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(Yes, one of my guilty pleasures is advice columns.)

The first two letters are an exchange that was published in Dear Abby's advice column yesterday, August 16, 2006. The third letter is a copy of the one I mailed off today in response.

Dear Abby: I hardly know how to put this into words. It is so difficult. Recently, my husband's college roommate came to visit us. These men are in their 40s, Abby. My son, who is 16, heard them talking out on the patio about their life at college. Obviously, they had no clue he was near.

It seems that the two of them had sex with each other that continued during all the four years they were in college. Once he got an earful about their relationship, my son told me he stopped listening.

As far as I know, this visit was the first in 10 years. I never for one moment would have suspected this. It has frightened me in so many ways, and now I need to discuss the situation with my son and my husband and control the damage. However, my son refuses and is pretending now that it's not important.

How do I handle this? We are simple people, Abby, just plain people with a real problem. Can you help me?

--Dumbfounded in San Jose


Dear Dumbfounded: Your son may have stopped listening, but he knew what he heard was important enough that he came and told you. People have been known to "experiment" with their sexuality in college, but a four-year affair goes beyond experimentation.

You need to find out if your husband has continued his bisexual activity since college. If he has, you need to contact your doctor and be tested for sexually transmitted diseases.

Once you know your health status, it will be time to ask your physician for a referral to a licensed family therapist who can help you discuss this with your husband and your son. For everyone's sake, it's important to do it as soon as possible.


Dear Abby: I wonder if you would have given the same advice to "Dumbfounded in San Jose" if her husband had slept with a female friend during college. Or can we presume that having any long-term sexual relationship 20 years in the past means that one is to be automatically 1) suspected of infidelity, 2) likely to have a sexually transmitted disease, and 3) in need of counseling?

Or is it simply too difficult to believe that a bisexual person might be capable of monogamy?

If, as it seems to me, the true issue was the fact that her husband concealed the sexual nature of his relationship with his friend, why didn't you focus on that aspect in your response? You might have pointed out that, while past relationships do not necessarily translate into present infidelity, concealment of those relationships--no matter what the genders of the persons involved--might indeed mean that there is something else to hide. Instead, you chose to focus on the stereotype of bisexual promiscuity.

Certainly I think her husband should have told her long ago about his bisexuality, but given the assumptions made in your own published response I can also understand what might have prompted him to keep quiet.

--Angry [aka me]
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