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Dear Mr. Most,

I'm an athlete at a major university and will be a professional athlete in a couple of years. My problem is that anyone finding out that I am interested in guys could ruin me here and in my career. I have a huge crush on one of my teammates and am afraid to even drink at parties because I might say something to incriminate myself.

I certainly can't try to date because everyone in the state knows my face and word would spread like wildfire. I've become really lonely and don't know where to go from here. Please help!
—Brian

Hey Brian,

Mr. M is extremely sad to confess that your letter is the first that has Mr. M stumped. On the one hand, Mr. M wants to tell you that you must be true to yourself and to damn those that cannot deal with your sexual orientation. But, Mr. M also is a realist and understands that if you do come out of the closet that your pursuit of a career as a professional athlete may be compromised. Before those readers who are activists get your knickers in a twist, let it be known that Mr. M is disheartened that such a difficult choice be made. However, it is the truth that most positions in the public eye (e.g., professional athletes, politicians, entertainers) may suffer when their sexual orientation becomes known.

So, Mr. M is enlisting the help of his readers to provide thoughtful and balanced advice for you. Mr. M will read all responses and a summary of the best advice will be presented in a future column. While Mr. M regrets leaving you temporarily hanging, Mr. M is positive that the dedicated readers of this column will provide meaningful insight and caring advice.


Dear Mr. M,
Let's say you've broken up with someone and are still having sex with them four years later (at least once a week) but not allowed to kiss. They say you're "just friends," but if you tell him about having sex with anyone else, they make a nasty remark (but they won't tell you who they're sleeping with). Do you think that person still loves you?
—James, Australia

Hey James,
Mr. M thinks that this person still controls you and enjoys doing so. Love does not enter the picture in this situation. As long as you are happy in being controlled and manipulated, then this guy is perfect for you.
—Mr. M

Dear Dr. G,
I feel in love with the woman who was my first real girlfriend. Although she was not the first woman that I slept with, she was the first that I wanted to see again. We were together for five years. As of Jan. 1, 2001, it's been three years that we have been apart, without any contact. I have no clue what she is doing in her life.

Not one single day goes by where I don't think about her at least once. I know that I cannot be with this woman ever again, because it was not a good relationship, and I am dealing with this fact every day.

When will these feelings go away? I love her so much and I cannot get her off my mind. When I do meet people, I compare them to her. I don't even give anyone a chance. Am I going to be like this for the rest of my life? Should I contact her and tell her what's going on in my life?
—Cookie

Dear Cookie,
The answer to your question is quite simple, but obviously not easy for you.

If you want to let go of this relationship from your past, you must begin to see it as a past relationship and stop focusing so much attention upon it. From your letter, it is clear that you keep your mind focused on this woman and the experiences you had with her. It is a basic fact of the human mind that "what you give your attention to becomes your reality." You are talking about a relationship that ended three years ago, and a person with whom you have no contact. The likeliness of resuming such a relationship, Cookie, is almost zero.

I definitely would not suggest contacting her. Instead, when you find yourself thinking about her, pondering about her life now or fantasizing about sharing your life with her again, tell yourself out loud to stop and remind yourself that the relationship is over.

It is time to grieve the loss rather than holding on. Because you are having such difficulty letting go of this relationship that you further describe as "not a good relationship," you might consider consulting a therapist who specializes in relationship issues and/or finding a group where you can receive support to grieve the loss and understand your reaction to loss.
—Dr. G


Dear Dr. G,
I have been an out lesbian for nearly eight years. However, I have conveniently lived far away from my very conservative parents for the entire time. We have a very important family wedding coming up and I am bringing my girlfriend as my date. Although my entire family knows I'm a lesbian, they have never seen me with a partner. My question is, what is the "proper" lesbian protocol at a large family function where you will be the only gay people at the event. Should I hold back from dancing or showing affection to my girlfriend, or should I act as I normally would in a party situation?

This may seem like a silly question, but I feel torn because I don't want to create any rifts in my family, however, I want to be who I am. Thank you very much for your attention to this question, it means a lot to me to get some advice.
—Question of Protocol

Dear Question of Protocol,
You say that you have been out for eight years, yet have lived away from your conservative parents. Your family is aware that you're a lesbian, but how accepting or supportive are they? If no one is accepting or supportive, that would be a concern to address before you decide about the "proper protocol" for yourself at this family function. Your concern appears to be about balancing being yourself while avoiding possibly offending any family members. You mention holding back from showing affection to your girlfriend or acting as you normally would in a party situation. Of course, anything extremely personal or sexual would be inappropriate in this setting, regardless of your sexual orientation. However, expressions such as caring touch or dancing with your girlfriend are appropriate behaviors at a wedding.

If you are feeling really hesitant, you might want to talk with someone in your family or in the wedding party for support. I hope you and your girlfriend enjoy this celebration.


Dear Dr. G,
For years I have hidden my attraction to women from everyone who knew me, because of my religious upbringing. But I have met a woman who has changed all that. I am in a relationship with a man who I do love. But because of her, I know that my heart lies with a woman. I am so in love with her and want so much for us to be together, she wants the same. But I don't know what to do. I don't want to hurt him, he's the best man I've ever had in my life. We've been together for four years, but I don't feel I am in love with him anymore. This woman has changed my life and given me a feeling I have never had before. Do I stay or do I leave? Please
—Newly Discovering

Dear Newly Discovering,
First, let me suggest honesty. Honesty with yourself most importantly. You say you have hidden a part of yourself (i.e. your attraction to women) for many years. As a start,I recommend the book And Then I met This Woman by Barbee J. Cassingham. Also of great importance is honest communication with the man with whom you are currently involved. You state that you do not want to hurt him. This is understandable, but don't make such a serious decision simply on the basis of not wanting to hurt him. Few things hurt as much as deception in a relationship, so talk to him as best you can about what is going on for you. Be very caring with yourself right now. There are a lot of serious issues going on here. Think them through. Call on your support system. Adding to your support system could be beneficial since your issues may be outside the understanding of some of your current system. It is important to take your time and get to know yourself before you venture into a lesbian relationship. Finally, follow the part of yourself that you know as truth. Whether or not this woman turns out to be right for you, your attraction to women is certainly a part of yourself to explore, understand and come to terms
—Dr. G

Dear Ms. Shell It Out,
I'm really stuck. I've been in a relationship for 16 months, one which came about a year after a turbulent six-year relationship ended and left me devastated. My current girlfriend and I now live together but have been having trouble for about nearly a year because I discovered I had not healed from the previous relationship as well as I thought I had. She is completely devoted to me and loves me to the degree I loved my ex. I love her, but my feelings are not as deep for her as hers are for me.

My ex called me a week ago, after not talking to me in nearly a year, saying that she now realizes what she's lost, that we did have that "once in a lifetime" thing, and that even though she has been in a relationship she describes as good (almost from the day ours ended), she no longer wants it, instead wanting me to take her back. She says she knows now how badly she treated and hurt me, and that she understands I probably don't trust her. After careful thought, I know I still love my ex deeply, and I know I am having a difficult time believing I can trust her now. I know I care about my current girlfriend, loving and feeling affectionate toward her. But I don't love her like I do my ex, and do not feel any of the passion for her we once had. I also know that to leave my current girlfriend, especially for my ex, would crush her as I was crushed. I'm already hurting her as it is. Should I leave them both alone? Should I go back to my ex? Stay where I am?
Torn Between Two Lovers


Dear Torn,
I get a lot of letters describing this same scenario, and my advice is the same to all of you in this situation: Discover the truth.

Many of us have experienced being in a relationship that does not feel quite "right," or at a minimum does not feel as intense as a previous relationship. It is clear that your current relationship does not offer everything you need and that you must leave your girlfriend, if only to be fair and truthful to her. The dilemma in this situation is to figure out how to gently break up with your current girlfriend and be able to maintain your friendship.

Your bigger problem is trying to decipher how you really feel about your ex and why. This woman left you with no contact for a year and all of a sudden claims that she has seen the error of her ways? To use a phrase from my childhood—hogwash! Do not let her play you for the fool.

While you may still have strong feelings for your ex, you need to be strong enough to ask her the difficult questions. Why did she leave? Why is she back? How has she changed and why? And do not accept wishy-washy answers just because you are desperate to have her back. You deserve to know the truth, and if she cannot answer the questions fully and adequately, you are better off to know that this reconciliation is not honest and emotionally equal. Then you should accept that truth, as painful as it may be, and move on.
—Ms. Shell It Out


Dear Ms. Shell It Out,
I have been friends with this girl for about a year; we have become best friends. I have been going through some personal problems and have been on anti-depressants for two months.

Recently we both admitted to having strong feelings for one another and agreed that we wouldn't get involved for the time being, as we are both getting used to the idea while she also has an on-and-off relationship with a guy in another state. There is also the issue of our age difference: I'm 14 and she is 21. Although that doesn't bother either of us, I am still getting over the idea.

A week or two ago we started to get into a relationship, in which she was comfortable. After a day she said she may never be able to commit to this. I got really upset after I realized that I rely on people for my happiness, rather than being happy within myself. I have no idea what to do. Although she keeps saying we can't flirt with each other, she continues to do so. And when I ask her if she is ready, she says, "I am confused." But I don't know if I can take it anymore, I think I am falling for her real bad. What should I do? What does she want?
—Courtnie


Dear Courtnie,
Having realized that I was gay at about your age, I understand the extra pain you are going through, struggling to overcome the normal teenage problems while also struggling to understand your sexuality. It sounds like you have become comfortable enough to explore your sexuality with your friend, and she is now unsure if she wants a lesbian experience or not. Your age difference only compounds the problem. Legally, you are underage and there could be serious repercussions for your friend to explore a sexual relationship with you.

I suggest you try to slow down, as hard as it may be. It takes people different amounts of time to understand their gay feelings, and sometimes that means they deny these emotions while they sort things out internally. Try to step away from the situation with this woman while she sorts out her feelings and explore other options for yourself, especially those that would introduce you to other gay teens. If you live in a large enough city, see if there is a gay teen program that you could get involved with to meet other girls closer to your age (look in the Yellow Pages under gay and lesbian or search on the Internet). Gay.com is another way for you to interact with people closer to your age who are experiencing similar feelings (visit the Women's chat floor and select an appropriate room).

You are absolutely correct that you must find happiness within yourself, and it sounds like you are trying to do this. You must continue examining your feelings and being honest with your emotions. That will get you through this situation as well as all of the other ones you will encounter in your life.
Ms. Shell It Out


Dear Mr. M,
I was involved with a man for seven months and the relationship ended because he moved away and we decided against the long-distance thing. We still kept in touch and every time I would see him, we would get back together. We both seemed to be able to pick up where we left off each time we saw each other with no problem.

Recently, he visited me (while on business) for a few days before I had to leave the country. Before I left, I gave him my best friend's phone number so they could hang out (he doesn't know many people in the city).

A week ago I found out from him that he had slept with my best friend while I was gone. I am really mad at the both of them, but I am especially angry at my best friend for doing it and not telling me. I don't know what to do. It is very tempting for me to cut all ties with my best friend because I have known him longer, yet he still betrayed me.
—Sid

Hey Sid,
Excuse Mr. M, but how, exactly, did your best friend betray you? Since when is it your business who your best friend sleeps with? Or who your former relationship man sleeps with? Granted, it may seem like an awkward situation, but were you betrayed by either individual? Mr. M thinks not.
—Mr. M



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