DEAR ABBY: Two years ago, I met a gentleman, and he eventually decided we were “soul mates.” I agreed. Over time, we shared our life stories, good and bad. I confided that I’d had an abortion at the age of 18, which has haunted me all my adult life.
Recently he was reciting a chronology of my life. When he got to the abortion, he said, “… and then you became a child murderer.” His comment stunned me. He finds nothing wrong with it. Was this total disrespect, or am I overreacting? — STUNNED IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR STUNNED: That “gentleman’s” remark was not only disrespectful, but also incredibly insensitive and wrong. It is not against the law to terminate a pregnancy in this country. It is a right that many women — and men — fought hard to achieve.
Because each woman’s circumstances are unique, this deeply personal decision is made for a variety of reasons. Like yourself, women experience a range of emotions afterward — including feelings of sadness and anger, but also relief. For this person to have made such an insensitive comment should be a clue that he may not be your soul mate after all.
Because of stigma that, not surprisingly, can cause feelings of shame, many women choose to remain silent about their decision to have an abortion. A resource that could be helpful to them — and to you — is Exhale (exhaleprovoice.org), a nonpolitical, nonjudgmental support organization for women who have had an abortion. Please check it out.
DEAR ABBY: I’m a 33-year-old man in academia, and it has been two years since my last relationship ended. (Her name was “Erica.”) I have always been with older women, the most significant ones being 10 and eight years older. One ended because, in a night of depressed, alcohol-fueled self-loathing, I cheated on her. I don’t make those choices anymore.
I have had chances to date, but none has drawn my interest the way Erica did — until recently. “Angie” is a sweetheart with a good sense of humor. When I’m around her, I start feeling twinges of how Erica made me feel.
I’m surprised by my attraction to Angie because she is only 19. Previous older mates were in education as I am, and Angie is, well, 19. I can’t figure out if this is a genuine attraction, or if I’m trying to prove to myself that I can be involved with someone younger. I admit I’m intrigued by the idea of assuming the role of teacher instead of student.
I don’t want to see Angie hurt by a mistake in judgment on my part. Is it healthy for a 19-year-old to be interested in significantly older men? Should I stop overanalyzing this and give it a try? — MR. X IN MICHIGAN
DEAR MR. X: I think it depends upon what you mean by “it.” Young women can be attracted to older men for a variety of reasons. If Angie is one of your students, I’d advise against a romantic involvement until after she has left your class to avoid any possible accusations of favoritism or even sexual harassment.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.