While I'm away, readers give the advice.
On what (not) to do if you think your child is gay:
I studied music theater in college and the majority of my friends were gay, but I am about as straight as you can get. I always thought this was rather obvious since I dated a lot of different girls, but one day my mother approached me and said, "Are you gay? And if you are I am totally fine with that and I support you."
I said no, and what on Earth gave her the impression I was. She said that I have a lot of gay friends and seem comfortable with them and that she totally supports my lifestyle and will defend me regardless of what people say.
That's when it occurred to me that she hadn't heard me when I said I wasn't gay, and so I repeated myself. But she went on saying that I didn't have to deny it any longer. So I brought up the fact that I dated a lot of girls and she had met most of them. But she said that people want to seem like everybody else and she was behind me 100 percent. So I finally explained that regardless of what she thought I would remain straight.
So she said, "Oh. Well then, I guess I will have to tell everybody that I was wrong."
She had bragged to all of her friends that I was gay and that she was fine with it! For years after, I had her friends ask me if I was seeing any nice boys. My standard line became: "Yes, but he won't have reassignment surgery so it's over."
On people repeatedly drawn to a certain undesirable "type":
When people keep being attracted to ultimately the same "type" (alcoholic, emotionally unavailable, married, player, etc.) the universe is trying to send them a message. What is drawing them to this person? Do they enjoy being a victim? Are they attracted to certain personalities (or appearances) brought on by their own agenda -- to save them, to prove their theories that all men/women are generally untrustworthy or whatever?
I think these people are very good judges of character: They are making psychological beelines for just the type of people they claim they don't want. After all, if they got involved with honest and upfront people, then they'd have to admit they are the ones with the problem.
My live-together and I have this problem worked out. When I look at other women, I owe her a kiss. She will even point out other women and tell me, "You owe me for that one." She recognizes that I am going to look anyway, even when we are together, because a spectacular-looking woman or a sexy pair of heels will catch my eye. She is also aware that I love her and it is just something hard-wired that makes me want to look. After all, I'm not trying to go after any of these women. I love the one I'm with.
E-mail Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org