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Jeanne Phillips

Reconnection with teacher highlight of reunion plans

DEAR ABBY: I’m a woman in my 50s and will be going to my high school reunion in a few months. I recently reconnected with one of my high school teachers, whom I greatly admired. (OK, I’ll admit I had a schoolgirl crush on him.)
He is 10 years older, and we had a friendly relationship “back in the day” with extracurricular school activities (he was a sponsor) and even some outside socializing (dances and such), though there were no lines crossed as far as impropriety. We were both engaged to other people (who both happened to live a good distance away) at the time, so there was no thought of a romantic relationship.
Fast-forward 40-odd years. We are both single (I’m divorced; he never married). We have been emailing back and forth for a couple of months and making plans to get together at the reunion — maybe before. We have discussed a lot of things, but he never mentions dating or his former fiancée, so I sometimes wonder if he might be gay.
I have two questions: (1) Would it still be crossing a line if we started a romantic relationship because I was once his student? (He’s long retired.) (2) How do you ask a man or find out if he’s gay before you embarrass yourself by trying to start a romance?

DEAR TORN: It would not be crossing a line if you and your former teacher were to start a romantic relationship at this point in your lives. However, before you embark on that campaign, it is important that you understand why he has been single all these years.
A way to do that without embarrassing yourself would be to pay him a compliment by saying, “Why is it that such a great guy like you has never married?” Then listen.

DEAR ABBY: Have you ever heard the saying, “A daughter is a daughter all of her life, but a son is a son ’til he takes a wife?” Our son and his family have never spent a single Christmas Eve or Christmas Day with us during the entire 17 years they have been married. A Thanksgiving with them is very rare.
They live an hour away. We and his in-laws live in the same small town, but they spend every holiday at the in-laws’. Their children have no memories of us on the holidays.
When I talked about it with our friends, they said they have the same problem. All of their sons go to their daughter-in-laws’ parents’, too.
With the holidays coming up, I hope you may have something to say about this. When we spoke to our son about it, it just caused bad feelings.

DEAR PROBLEM: My heart goes out to you and other parents who experience this. However, there is nothing I can do to change the behavior of adult children, as regrettable as it may be.
The best advice I can offer is for you — and your friends — to spend the holidays doing things that you enjoy. Take a trip, gather with these friends and celebrate. It would be a lot healthier than sitting around brooding about something none of you can control.
P.S. It’s regrettable that although you live in the same community as the in-laws, you have not been asked to join them for a holiday meal at their table. After all, marriage is supposed to unite families, not divide them.
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 $7 to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.


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