Dear Abby: I’m having feelings for younger cousin and need to stop

Divorced man, 57, has guilt about what he’s thinking about his 30-year-old relative.

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DEAR ABBY: I am a 57-year-old male. I have no children, and I was forced to move back in with my mother to start my life over again. I divorced my wife because she was cheating.

I have a cousin from Alabama who is 30. I love her dearly. She’s my favorite cousin, and I have begun having feelings for her. I think it may be my body’s way of telling me it wants to procreate and leave a legacy. I feel guilty about these thoughts and feelings. In my heart, I believe they are shameful. These thoughts are something I must take to my grave and never act upon. But the urge is growing stronger and it’s becoming a losing battle.

Telling her (or anyone else in my family) my true feelings would be a terrible thing for me to do. Can you please help me rid myself of these feelings for her? I will take any advice into consideration. — ASHAMED IN TENNESSEE

DEAR ASHAMED: In some (not all) states, marriage between cousins is legal. Tennessee and Alabama happen to be two of them. Your cousin may be 27 years younger, but at 30, she’s a grown woman. Do you have any indication of whether your feelings are reciprocated? Sometimes the feelings we suppress only make them grow stronger. A way to resolve this would be to express them.

If your cousin doesn’t share your affection, bear in mind that all women are not cheaters, as your wife was, and start to build a new life while you look for a suitable companion in your community.

DEAR ABBY: I married a recovering addict, and for years he did great. We made a lovely home and family together. Then one of my husband’s drug buddies (a woman) resurfaced. My husband had an affair, went down that nasty road again and did some very cruel things to destroy our marriage. We have been married 19 years and separated for the last three, with a divorce pending.

My husband now wants to make amends. He’s in a rehab program, but I’m reluctant. We have been on a few dates, and I have real concerns about what will happen when we run into the other woman. I asked her at least six times to go away and stay away.

How should I expect him to react when we run into her? She’s deeply embedded in his social circle, far more than I ever was because I don’t care for the debauchery lifestyle. He promises he has cut ties with everyone in that circle. But I know it’s only a matter of time until we run into her. — ANGRY AND HURT IN GEORGIA

DEAR ANGRY: You are rightfully hurt and angry, but if reconciling is going to work out well, it’s important you’re assured that he isn’t still carrying a torch for her. You would be wise (and less confrontational) if you ask your almost-ex-husband how he plans to react should he encounter her, rather than dictate how he should do it. He’s in rehab and trying to rebuild his life after the mess he made of it. I see no reason to create a scene if your paths cross. A courteous hello AND GOODBYE should suffice.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

To order “How to Write Letters for All Occasions,” send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby — Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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