DEAR ABBY: I have led an unusual life. I lived abroad alone in my late teens, spent my early 20s exploring the West, and finished my college degree a year early while working full time. It gave me independence, experience and clarity.
My problem is, in dating I feel leagues ahead of men who are my age. I am attracted to much older men. My current boyfriend is 15 years older than I am. The age gap is often a topic of conversation among my acquaintances, co-workers and some family members. My boyfriend has also experienced unwanted comments about dating a much younger woman.
What are your thoughts on who a person should be dating in her early 20s? And how should I deal with those who believe I am breaking a social code? — OLD SOUL IN COLORADO
DEAR OLD SOUL: I can’t give you an unbiased opinion because when I was in my early 20s, I dated older men. They liked to talk, I liked to listen, and I learned a great deal about life from them. I hope the same will be true for you.
As to how you should deal with people who accuse you of breaking a social norm, unless they have a valid reason for criticizing the man you’re dating, I think you should tune them out.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 26-year-old woman who is afraid of my true feelings. I have been friends with a woman who is a lesbian for seven years. I have always been attracted to women — especially her — but I have always dated men.
I have just ended a five-year relationship, and over the past few months my friend and I have grown very close. I am starting to have feelings for her sexually. I think about her all the time. She’s beautiful, smart, inspiring and has an amazing personality.
My problem is, I have an 8-year-old daughter, and I don’t know how she would handle it if I were to date a woman instead of a man. I am also afraid of how my family would react.
Our attraction is unspoken, but I can see it when I look into her eyes. Should I admit my feelings or should we remain friends? — AFRAID OF MY TRUE FEELINGS IN OHIO
DEAR AFRAID: I am reluctant to advise you to spend the rest of your life living a lie in order to avoid upsetting your family because I don’t think it would be healthy for you.
Talk to your friend. Once you are sure the relationship with this woman is serious, mutual and lasting, you can tell your daughter you are dating. Children are adaptable, and this may be less of a surprise to her than you fear. My advice is to listen to your heart and you won’t go wrong.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and my son get along better with me when they’re not together. When I am there, they gang up on me and become adversarial. I have reached a point where I hate to be around them at the same time.
I don’t know what to do about this. When I try to talk to my husband about it, he gets angry and blames me. I don’t think I can take much more. What do you think about this? — THREE’S A CROWD IN SOUTH CAROLINA
DEAR THREE’S A CROWD: If picking on you is part of their male bonding, it’s unhealthy. Your husband may do it because he has underlying anger issues he doesn’t express directly to you.
Your son may participate because his father encourages it, but he should not be allowed to treat you with disrespect.
Before this takes a further toll on your marriage, the three of you should get family counseling. If that doesn’t help, you may need individual counseling to help you either stand up for yourself or decide whether you can continue living this way.