Ask Amy: I don’t want mother-in-law to know how I actually met her son

Dear Amy: I met my husband when I was a part-time sex worker and he was a client. We’ve been happily married for 30 years (I found a new career when we started dating).

We made up a story about meeting at a concert, but my mother-in-law doesn’t believe it. Twice now she has asked me to tell her the “real way we met,” but for obvious reasons I’ve stuck to our story.

She’s a great mom and mother-in-law, and I know her feelings are hurt that I won’t tell her how we met. What can I say to her to make her feel okay with never knowing the truth?

Holding: You maintain that your mother-in-law’s feelings are hurt because you won’t tell her how you met her son. But you did tell her.

I’d say that your mother-in-law making two inquiries in 30 years doesn’t convey a burning need to know or to catch you out, unless the two times she has asked about this both happened last week.

If your mother-in-law seems exceptionally upset and you think it might help to try to talk this through, you could start with some questions (always patiently wait for the answer): “You seem very curious about this. We’ve told you that we met at a concert. What is it that you’re hoping to learn, aside from what we’ve told you?”

She may have heard a rumor and wants to confirm it. But — this is your life and your story, and you should convey your own version of: “This is our story, and we’re sticking to it.”

Dear Amy: I am a single woman in my mid-30s. I have a Ph.D. and currently own a successful business. I recently reconnected with an old friend. Early in the friendship he disclosed that he has a highly contagious STD.

Because of this, we never crossed the line of “friendship.” Recently, we’ve had more time to reconnect and enjoy each other’s company. We’ve already established that we like each other beyond friendship, but we have not discussed whether a physical relationship is possible. I do have questions, but I’m not sure how to ask them.

Considering the fact that he has been celibate since his diagnosis, I am not sure he would know how to answer my questions.

I don’t think I can be in a love relationship without sex. Do you know if couples can be happy without sex? Considering the sensitivity of his diagnosis, how would I start the conversation about intimacy?

Right now, our friendship is parked in “the friend zone” because I don’t know what to do from here. We need some courage to discuss this. Your advice?

Friend-Zoned: You and your friend have already discussed his STD. He obviously felt comfortable enough to share this information with you earlier in your friendship.

The whole issue has taken on more urgency now that you’re looking for safe ways to exit the friend zone. Talking honestly is the most intimate act adults can engage in. Because of this, the prospect of having a deep, searching and honest conversation can be frightening.

I do think it is possible to be in a happy and fulfilled relationship without having sex, but this is not what you want. It is vital that you recognize the importance of your own needs and desires, and to convey them honestly.

The way to have a tough conversation is to commit to it, and then to do your best to communicate clearly. I think it helps to set aside time, and to start by stating: “This is hard for me to talk about, so please bear with me.”

Aside from discussing the various possibilities for a relationship, if you two decide to move forward, you and he should receive accurate medical information from a physician. I think you should also prepare yourself for the possibility that your friend might prefer to keep your friendship exactly where it is.

Dear Amy: Thank you for standing up for kids! The question from “J in N.Y.” made me wince. This was an uncle who was offended when his 3-year-old nephew refused to hug him, and the parents didn’t make the child.

When children are taught that they have the right to say NO to unwanted touching, this protects them later.

Been There: I’ve received many responses to this question, all agreeing that children have the right to their own body autonomy, and parents should protect this right.

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