Ask Amy: Long-lost niece has conditions for contact

FresnoAugust 5, 2013 

Dear Amy: My sister was recently able to contact a niece whom we have not seen since she was 12 years old. She's now almost 30.

The niece said she would like to resume a relationship. Her condition is that we not inform her father (our brother) of any information we receive from her.

My brother is estranged from his two children, but we don't know the reason. My brother has very little contact with me and refuses my requests for visits, but we do communicate occasionally by email and telephone calls.

I would like to have a relationship with my niece, but I don't like the idea of concealing information from my brother.

Can you offer any advice?

— Wondering

Dear Wondering: Your response to your niece should be, "We're so happy to reconnect with you. I never see your father, but I occasionally hear from him. I would never volunteer anything about you or disclose your contact information without your permission, but it makes me uncomfortable to conceal information from a family member. Can we talk about this?"

Your niece may have valid reasons to withhold information from her father, and you should respect this. Forging a relationship with her as an adult gives you an opportunity to help her heal from childhood wounds.

Dear Amy: After 40 years of marriage, I reconnected with an old boyfriend on Facebook. We got together a few times and ended up being intimate. His wife found out, and he broke off contact.

He confided in me that he had cheated on her with another woman for a year.

I can't get over him. I have been in love with him for all these years, never got over him, and find I still have feelings for him. How do I get over these feelings?

— Lost

Dear Lost: The kind of passion you can have with someone from your youth who is unavailable is very different from the steadiness (perhaps staleness) of your very long marriage.

Passion is not rational, but its antidote is. Try to consider rationally the true attractiveness of the serial cheater who rejects you when he is caught.

The way to get over this relationship is to recommit and reconnect to your marriage — one day at a time. If you have learned anything from this episode (perhaps that you want more heat and passion in your life), take these lessons and apply them to your marriage. If you find you cannot override your longings over time on your own, therapy could help.


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