DEAR NATALIE: I have been with my wife for 37 years and I love our companionship, but there is something I’m really struggling with. We have not been intimate in a while, and emotionally, I feel as though we are like siblings – close family, who I love very much, but something is not right. My adult son recently came out as gay and I am so proud of him. She is having a hard time with this, because she has always hoped for children from him and a traditional family landscape. He is our only child. This is bringing up a lot for me. He told us he has been out to his friends for a lot longer, and I was not surprised by this. But what I was surprised by, is that as soon as he came out to us, I started to feel almost envious of him and his freedom to make the choices he wants based on his heart’s desire. Now, I’m not sure that I’m gay, but I feel there is something worth exploring here. I have no idea how to talk to my wife about this, and I’m not sure how my son would feel if I talked to him about it either. Help! – QUESTIONS WITH NO ANSWERS
DEAR QUESTIONS WITH NO ANSWERS: Before you talk to your wife or your son, I recommend you reach out to a therapist about this. If you have a part of you that needs to be unearthed and explored, it may be safer and more constructive to do it with someone who is a part of and who therapeutically works with the LGBTQIA+ communities. You may not know where this feeling came from, but the fact that your son’s self-actualization sparked something in your own spirit is enough of a reason to dig deeper. And let’s say that you discover, perhaps, that you are bisexual or gay. Then what? It will be important that you already have a support team in place so that you can work through how you may approach your wife. You have almost four decades together. That is important and meaningful and something to be proud of. Only you know what’s best for your own future, however, so take this one step at a time. Acknowledge yourself and who you need to be first. Then, focus on how your marriage may be impacted. Good luck to you.
DEAR NATALIE: I work at a coffee shop where I spend a lot of my time. I haven’t dated in a while but I’m ready to get back out there. I have one regular customer that I really enjoy talking to and I want to take our relationship out of the coffee shop. I don’t want to ruin their experience of coming to the coffee shop if they don’t see me the same way I see them, but I know the only way to know is to take a leap. I’ve seen them come in with someone who may be a friend or may be someone they’re dating. I don’t want to overstep, but I also don’t want to make any assumptions. I recently had a customer ask me out, and that made me uncomfortable, since it’s my workplace and it’s my job to be nice to them. But, I feel slightly differently with the tables turned. How can I pursue this potential crush without making things weird for both of us? - COFFEE DATE?
DEAR COFFEE DATE?: If you’ve read any of my other advice columns, I’m not one for subtle. I believe in putting it out there and letting the chips fall where they may. It’s important that you remain respectful and are able to read the room. Have they given you any signals to indicate that they may also be interested in you? If not, that doesn’t mean they don’t “like” you, they could just be shy. But if they are giving you signals, that is a good indication. Are there any events or things happening in the community where you could connect outside the coffee shop? It might be easier (and less awkward) to tell them about a book fair or community potluck, to take things outside of the space of your shifts at the coffee shop. Then you could simply use that as a segue and say, “Hope we can see each other there!” Then, if you do, you are in a different dynamic and it could be easier to ask them out for coffee or dinner. If there are no events to speak of, you may just have to take the leap and see if they want to meet outside the coffee shop to get to know each other better. If they quickly say no, then just move on. Brush it off. But, if they say yes… then who knows? Love could be brewing!
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