Q: A few months ago I discovered that my partner of 14 years, "Curt," had been sleeping with my 20-year-old son, "Troy's," girlfriend, "Jenna." Our family is crushed at the betrayal; Curt crossed so many boundaries. We have a daughter together, and she considered Jenna her sister.
I hurt for myself as well as my son, who can't believe that the man who helped raise him would do this to him.
Jenna admits that the affair is half her fault. She had been sending Curt provocative photos of herself. Troy has forgiven her. When he told her he was still willing to work on their relationship, she ended it with Curt.
I have kicked my former partner out of the house. No one wants anything to do with him or Jenna. However, I told Troy I would support his desire to repair his relationship with her. I feel I owe it to him after what his "stepfather" did. My problem is, I'm having trouble actually doing it.
I am so conflicted! While I would like to accept Jenna for my son's sake, I hate her for having so little respect for me and my feelings that she'd have sex with the man I loved.
Torn and Hurt in Illinois
A: Your feelings are valid. You were betrayed by your partner and your son's girlfriend. While you may, at some point, be able to "forgive" Jenna and accept her back into your life, the promise you made to your son was premature.
Rebuilding trust will take time, and everyone needs to be able to talk their feelings out. It would be better to do this with the help of a licensed family therapist who can mediate and guide you through the process. (It will be a process.)
Also, as much as your son may love this young woman, he should plan a long engagement and lots of premarital counseling before he finally ties the knot - if he does at all.
After many failed relationships, an old flame is burning
Q: I have really only loved one woman. I don't think "Debra" ever realized it, even though we were friends. Since leaving high school 14 years ago, I have not been able to keep a relationship with a woman going for more than a few months. (I haven't seen Debra in nearly 16 years.)
I tried counseling, but it wasn't especially helpful. I have done Web searches and think I have finally located Debra. It appears that she's married. I don't really think I should contact her, but I have always wondered if she felt the same way about me.
I haven't been with anyone for five years. I have always thought about what might have been, even when I was in relationships. Please help me decide. I don't know if it is closure I'm looking for.
Pining in Jamestown, N.Y.
A: What you're looking for is the realization of a high school fantasy, but what you're more likely in for is a cold dose of reality. Debra has moved on in her life, but you have not. You may have picked the wrong therapist or quit counseling too soon.
My advice is to stop trying to go back to high school and return to therapy before you waste any more time. You may have been spending far too much time living in the past. It's time to move on and start living in the here and now.