars. I was reckless…but I picked my poisons with a good deal more deliberation than that), or throwing caution to the winds when it comes to internet meetings (o, how easily those can be manipulated and falsified). There is nothing wrong with caution, or self-preservation.

      But people see these things as black and white, all or nothing, do or don’t. There is a middle ground. Personally, I have never known a soul who has managed a successful, long-term relationship based on an internet meeting (but too many who have had sad and demented mini-disasters, and one very lonely man who met a street-rat crazy stalker who terrorized him for several months after an awfully precipitous dive into…mmm…crazed weasel lust and proposals of marriage), but then, I’ve both experienced and seen many relationships that started from what would be considered more conventional forms of introduction, and full disclosure of a given person’s past, go horribly wrong. No matter how you go about the process of finding whatever sort of companionship you seek, the best and only thing you can do is exercise a bit of caution and common sense…and trust YOUR instincts.

      There are no guarantees, no promises that all will be well. There never have been. But if we live our lives in constant fear, we might as well be dead.

  19. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    Letter #1 – As I was reading this letter, I too had the same immediate thought that Margo shared, this young woman needs to focus on the blessing in him showing his true colors. No one is all right and no one is all wrong. She may be the one to write in and offer her perspective on the breakdown in the relationship, but we aren’t seeing his perspective. There may be on his side legitimate reasons he left.

    How he left is most definitely immature and irresponsible, but the bottom line is it was (given his cautions about their incompatibility)  the right thing to do. Far too many men and women go through with the wedding, have kids and the whole nine yards and then end up regretting it. I have always believed, no matter how inconvenient it is to others, or contracted vendors, etc. etc., never marry if your gut says not to marry.  This writer will soothe her heart and mind best, by accepting it didn’t work, not trying to get closure, but just wish him well and focus on her own life. Rarely as she said, things like this happened out of the blue. The signs had to be there, she just chose not to put the weight they needed on them. She dismissed them as light issues, when indeed they were heavy.

    Letter #2 –  I still say online dating sites are a valuable tool in meeting people. However I make no distinction between online vs. face to face meetings. You should ALWAYS investigate anyone you meet and validate they are who they say they are. I have met men who have told me they were the president of a company, only to find out they were anything but. Or that they were married once, only to find they are just out of a 5th marraige. And conversely I have found out men have investigated me with the idea of finding out if I had money because they “thought” they could use me financially.

    You can check to see if they have been arrested for violent reasons or convicted of sex abuse or something like that. But sadly, you aren’t going to know if a guy has a violent streak until you see and experience it. He can look great, sound great and be charming. But out of no where choke you or slap you. Then you know it’s time to leave (if you can) but for the most part most violent men don’t look or act violent. I happen to like very masculine, manly, assertive, take charge, authoritative men. The stereotype is that this type of guy is the type that would be an abuser, but that has NEVER been my experience. So one never knows……    

  20. avatar French Heart says:

    #1 There is no mention of love in this letter. None. Lots of mention of stuff, no love. A catalogue of things to do, no love. The fellow was immature…but he may have felt overpowered. Hint: Who packs another adult’s bag–unless he is ill? Takes two to tango. There is more to this story than one side.

  21. avatar Elizabeth L says:

    Apparently his family knew the relationship was over because they scheduled a vacation ! The best way to get over this is to realize you got off easy you could have ended up married to the bum.
    The DA cannot understand why ‘people’ do not look out for themselves I suspect he really meant ‘women’ and yes they should and I know you can murderer someone in a hundred different ways but homicides would be way down if it were not so easy to get guns in America

  22. avatar Lynne says:

    LW1: Difficult as it seems now, count yourself lucky that this guy is out of your life. You don’t need him or his family.   

  23. avatar Lym BO says:

    nice try to blame guns. Those pesky things are always causing trouble. Sigh! Let’s chant this: “If someone wants to murder another, they will find a way.” Sheesh! Not getting caught is the key & guns are not it for that issue. Dummies use guns for murder. LMAO!

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      Ah, Lym Bo, you said it so well…Only dummies use guns.

      Since time immemorial, we’ve been finding ways to murder each other…rocks, bits of string, toxins of all sorts, sharp, pointy objects, both natural and constructed, pushing or throwing from high places (defenestration…what a lovely word), burning, drowning, burying alive, suffocation…and far more innovative and endlessly fascinating methods as well…none requiring the use of firearms. It’s part of the human (not just *male*) condition that we kill one another, and rather more indiscriminately than members of most mammalian species. I do believe that only sows of the porcine variety (female bears and various other species are also referred to as “sows”; I was clarifying) kill their young as effortlessly and needlessly as homo sapiens females do, and only chimpanzees seem as capable of senseless violence and bloodshed as human males. Quite the comparison, eh?

      And neither species tends to have card-carrying members of the NRA counted among its members…in fact…I’d say that both pigs and chimps may be smarter than the average NRA devotee. No, I am not pro-gun-control. I am also not a collector, hunter or “nut” (the latter is not in the same category as the first two). But to blame the ease of attaining guns in this country for murder is specious at best.

  24. avatar Lym BO says:

    Re LW1: No one has really commented on the fact that one of the things this woman is feeling most is extreme embarrassment & humiliation. I mean really how foolish she must feel that 1. she stayed with this guy for 8 yrs, 2. she didn’t see the signs, 3. everybody in town & church knows. LW1: know that everyone in town is likely on your side minus his parents. You learned a lot in eight years. Also, know that there may be a guy who has been pining for you & will come forward now that you are FREE! Chalk the whole thing up to experience. Also, realize it’s probably not that you didn’t see the signs so much as this guy cracked under some pretty intense pressure & it’s good to know that before you start a life with obstacles beyond comprehension. Life will go on. Take a trip, enjoy yourself. As for counseling, I’m not a huge fan. Some of the posters are suggesting you need to reflect n how to avoid this type of guy or that you have a strong personality. So what. You are who you are. Now you will just have to find a better match. Wishing you the best!

  25. avatar Frau Quink says:

    Dear Wool: By now you have probably figured out that ex-fiance  did you a huge favor. Hopefully, you will now, maybe with professional help, figure out why you were in the dark for eight years. Best wishes.

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  27. avatar EmmaS says:

    Abusers and killers are found everywhere, not just online. Sadly, many male abusers kill their girlfriends/wives after the woman leaves. It is a painfully common pattern in male abuser-female victim relationships. Everyone needs to be alert for controlling behaviors no matter how you meet.