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Annie's Mailbox

Ask Amy column

Q. My boyfriend and I are in our mid-50s. We have been living together for seven years.

Two weeks ago he was still logged on to our computer when I went to use it. I looked at his e-mail. He had around 40 e-mails from Match.com. When confronted, he said it was spam and he didn’t open any. It had account information that obviously belonged to him.

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After about a week, I decided to let it go. He has never given me cause to think he was cheating. Last week I noticed his e-mails were deleted, but his browsing history showed he had opened them all and looked at pictures. I left for three days.

I love him very much, but I feel as if he’s cheating. I don’t know what to do.

A. It’s (remotely) possible that your guy is receiving e-mails from a previous account or subscription to Match.com. However, you say you’ve been together for seven years. That information strains this theory because even the most aggressive and “sticky” membership wouldn’t stay active over the course of several years — unless someone encouraged it along.

At the least, your guy is “looking.” So far his behavior shows that he is trying to avoid talking about this while simultaneously covering his tracks and hoping not to get caught. Well, he’s been caught. Now you two need to communicate about it. You should try to get to the truth here because the nuances of this might make a difference in your decision about this relationship.

If you would be open to the idea of your guy even passively looking at women who contact him through this dating site, then you’ll need to tell him so. If you can’t tolerate this, he’ll have a choice to make between Match.com and you.

Q. I am a mother of three boys, ages 5, 3, and 6 months. We recently moved into a new neighborhood. There is a 5-year-old boy, “Peter,” who lives a couple of doors down. As time has gone on, we see behaviors in Peter that make us want to limit our son “Randy’s” time with him. Peter is aggressive and bullies both of our sons while at our house.

We also discovered that while Randy was playing at Peter’s house, his mother was sleeping and their 8-year-old daughter was left “in charge.” We witnessed Peter running around the neighborhood tearing down other people’s Halloween decorations. Almost every time my son plays with Peter, he comes home with his feelings hurt.

Peter’s parents seem like nice people. They want the two boys to be buddies. We are increasingly uncomfortable with this. We know that Peter’s behavior will affect our son’s behavior. How do we handle this? My husband thinks we should not allow them to play together. I know that by rejecting their son, we will cause hurt feelings in our neighbors. What do you think?

A. Both these boys are very young and can change in many ways. Because of their history (so far), you should not send your son to “Peter’s” house, but should invite him over if you and your son want to.

Supervise both boys very closely. Intervene if Peter is destructive or bullying, but give your son opportunities to come up with his own strategies not to be dominated. You’ll have to be honest with these neighbors by saying, “Peter and Randy don’t always play well together so we’re going to take this very slowly to see how it goes.” If it doesn’t go well for your family, then it doesn’t really matter what these other parents want.

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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