Dear Annie: My 41-year-old fiance, "Michael," recently started a new job that requires some overnight travel. Last week while out of town, a 21-year-old female co-worker asked Michael's help to put air in her tires. He got in her car and they drove together to a gas station. This week, while out of town again, he and the same co-worker texted and phoned each other a few times, which I found disturbing.
When I confronted him, he became defensive and said he did nothing wrong. I explained it was inappropriate to be riding in a female co-worker's car and for the two of them to call each other. Even if it was completely innocent, there is always the possibility of an accusation of sexual harassment or that other co-workers will think negatively of him.
There are several male co-workers Michael could associate with, so I don't get why he has chosen to bond with this young girl. And what bothers me more is that he doesn't see how inappropriate it is. He says I have blown it out of all proportion and there is nothing further to discuss.
Is this just my insecurity surfacing, or do I have a legitimate concern?
- Worried in Virginia
Dear Virginia: Both. The fact that a female co-worker asked a male co-worker to help her fix a tire is perfectly understandable, and it's not a stretch that he would accompany her to the gas station in her car. You are right that these things can be misinterpreted and that Michael puts his job at risk if he continues to behave in a way that others believe is questionable. However, we aren't convinced anything untoward has been going on. The "evidence" of misconduct is pretty flimsy. Say nothing more, but keep an eye on the situation if it bothers you.
Dear Annie: I just lost my son to alcoholism. He was 55 years old and for five years had been progressively drinking himself to death. We were totally unaware. His multitude of friends and business associates knew he had an alcohol problem but didn't realize the gravity of the situation and didn't think to notify me, his father.
My son was divorced, had no children and lived alone. I've since been told that I couldn't have done much unless he was willing to admit he was an alcoholic and wanted to quit. I'm a well-educated person but didn't know the true symptoms of alcoholism. My son is dead, gone from my life, because I didn't know how alcoholics act and think. My friends tell me not to blame myself. But who else is there?
Dear California: There is no blame to be had. Your son had a disease for which there is no cure, only management, but he either didn't recognize the problem, or didn't have the wherewithal to stay sober. Even if you knew everything about alcoholism, you could not have prevented this from happening. Self-recrimination can be part of the grieving process. Please get some short-term counseling so you can come to terms with this. Our condolences.
Dear Annie: I had to respond to "Just Wondering for Future Reference," who asked if menopausal women can still have a satisfying sex life.
As a woman in her mid-50s who had not been in a relationship for more than eight years, I had pretty much given up on meeting a man who piqued my interest. I asked my doctor about my lack of sex drive, which had never been a problem before. Her response was, "When you meet the right guy, it will happen." I met a guy five months ago, and my sex life has never been better. In fact, he complains that I wear him out and he's 15 years younger.
- Having Fun at 50-Plus
Dear Having Fun: We're glad you found someone who helped you rediscover your libido. It doesn't work for everyone, but you've given hope to the rest.