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Annie's Mailbox

Ask Amy column

Q. I’m only 17, and I don’t know how, but I fell in love with a guy when I was 16. He was the only person I have ever truly loved, and we were together for 1 year and 10 months. We are no longer together, and I think it’s because I didn’t want to have sex with him.

What am I to do? I still love him, but he has another girlfriend, and it hurts to see that she makes him happy and that he doesn’t miss me the way I miss him. His mother is also harassing me, and she says things to me that a grown woman shouldn’t say to a 17-year-old. I want to move on and find someone who will love me no matter what, but my heart won’t let me.

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A. I wish I could wave my magic Amy wand and make all of this immediately better, but I can’t. So I’m going to offer you a visual cue that you should return to when you’re feeling low. I want you to find the biggest and most old-fashioned clock you can find. Look at its beautiful face, and tell yourself, “Time will heal me.”

In addition to letting time do its magic, here are some concrete things you can do: Stay away from people who put you down. Substitute the search for love with the search for friendship. The affection and fellowship of a true friend will make you feel beautiful, smart, and strong.

Your sweetness, strength, and values will draw toward you people who appreciate these qualities. Somewhere in the crush of people who will be drawn to you is the one you will love next. And he will love you back.

Q. You are right to suggest that “Concerned,” whose son cries when she leaves him at school, might be helping to create the situation. Years ago, I used to baby-sit regularly for a friend. She had a 5-year-old and a 9-month-old baby. The younger child cried every time she got ready to leave, and she made it worse by hanging around and acting upset instead of just leaving.

Then one day when I came in and started playing with him right away, he didn’t notice when she left. You should have seen her face! It was clear that the separation was much more traumatic for her than for him. Concerned should realize that her son probably stops crying fairly soon after she leaves, when he gets involved in doing something.

A. Thank you for your insight. I was guilty of creating a similar dynamic when dropping off my daughter at school. When I stopped being overly concerned, she stopped being so upset. It’s “parent-math.” The parent instills confidence in the child by faking confidence herself.

Q. I just read the letter from “Confused Neighbor,” the gay man who had a wonderful relationship with an older couple until they displayed a sign in their yard indicating they were voting for a candidate who was not in favor of gay rights.

I have a gay son, and the thought of his facing discrimination breaks my heart. However, the beauty of this country is that individuals can vote for the candidate they feel is the best person for the job. Maybe that candidate feels strongly about their needs as an older couple? Medicare, taxes, pensions, etc. It is not just about that young man’s needs.

A. In this exciting election season, I wish we would all pause for a moment to celebrate our freedom to engage in noisy and messy discourse, and to exercise our right to express our wishes in the privacy of the voting booth.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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