DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I've been seriously seeing this younger woman (by 11 years) I met at a social. I went with her on her birthday to her mom's. I wasn't prepared about the family -- had only seen a pictures at her apartment except of her remarried dad. I was shocked when she pulled up and the house was familiar. The mom turned around to see me and extended her hand automatically. Shock! It was a woman I'd met online, and gone out with a few times, and had sex with upstairs at that very house. I stopped seeing her in a mean and cowardly way. She looked mortified, and we stood there struggling to say something. My girlfriend said, "You two know each other?" and the mother said no, and I said yes, without thinking. We got through supper and the birthday cake with about a dozen friends and relatives in the room. Then I made excuses and took off "to see to a problem at work." My girlfriend wanted to know what was going on and I didn't have the heart to tell her. Instead, I broke up with her the next day, which has been causing both of us pain. What should we do? I don't want to marry the daughter of someone I slept with, so what's the point of continuing? -- Ham in the Sandwich, St. James
Dear Ham: There is no point. This is a good time to make fake excuses and get out of their lives. There's no need to tell this young woman the unfortunate truth about you and her mother. It would be psychologically damaging for everybody. You could never be a happy, trusting family. There are enough people living in a city this size for both of you to find less complicated relationships than this one. Let your girlfriend be mad and hurt for a time and you put up with the pain as penance for the miserable way you treated her mother. You know what they say about dating karma.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: Please tell this to Concerned Sister who's trying to help her older brother who lives off her parents and is nasty and racist: I was in her very shoes 15 years ago. I grew up with my older brother who thought the world owed him a favour. He expected the best from everybody and demanded nothing of himself. Our parents eventually moved to a different part of North America, and he was "orphaned" at the tender age of 27. This younger sister should feel no guilt in retracting her previous invitation for him to come live with her in the city. It would be a drain emotionally, spiritually and financially. It's also OK to keep communication at a minimum until he demonstrates the desire to change. My brother really liked to party and usually with the wrong people. He was arrested numerous times and went to court-ordered rehab. I hit the wall when some unsavoury people tried to get into my apartment building looking for him. Any mail that showed up for him at my address I marked return to sender. I had to change my phone number multiple times. I finally told him point-blank I had room for him in my heart, but he was not sharing my home, getting close to my kids, using my address again nor was I ever lending him money. I was also willing to see him in rehab, but not while he was in jail. It took a long time for him to get that. Unfortunately for my brother, his lifestyle caught up to him and he died at a very young age of 39, living alone and essentially cut off from his family due to his choices and behaviours. -- Been There, Winnipeg
Dear Been There: Sometimes there's nothing you can do to help a family member and they have to stand or fall on their own. Let's hope Concerned Sister learns by your experience, and rescinds any invitations to her spoiled, lazy and possibly addicted older brother to come to the city and stay with her and her boyfriend. It would turn into much longer and would be the end of them. In her letter to me, she said he also makes racist remarks and her boyfriend is of mixed race. Unfortunately, as much as we love our siblings, once they get past a certain stage, we can't always be there to rescue them. Like a drowning person, they are likely to take us down with them.
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