Dear Abby: Woman doesn’t know our father is also her father

Siblings have always known their late dad’s affair produced a half-sister but fear telling her now will ruin her life.

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DEAR ABBY: I’m 36 years old and married with three children. I have two siblings I have a good relationship with. The problem is we have a half-sister two years younger than I am who doesn’t know we exist. When my parents were married, my father had an affair with a married woman, and they conceived my half-sister.

My parents ultimately divorced. My father’s mistress went back to her husband, and they remain married to this day. My half-sister was never told who her biological father is or that she has three half-siblings.

I have struggled my entire life with sharing this information with my half-sister because I don’t want to ruin her life. My father passed away 20 years ago, so she will never have a relationship with him. My siblings also haven’t been able to bring themselves to share this information with her, and I remain torn because we are close in age, look alike and have gone into similar fields of work.

I’d love to have a relationship with her. I understand she may not want to have a relationship with us and may have a lot of questions about why we waited so long to tell her. Is sharing the truth worth potentially ruining her life? — LONGING TO SHARE

DEAR LONGING: How do you think your half-sister is going to react after finding out she has been raised with a lie? Is a potential relationship with you worth the damage it may cause between her, her mother and her stepfather? If she were in need of an organ transplant, I might feel differently. Unless the reason is something equally urgent, do not intrude.

DEAR ABBY: I am a proud 42-year-old gay man. I was legally married to a man for four years, but we were together for 12. In 2011, I had to make the decision to remove him from life support after a sudden traumatic illness. I remained single for six years, and then I met who I thought was a wonderful man who was 16 years younger. After the first year, he became controlling and emotionally abusive. When I ended the relationship, I felt so much freedom.

I have met someone my age who reminds me of my late husband, and we have bonded and are forming a relationship. So far, it has only been dating and spending a lot of time together. I’m scared to start something so soon, but it feels right.

When is a good time to move forward? When is a proper time to become intimate? We have both had bad relationships and respect each other’s boundaries at the moment. I will never remarry, as I was entitled to survivor benefits from my late husband, and we both agree there are ways to protect each other and our financial needs other than marriage. Please help. — IN-BETWEEN IN COLORADO

DEAR IN-BETWEEN: It seems to me that you and this new man in your life are doing everything right. You are getting to know each other and taking your time before becoming intimately involved. The proper time to advance to the next stage would be when both of you are comfortable with the idea. Communication is key in every aspect of your relationship, and it appears you are doing that already.

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.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order “How to Have a Lovely Wedding.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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