DEAR AMY: I am a middle-age man. An old friend who lives out of state was recently home for a visit and was showing me some photographs. In one of the photos I saw a teenager in the background and nearly fell off my chair! She looks like she belongs in my family. She looks just like me!
My friend told me she had visited my former fiancee, whom she had not seen in years. When meeting her daughter and discovering her age, my friend became convinced I am the teen’s father.
I have not seen nor spoken to my former fiancee since shortly after we broke off our engagement, primarily because we both moved to other states.
We are now both married and have families. I am quite sure that I am the father of this beautiful teenager but am completely perplexed as to what I should do next. Do I share this with my family? Do I contact my former fiancee? I so want to do what is right; I just don’t know what to do. -- Confused
DEAR CONFUSED: The first thing you should do is share your theory with your wife (but not your children). This is a situation that has an impact on your whole family; she deserves to know. Ask for her support. You should also see a lawyer to explore the legal issues. If the teenager is your daughter, what are the legal implications for all of you? If your former fiancee categorically denies you are the child’s father, what are your options?
Try to prepare yourself for a wide range of issues and possible reactions, but remember that so far this is nothing more than conjecture. When you feel ready, you should approach your former fiancee in an attitude of openness.
DEAR AMY: I have been in a relationship for almost a year. My past relationships were not all that healthy. They were full of lies and control, which has shaped my trust and faith in relationships in ways that are not healthy.
Though my partner is caring and loving, I can’t help but be negative in my thoughts. I am always expecting the worst. I think and fear that he is being unfaithful or is losing interest.
So far I have kept my thoughts hidden, but I am slowly acting on these feelings by being irrational and quiet.
I try to dismiss these thoughts, but they are slowly making me depressed. I am missing out on an amazing man, and I can’t help it.
I have been thinking recently about getting some counseling, maybe even talking to him about my insecurities, but I’d appreciate your help. -- Worried
DEAR WORRIED: Here is a truism: We create our own realities. Your insecurities are rising up, and if you’re not careful they, and not you, will be running your show. You are already pulling back from your relationship.
Do not make your current partner pay for the crimes and misdemeanors of your previous ones. One wonderful thing about being in a loving, healthy relationship is that you get to embark on the world as a new and improved version of yourself, hand in hand with someone else.
Therapy could definitely help you understand your own motivations and choices. Understanding yourself is the key to behaving differently.
DEAR AMY: Here is a response to “Hollering Back” and others who don’t listen to their voice mail.
I work at a school and have to call parents and leave messages. In the grown-up world, people convey information through messages. I leave the whole message, and later a parent will call and say, “Somebody called me from this number.” This is confusing when the school receptionist has no idea who left the message or why. I’m sure other businesses have this problem too. I can’t believe how lazy people are, that they can’t push a button and listen to a message! -- Vickie in Alaska
DEAR VICKIE: I have been shocked by how many people report never listening to voice mail and can imagine how frustrating this is for you.