Dear Abby: Every relationship gets ruined when I push the guy away

Burned by toxic relationships in the past, reader looks for reasons to distrust partner — and is doing it to someone right now.

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DEAR ABBY: Marriage is considered to be imperative in my religion and culture. I’m 29 and still not married. I have commitment and trust issues with guys. I have been in only three relationships my entire life.

Every time things are going well, I tend to self-sabotage and make excuses to push the guy away. I start arguments for no reason or create problems or issues that I fabricate out of thin air. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that my past relationships were toxic and tumultuous. They were cheaters and liars.

I have carried that baggage into my relationship with my new partner by not believing a lot of the things he says. For example, I doubt his feelings for me. When things are going smoothly between us, I always take five or 10 steps back. It isn’t fair that I put him through the wringer, but I don’t know any other way. How can I get past this continuous issue? — PROBLEM TRUSTING IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR PROBLEM TRUSTING: The most effective way to do that would be to talk about this destructive pattern with a licensed mental health adviser. If you do, it may help you rid yourself of the “baggage” you are carrying, understand why you chose the men you did before, and make it easier to evaluate any new relationships that start to develop.

DEAR ABBY: I have known my friend “Matt” for more than 20 years. We’ve been close for most of those years.

Matt is gay, and early in our friendship, we had a mutual friend, “Gary,” who used a gay epithet often, even though he knew Matt is gay. It hurt Matt, but he wasn’t comfortable speaking to Gary about it, so I did. Gary not only apologized to Matt but to this day (some 18 years later), I haven’t heard Gary say that word in our company.

Recently, Matt has started using the N-word. I have told him that not only is it disgusting and offensive, but I compared it to the situation with Gary. Matt laughed it off and continues to use the word with no regard for me. I have started spending less time with him because of it because I don’t want him to think I condone his racist language. Is it time to sever ties with Matt? — DISAPPOINTED IN MARYLAND

DEAR DISAPPOINTED: I think so. The next time Matt uses the N-word, make clear to him that if you ever hear it from him again, your friendship will be OVER. And then follow through.

DEAR ABBY: I feel horrible about my “first time.” It was with my boyfriend, and it happened in the back seat of his car. I had always dreamed of my first time being special, but after realizing we didn’t have many options, we decided the car was fine. Now I feel ashamed and guilty. Can you advise me? — NOT LIKE I IMAGINED IN TEXAS

DEAR NOT: I will try. When did your first time happen? Last weekend? Last month? Last year? Whenever it was, it is in the past. Experience teaches us what works for us and what doesn’t. Learn from it, but don’t preoccupy yourself with regret over something you can’t change.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Good advice for everyone — teens to seniors — is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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