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ANNIE’S MAILBOX

Would it help to reveal an affair?

Q. I have loved a gay man all my life, and I am now 64, so I know a little something about the problem.

I work in an office where a 35-year-old man is dating a female co-worker who is 50. I believe they both care for each other, but he is concealing his sexual orientation. I know he has a boyfriend in another city.

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I have not mentioned this to anyone not only because it could hurt his position in our conservative company, but also because it’s not my business. However, I’ve begun to wonder whether I ought to say something to his girlfriend. She is going through hell. He’s nice to her and takes her out to lunch often, and she reports their doings with stars in her eyes. Then they will fight, and she avoids him while he waits to get back in her good graces.

She doesn’t understand what’s going on, and she’s miserable. I don’t think he’s going to tell her the truth, and at this point, she would be furious if she knew he has been leading her on. Should I butt in to save her? I still have to work with both of them. — NO NAME, NO CITY

A. We strongly urge you to stay out of this. Your female co-worker realizes she is miserable in this relationship, but is still unwilling to break it off. Unless there is physical abuse, relationship issues between co-workers are not your business. It’s very likely that your comments would be resented, and this could damage your work environment.

Q. I am a psychologist with a heartfelt piece of advice for those whose teenage children are struggling with addictions or other issues, and who aren’t facing the situation squarely.

Many parents hope their teen will “grow out of it.’’ The problem is, most don’t. When the child is under age 18, parents still have lots of power. They can sign their child into a treatment center and communicate with the doctors. This power is lost once the child reaches 18. Doctors are not allowed to talk with family members of legal adults unless the child signs consent. And an angry young adult who resists treatment is not likely to sign.

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Yes, parents can tell the child that treatment is a condition of financial support, but this can backfire because parents are understandably hesitant to force a mentally ill or addicted child onto the street.

Please, parents, recognize this window of opportunity when you have it. — CONCERNED PSYCHOLOGIST

A. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to recognize the severity of the problem at the time, and some things, like schizophrenia, are not apparent until the child is older. Parents do the best they can, but those who fear their child is slipping away should make sure to seek help while they still have the opportunity.

Q. I agree with your advice to “Left-Out Sister,’’ but why does she wait for her older sister to tell her what the Sunday plans are? Why doesn’t she initiate a chat so they can make plans together? Or she could make her own plans with Dad if she wants. She knows that Sunday comes around every week. There’s no reason for her to always be left hanging. She sounds too passive. P.J.

Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

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