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Annie's Mailbox

Ask Amy column

Q. My boyfriend and I have been living together for a couple of years. He’s 14 years older, but I do not think the age difference gets in the way. However, while we were in our “dating” phase, I slept with another guy.

We got past it and are together. But whenever I get upset with something he does, he throws my past mistake in my face as if it makes anything he does excusable. I feel I can’t get upset by anything he does because of what I did while we were dating.

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He always says he’s moving on from the past, but then he’ll turn around and say that he doesn’t want to talk about marriage or anything more serious than living together because he thinks I’ll eventually do what I did again.

Amy, I know what I did was wrong, and I’ve tried everything to make this work — from trying to hold back my feelings to sitting down and trying to discuss our relationship with him, but he seems like he’s just unable to move on. Is there anything I can do, or is the only thing left to end this relationship?

A. You say you two have gotten past your infidelity, but you did not get past it. He has not forgiven you. Have you asked for his forgiveness? Ironically, when he punishes you by bringing up your infidelity, he is punishing himself because he is plunging back into a painful time when he felt vulnerable and betrayed. He does not seem able, or inclined, to do the work required to achieve true forgiveness.

You might be able to work things out with the help of a relationship counselor, but for counseling to work your guy needs to recognize the problems in your relationship and determine to try harder — alongside you — to repair them. If he can’t or won’t try, then you need only imagine a future where this issue is always lurking in the shadows.

Q. I belong to an informal blues group, which has held Saturday afternoon jam sessions for many years. There is a core group, but many people have come and gone over the years, and many stick around for a long time. We always had an open-door policy.

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For several months we have been joined by “Matt.” Matt is the most annoying person to show up. Several people have dropped out to avoid him, and those who remain are being driven insane by his incessant chatter while playing, between songs, between sets. He strums his guitar while he’s talking, making it even more unnerving.

Hints about being quiet just slide right off. He’s oblivious to his effect on others. With our long-standing open-door policy, can we simply tell him no one likes him? Can we ask him not to come? That seems cruel.

A. You’ve probably heard of various disorders where people have trouble reading social cues. “Matt” sounds like someone who simply can’t comprehend hints.

So stop hinting. Don’t be cruel by telling him no one likes him. Just tell him, “We have some unwritten rules for how to make our sessions great. Can we keep down the chatter between songs? And Matt, it really bothers me when you strum between songs. Can you stop doing that?”

Q. “Lonely Girlfriend” sat alone in her room sulking, while her live-in boyfriend enjoyed their hot tub with another woman. Lonely should not waste another moment with this guy.

A. Sometimes, seeing your issue in black and white introduces an element of clarity. I hope Lonely can take the hot tub with her.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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