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by Abigail Van Buren

Young Son Longs for a Father, but Mom Doesn't Want a Man

DEAR ABBY: My son's dad cheated on me for years, which resulted in a child with another woman. When I finally got the nerve to date and trust again, the new guy gave me herpes.

Now I find myself repulsed at the thought of sex, and I have no intention of putting myself in the position of having to disclose this information to a new partner. I am content to never have sex again.

The problem is, I have a young son who longs for a father and has asked on several occasions why I won't get a boyfriend. I feel it is unfair to him to miss out on something so important as having a father, but I can't stomach the thought of being with another man. What should I tell him? -- DISGUSTED AND ALONE

DEAR DISGUSTED: Tell your son a version of the truth -- with some judicious editing. Tell him that you were very much in love with his father, but that it didn't work out. Explain that finding the right partner can take a long time -- it's the truth -- and you're not sure when you will be able to provide a father for him. If he wants to know why, tell him your heart isn't ready.

While it's understandable that you would have trust issues after what you have experienced, not all men are cheaters, and a surprising number of people in the United States who have herpes (HSV-2) do not know they have it -- and that they can infect others. This may have been the case with the man from whom you caught it.

If you are reluctant to disclose this information because of embarrassment, there is a website that you might find interesting, It offers a free dating service through which thousands of men and women meet one another. Many very nice, eligible people -- people just like you -- have herpes and live full, happy lives. Please check it out.

Read more in: Health & Safety | Sex & Gender | Love & Dating | Family & Parenting