Dear Margo: What To Make of a Quick Turnaround

Margo-Howard_tall10Margo Howard’s advice

What To Make of a Quick Turnaround

Dear Margo: My situation is, to say the least, confusing. I’ve been with my boyfriend for a year, and a week ago he proposed. Normally, any girl would be extremely excited, and I am, to an extent. In the past year, however, we have been through so much that I can’t help but be reticent about making any type of wedding plans.

When we first got together, I lived in the South and he lived in the Midwest. I was coming out of a long relationship and drove to see him for his birthday. Then he came south with me. About two months later, we went back for a family event, and the very first night there, he ditched me to hang out with other girls and lied about it when I confronted him. About a month after that, he left his phone out. I got nosy and found out that just a few days before that he had cheated on me. We worked through it and moved to the Midwest about six months ago. Once here, I found out that he was still talking to his exes and basically playing me. Again, for some reason I stayed.

I can’t say I’m an angel, because I have thought about going back to my ex, but I’ve never cheated. The past few months have been amazing, almost like our relationship is the way it was supposed to be from the start. He’s being supportive and giving me the love I’ve deserved all along. But I still feel like I never know what might happen. I love his family, and they love me and say I’m the best thing that’s ever happened to him. Why am I so worried that this won’t work? — Hesitant

Dear Hes: Well, perhaps you are remembering something about a leopard and spots. The turnaround is somewhat hard to understand, unless between his bad behavior and his good you won the lottery. Time, I think, will give you the answer. Don’t set a wedding date until more time has gone by. See if the good behavior continues. Tell him you want to extend this lovely period and see no reason to rush things. And PS: No one really ever knows what can happen. — Margo, historically

Gifts and Thank-You Notes  

Dear Margo: In the past two months, I have sent a wedding gift to newlyweds, a book to my young niece and some clothes from my teen to the daughter of a friend. I never heard from anyone about whether the packages ever arrived until I finally asked. It was then that I learned that all three packages arrived and were welcomed.

Is it me, or are people just not saying “thank you” anymore? A simple email saying they got the package would be more than enough. I don’t expect a written thank-you note from anyone anymore, although my three teens and I still send them and will continue to do so. — Not Emily Post, But Still…

Dear Not: You are not wrong or strange to want to have a gift acknowledged, but you may be “old-fashioned,” as am I … along with everyone else who is what we used to call “well-raised.” It really does seem that many people are not saying “thank you” these days — or RSVPing, for that matter.

I have adopted my mother’s approach to non-responders. I call and ask whether the gift arrived so that I will know whether or not to complain to the store. Strangely, there are people who get huffy should you ask whether they got your gift! This actually happened to me. I don’t know if this means the woman was embarrassed and therefore doubled down on being rude, or if it was just not part of her repertoire to say thank you. My rule of thumb has become this: If a gift is not acknowledged, there will not be a second one. — Margo, appropriately

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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.


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19 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    Letter #1:  Give it time but if your gut is telling you to back away…back away.
    Letter #2:  What Margo said. 

    • avatar Ariana says:

      LW#1: Exactly – always go with your gut feeling. A couple months blissful period is not an indicator for the rest of your life, when you’ll put your entire trust into one person and depend on them to be there for you (and vice versa). He is probably sensing your doubts about the relationship and therefore is stepping up his courting in order not to lose you. It doesn’t mean he’s changed, it means he is putting enough in the relationship right now so you don’t dump him.  My friends have a nickname for this behavior: “Secure & Search” – i.e. keep your gf mollified while looking out for the next best thing.
      Be sure to calculate in the risks of a marriage with a known cheater and liar. Add some stresses that come with lifetime partnership: children, mortgage payments, retirement security…. Is he going to be a dependable partner for you and you for him?

  2. avatar Toni Jean says:

    For some reason lw 1 sounds fake. If it’s not she should end the relationship. A year and he’s cheated on you multiple times and you wonder why you’re worried it might not work??
    It’s already not working!!

    • avatar Ariana says:

      Yea really. Maybe now that the LW#1 has it all down on paper she can make a decision based on what her head is telling her and not the heart saying “but i looooove him” and turning a blind eye to his faults.
      Plus if she’s fantasizing about going back to her ex already, the relationship doesn’t have a strong basis on her side either. Better for both to cut their losses.

  3. avatar JCF4612 says:

    1) Your beau doesn’t sound like much a prize. Don’t rush into anything permanent.
    2) Rule of thumb:  No more gifts for those too ignorant to acknowlege.  

  4. avatar Cindy M says:

    L #1: Chances are (past behavior is indicative of future behavior) he is playing you still. Or something didn’t work out/backfired in the games he’s playing with others and he’s catching a breather. Maybe he’s decided he’ll “settle for” you after all. I’d give it maybe 6 months, see what transpires. Life is too short and youth too fleeting…
    L #2: It’s the age of ME-ME-ME entitlement. Too many people think they DESERVE a gift (like they DESERVE a Mercedes and a mansion and 500K in the bank). Of course if you complain, they’ll try to make you look petty or “just wanting a thank you.” I’m 47 btw, and increasingly displeased with continued loss of social graces.

    • avatar Ariana says:

      I think I deserve 500k in the bank. =) I wouldn’t say no if someone gave me a Mercedes either. Reminds me of the song… Oh Lord won’t you buy me …..

  5. avatar butterfly55 says:

    LW 1, If you really think you want to marry him, I can’t imagine why, I would take a short trip by myself.  Go back south to visit or something.  Give him the chance to show what he will do.  This might clear your mind or prove that he isn’t going to change.  Better than sitting back and waiting.

  6. avatar zz says:

    LW1 – Get out now, before you get pregnant and are tied to this loser forever.  Why would you even consider marrying a man who has cheated on you even once, let alone multiple times?????   You rebounded into this relationship, which almost never works.  You needed time alone to get yourself emotionally healthy after the break up.  Obviously neither of you is settled with a job, because you have bounced back and forth in locations.  He has cheated on you from the start……I guarantee you that if he wasn’t that into you back then…he never will be!  Run NOW!
    LW2 – I, too, am sick of no acknowledgment from gifts.  Make the call and ask.

  7. avatar mac13 says:

    LW#1; If you are looking for permission to flee, you have it.
    LW#2; Call after a reasonable amount of time. Give the receiver the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe the thank you note was lost in the mail. If it wasn’t, know your gift was appreciated enough to send thanks. No more gifts for them.

  8. avatar hillidaa says:

    While I am fairly good about thank you notes (I still slip up from time to time), the attitude of “if I don’t get a thank you, then no more gifts for you” is completely contrary to the purpose of gift giving.
    One shouldn’t give gifts expecting ANYTHING in return, not even a thank you. One should give gifts out of love and kindness.
    Although, sometimes it is just a matter of aligning yourself with changing communications. One of my favorite “thank yous” was when my younger sister posted a picture of the gift I’d given her on Facebook, tagged me in a one sentence Thank you, and I got to watch all her friends ooh and ahh over the item.

    • avatar Ariana says:

      I’m not sure I agree with you there that not expecting ANYTHING. Humans don’t work that way. When someone realizes they pour thought, time, energy and money into a black hole, they will stop doing it because they don’t feel appreciated.
      My mom always worked full-time and yet on Saturdays would always make sure that there was a full family pancake breakfast on the table. On Saturday it just stopped and everyone was in an uproar. My mom said: I have spent every Saturday morning for years making sure everyone’s together for a family breakfast because I love you, but when not a single person thanks me for their efforts and tries to make me feel appreciated back, then I won’t do it anymore.
      From then on we always made sure she knew we appreciated it. I maybe wouldn’t cut off the people I want to give gifts to cold turkey, but I would send them a reminder to say: I feel hurt by your not even acknowledging my gift. I would love it if you’d just e-mail me or give a call to let me know when you receieve it at the very least.

    • avatar mac13 says:

      See, I disagree with that. I was always told there is more happiness in giving… but where is that happiness if the gift is never acknowledged? Without feedback (in the form of a thank you) how do you even know the gift was acceptable. Yes, I know, you even thank someone for gifts you won’t use. You are thanking them for thinking of you. If someone receiving a gift can’t muster some kind of thank you, well, why are you bothering. Where is that happiness in giving.

  9. avatar Kathy says:

    LW1- For maybe three out of  the past 12 months, he’s been faithful – you think.  Oh my gosh, grab him!

  10. avatar John Lee says:

    Re: LW#1 – As long as there are women this stupid, there will be men this slimy.
    However, if you’re interested in an open marriage, you should bring it up and see if he’s up for it.  But as for a monogamous marriage, LOL, that’s not going to happen with this guy.

  11. avatar Diane Shaw says:

    Ltr. #1 – Neither of you sound mature enough for marriage and I suspect are still relatively young. I hope you haven’t already complicated matters by living together and entangling yourselves. You are smart enough to recognize if you’re hesitant, to pay it heed. Much, much more time is needed and maybe even time apart.