DEAR ABBY: Fifteen years ago I had a years-long affair with a woman 23 years my junior. "Alex" was 17 when we first had sex. I never led her on. I told her on many occasions that I would not leave my wife and family for another woman -- even her. I told her I'd meet her secretly for as long as she wanted, but I would commit to nothing more. Alex accepted this state of affairs for several years, and we had what I considered to be the perfect affair. I loved the passionate, uninhibited sex.
Because I could offer no more than the status quo, I wasn't surprised when one night, after a particularly exhausting love-making session, Alex announced she was ending our affair and moving to Los Angeles to be closer to friends. I begged her to reconsider, promised to spend more time with her, and insisted that I loved her. She went anyway. We had no contact other than Christmas and birthday cards.
My kids are now grown and gone. On a recent business trip to LA, I decided to give Alex a call for old times' sake. She was delighted to hear from me and invited me over for a drink. It was just like old times. I wasn't there five minutes when she literally tore my clothes off.
So what's my problem? Alex just told me she might move back here and take up where we left off. Abby, an affair like ours was fine 15 years ago, but I'm no longer comfortable sneaking around. My wife and I have been married 30 years and I don't want to hurt her or give her up. I'm afraid if Alex moves back, we'll get caught. I still love her, and I certainly enjoy making love to her -- but how do I tell her that it's fine for us to sleep together in LA where she lives, but not here in my hometown? -- IN A QUANDARY IN THE SOUTH
DEAR IN A QUANDARY: You are not "in a quandary"; you are in a mess of your own making that could spell the end of your marriage and your reputation. Tell Alex in plain English exactly what you have told me. If that doesn't sober her up and cool her ardor, nothing will. Under no circumstances must you rekindle this affair. Boys who play with matches usually get burned, and I do mean you. So grow up. Your wife deserves better.