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I caught my boyfriend on Match.com again. Help!

May 3, 2013, at 9:00 AM

Dear Starshine,

I've been dating the same man for more than seven years. In year three, I caught him on Match.com. He denied that he put himself on there, told me that the site just sends him emails, and assured me that he's in this relationship with both feet. OK, everyone deserves another chance. But I just caught him on Match again; the guff ball asked me for computer help and his message window opened up with 31 matches. Again he swore that it's just junk mail. But he is 66 and should know the difference between right and wrong. I do still love this man. Plus, he has money and helps my daughters and I with various expenses. I hate to give up that support. What should I do?

It's possible he's telling the truth; once you've given your contact info to a dating site (and he's done at least that), it can be hard to shake. But the fact that he hasn't deleted his profile and/or unsubscribed from those emails — even after he discovered years ago that it upsets you — does suggest that he wants to stay connected to the site.

Is he keeping his options open? The only way to know for sure is to join Match.com and see if you can find him on there. If so, you should be able to tell pretty quickly whether he's actively trawling or whether his presence is vestigial and innocuous.

I'm betting — and hoping for you both — that you'll find a profile supporting the latter. Something like: "Sixtysomething fella seeks single mom whose living expenses he can help with. Must be willing to tolerate his lack of computer savvy, and his fairly pathetic but probably harmless need to occasionally remind himself that he's still in high demand with the ladies."

If that's the case, be sure to send the old guff ball a "wink." Before somebody else does.

** 

Dear Starshine,

I fully admit that I was an ass to my family during the Christmas holidays, which I hosted. I was grumpy, easily frustrated, and generally terrible. Afterwards, I contacted each guest to apologize. Most accepted my apology and said not to worry about it. But my sister-in-law said that I was rude to my mother-in-law and that it was terrible. I've tried to talk to her more about it, but she's giving me the cold shoulder. In fact, since Christmas she's been quite rude to me. As a result, I've found myself avoiding her. I'd like to walk away from the relationship and only see her on holidays — but we live on the same block and her kids are often over at my house. I could confront her and hash it out, bringing up all the times in the past that she was rude to me and I let it slide. Does that seem like a good idea? I don't get why she's being so awful to me over this. I can't apologize any more. How do I fix this issue?

Let me see if I understand: You're offended that your sister-in-law agrees with you about your rudeness. And you feel that her rudeness (in failing to forgive yours) is unforgivable. No. I'm sorry. You can't bust up a relationship like that; you two are cut from the same Christmas fruitcake.

When you behave as a grumpy, terrible ass, the best you can do is recognize it and apologize. You don't get to decide if or when the apology is accepted — and holding a grudge against someone for holding a grudge is just more grumpy, terrible assish-ness on your part.

The way to fix this cycle isn't for you to snatch the rude stick back out of her hand and have another turn; it's for one of you to be generous and a model of forgiveness (and by "one of you," obviously, I mean you).

I bet you'll both be laughing about this by next Christmas. Or else someone's going home with Honeybaked Ham in her hair.

Send me your dilemmas via email: ToughLove@TheWeek.com. And follow me on Twitter: @ToughLoveAdvice.

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