Q. When I was 33, I discovered that the father who raised me is not my biological dad.
I found my biological dad, “Daniel,” and started an infrequent correspondence. He gave me a biography of his life, but showed no interest in my life or in answering questions I had regarding his relationship with my mom.
He was not interested in meeting, and I ceased contact.
Fast forward 15 years. With the advent of Facebook I found my entire biological family: Daniel, his wife, his other children, their spouses and kids.
I reached out to him again. He seemed genuinely happy to hear from me until he realized how much information I had gathered about his family on
Facebook, specifically that his daughter is only four months younger than me. Awkward, right? Turns out he had two women pregnant at the same time.
He told me from the beginning that his wife and children know about me but I am not convinced. He threatened me with legal action should I contact his grown children (he has no legal grounds).
Should I contact my half siblings in the hope that we could cultivate a friendship, or should I assume that they do know the truth and are not interested in a relationship with me? If I do contact them, what would be the best manner — by letter, e-mail or phone?
A. You should not assume your half siblings know about you. Contacting them could be very upsetting and challenging for all of them — and for you.
You should keep your expectations extremely realistic. You will be lobbing a grenade into their lives and they will need (and deserve) time to react and adjust. If your father continues to be hostile toward you, your siblings will likely follow suit.
E-mail gives you confirmation that they have opened your communication, and gives them time to read, reread and react on their own terms.
Q. My wife of 15 years and I split amicably nine years ago when she embarked on a new career with an all-consuming passion that displaced our marriage.
I am now in a relationship with a woman. Upon hearing of my new relationship, my ex made some critical comments about her. To demonstrate my commitment to my new love, I have not spoken to my ex for two years, and she has not apologized.
I do miss talking to her occasionally and sharing memories of our years together. Maintaining zero contact forever seems a bit much. Is it wrong to ask my girlfriend to accept some occasional contact or am I wanting to have my cake and eat it too?
A. If you want to call a truce on your silent war, you don’t need to run this past your girlfriend; you just convey to your ex, “I think I overreacted a couple of years ago and feel bad about that.” However, if you want to revive an active friendship with your ex and your girlfriend wants to veto this, are you willing to accept it? And if you are in a serious, exclusive relationship, why would you want to maintain a friendship with someone who disrespects her?
I think it’s great to be fond of (and on good terms with) your ex. But this is by definition a challenging relationship for your current partner to accept, so don’t be surprised if she isn’t eager to see you have a second helping of cake.