Dear Abby: After 40 years, ex-wife still can’t let go of man she left

Dear Abby: After 19 years of marriage, my mother divorced my father to be with my stepfather. They have been together for 40 years now. The problem is, Mom can’t go more than three days without talking about my father or his family. It’s like my step-siblings grew up with a “ghost” step-dad because of the constant stories.

I have tried dropping subtle hints to my mother, such as, “That was 48 years ago. Why are you still holding onto that?” Nothing stops her. She even talks about him to people she’s just met. How can I get her to let go of the man SHE left, and understand that this must be an ongoing jab to her current husband’s self-esteem? – Embarrassed For My Stepdad

Dear Embarrassed: That your mother feels compelled to do this even with strangers is peculiar, but neither you nor I can change her behavior. Unless you know for a fact that your stepfather has asked her not to do it, do not be embarrassed for him. His self-esteem may be strong enough that what she’s saying doesn’t bother him. Frankly, what she’s doing is far more a reflection on her than upon him.

Dear Abby: I am a 45-year-old man. When I was in high school, I couldn’t get a date. I’m not unattractive, and I wasn’t even back then. But I was somewhat of a social outcast.

In recent years I have reconnected with several people I went to school with, and returned to my hometown for a short visit to show my kids where I grew up. Abby, I was overwhelmed with attention from women who wouldn’t give me the time of day 25 years ago. I admit I like the change, but I’m uncomfortable that there has been such a dramatic shift in their view of me.

I’m not rich. I have a stable job, but haven’t done much with my life other than leave the small rural town I was raised in. Now I am constantly contacted by women who used to never look in my direction, asking me if it’s possible to become romantically involved.

Is this a case of the one that got away? Or is it a case of the grass is greener somewhere else, and I found a way to jump the fence? – Confounded in Alabama

Dear Confounded: Perhaps neither. As people mature, their values usually mature along with them. Or, like fine wine, you may have improved with age.