Dear Abby: I’m someone who doesn’t get noticed often by the opposite sex. So when I do receive attention, it’s a very nice feeling. The problem is, I am getting that attention from a man who is married.
In the beginning, I didn’t know he was married. He doesn’t wear a ring, and he never mentioned a wife until one day while we were chatting, he let it slip. I don’t think he meant for it to happen.
When someone is married, I back off. But for some reason, I’m not backing away from this. I’m starting to have feelings for him. I’m leaving it up to him, though. If he flirts, I’ll flirt back. When he comes on strong one day, the next day he feels guilty and backs off, but then we pick up right where we left off.
I’m not trying to paint him as the bad guy; he’s honestly a really good guy — in my opinion, anyway. I know it’s wrong, and he hasn’t promised anything. We haven’t had any physical contact other than the daily interaction. But it’s messing with my emotions. I don’t want to feel anything for him, but I can’t help it. Help!
— Dazed & Confused
Dear Dazed & Confused: You may not want to feel anything for this married man, but you do. And because you “don’t get noticed much by the opposite sex,” the attention you’re receiving is like water on a parched flower. (Funny how they always seem to pick the vulnerable ones.)
You may not have had physical contact with him (yet), but you are playing with fire. This is no longer an “innocent” flirtation. Someone will get hurt if it continues, and that person is likely to be you. Keep in mind that “good guys” don’t behave the way he does, and this wouldn’t have happened if he had been honest with you about his marital status.
Dear Abby: When I came out as gay, my parents rejected me. It made my early 20s the most challenging period of my life. I have tried to forgive them and move on, but they refuse to acknowledge the trauma they caused.
I was upset all over again last year when they felt sorry for a young adult and let him move in with them. Mom never shuts up about how we should feel sorry for those less fortunate. They act like I have always been blessed and refuse to acknowledge any of the pain or bad things that have happened in my life.
How should I react to this? I’m on a good path now, no thanks to them, and my life has never been better. But I don’t know if I can ever forgive them for being so helpful to a stranger and not their son. Am I wrong to ask where my sympathy was?
— Seeking Validation in Texas
Dear Seeking: If you plan to hold a mirror up to your knee-jerk homophobic parents and expect honest introspection from them, I think you’ll be wasting your time. It’s possible that they think their compassion for the stranger makes up for the way they treated you. Whether you can forgive them for it depends solely upon you.
You are now on a constructive and rewarding path. The validation you are seeking can be found there. Your ability to forgive may come once you have distanced yourself enough that the pain they caused is less acute. I have often advised that when parents are toxic, it’s important to build “families of choice,” and I sincerely hope that is what you are doing and will continue to do.
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