My dad and I share a computer, and I have discovered that he is using an online sex chat service and hiding it from my mom. I am torn between telling my mom what I saw, confronting my dad and keeping quiet because I am dependent on my parents. I recently left my full-time job and my apartment to live with them so that I could return to school full time. I cannot afford to live on my own and do this. I know that if I tell my mother, she will be devastated. Plus, it will cause serious problems in my relationship with my dad because my part-time job is in his office (he is my boss’s boss). I feel that if I keep this secret, I am part of the deception because I believe what he is doing is akin to having an extramarital affair. I know a lot of my hesitation is based in the fear that I will lose a stepparent who has been my dad for 18 years and whom I love immensely.
Is there any hesitation about the loss of your integrity if you pretend to be ignorant of the truth? I hope so; that’s a real risk in this situation. It’s clearly difficult to be caught between your parents, but know this: Keeping silent to keep the dole is self-abandonment. You are tossing your ethics and values aside in hope that you can live in the past (the days before you discovered your dad’s affair).
Your dilemma is what Greek myths are made of. What will you choose: the path of the soul or the ego? As you discern whether to join your father in betraying your mother, don your Freudian cap for a moment. Does keeping the secret from your mother help you feel closer to your father? Be assured that if there is genuine love between you and your father, there can be no true loss. There may be a temporary loss of communication or contact between you as your father comes to terms with feelings of shame or anger. Are you adult enough to accept this? If so, admit to your father what you found while nosing around on his computer. Tell him you are worried he is having an affair and ask him to tell your mom about it by a particular date. Then, be available to talk with her. You also might suggest your parents begin marriage counseling.
I’ve been dating a nice man for a year and a half. We love each other a lot and plan to live together or get married someday. The problem is that he smokes marijuana five times per week (and has for 30 years) and drinks two beers or glasses of wine a day. He knows I won’t live with him if he smokes, yet he hasn’t cut back. I can accept some alcohol use, even though I quit drugs and alcohol years ago. A drug counselor suggested I leave unless he agrees to quit. Friends say to accept him as is, and he’ll eventually cut back. I have tried to leave him several times, but it only lasts a week. He always argues that his drug use is not excessive and does not interfere with his life or health. He says he loves me but does not want to change his drug use. He has limited social involvement. Do we have a future together?
You have a future of frustration together! His drug use clearly affects his life with you. He is addicted to pot, alcohol and leading you on. You’re addicted to him and the happily-ever-after dream you concocted in your imagination when you first began dating. Shake it off, sister! Commit to attending Al-Anon meetings immediately.