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Dear Margo

Dear Margo column

Q. My live-in boyfriend of five years recently dumped me. This is sad, but survivable.

What I can’t get past is that when he made the breakup speech (”I don’t make you happy, I’m not happy, so we should end this”), he said, “I always want to be friends, and there’s no one else.” Two weeks after that, we were still periodically talking because we wanted to stay friends, and once again, he volunteered, “We were just wrong for each other, and there’s no one else.”

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Well, actually, there was someone else, someone he met at work about a month before he broke up with me, and someone he spent the weekend with four days after his second “there’s no one else” speech.

Obviously, I’m still reeling from the breakup, and even more so from the fact that he slept with someone else so soon afterward. But the fake “there’s no one else” declaration was like salt in the wound. Am I overreacting? I don’t get why he would lie. Should I just get over this and realize the real hurt is from getting dumped and the deception part is just a detail?

A. I can see why his false declarations would, after the fact, seem like salt in the wound, but from what you say, I think he was just trying to cushion the blow. I believe his statements about there being no one else were meant to be considerate of your feelings. Who, after all, wants to hear that things have ended because Bubbles caught his eye? Underlying the fact that there was someone else must have been his stated feeling that he wasn’t happy — ergo, he knew the relationship was not working.

Try to interpret his letting you down gently as an attempt at kindness rather than his being duplicitous. And yes, I think your real hurt is about the romance being kaput. And maybe there is no need to “remain friends.”

Q. There is not out-and-out warfare with my mother-in-law; it’s more like an armed truce. My husband and I laugh about it, and he told me early on: “It’s not you; it’s her.” I don’t even have a problem being with her at family affairs, but one little thing does get to me, and I wish I had a better way of responding, or at least a better way of thinking about the digs.

No matter what I show up in, she begins the conversation with “Oh, you’re wearing . . . (fill in the blank: last year’s color, such a short skirt, an unflattering fit, etc.). I don’t actually care what she thinks (and I doubt it’s even valid), but I would like either something to say in response, or at least some new way to interpret the criticisms when they start flying my way. Considering the problems a woman could have with her m-i-l, I know this is a 2 on a scale of 1-10, but still.

A. Here’s what to think — and understand. The woman is passive-aggressive. She’s not inclined to come at you with both barrels blazing, so she takes a subtler tack. It’s what we used to call “being nibbled to death by ducks.” Maybe it’s her personality, maybe she wouldn’t care for anyone her son married, whatever.

Now here’s what to say, if you think that will make you feel better and if you are disposed to neutralizing her. At the next evaluation of your outfit, you might say, “You could be right. Maybe we should go shopping together, and I could learn from you.” Bingo. (And I seriously doubt she will take you up on the offer.)

All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dearmargo.

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