Dear Abby: Lost tooth leads to surprise attraction to dental student

Dear Abby: A year ago, I lost a tooth. I’m a 56-year-old woman on disability, short on funds to rectify the problem, so I visited my local hospital’s dental clinic. I hadn’t visited a dentist in years, so I was quite fearful.

The clinic allows a dental resident to work on your issue under the supervision of a practiced dentist. The work I needed was performed every two weeks for about four months. What I did not count on was becoming seriously attracted to a 29-year-old resident I’ll call “Justin.”

At first, I couldn’t believe it was possible, given the fact that I’m old enough to be his mother and my ex-husband is a doctor. I was a teacher and I know all the “rules.” In fairness, in NO WAY did Justin or I do or say anything inappropriate. Still, certain circumstances led me to believe that he felt the same about me. Neither of us acted on this.

My question: The work has been over for months, but some days the memories are so intense, I can’t get him out of my mind. I don’t know how to handle this. Please help. – Unexpected in New York

Dear Unexpected: The “rules” you referred to are a code of ethics that professionals are expected to adhere to. The way to handle your feelings would be to consider that if Justin were to act on the feelings you think he shared with you, he could lose his job, and the future he has worked so hard to build would be destroyed. If you care about him at all beyond your attraction, you will not pursue this further.

Dear Abby: Why is it that when adults are trying to get to know my children, the first thing they want to know is who they have a crush on? Not only is that an extremely personal question, it’s also the least significant part of their lives and not something I want them to dwell on.

Ask instead what their favorite subject is, if they read a book recently they enjoyed, what kinds of activities they participate in or clubs they belong to. Please stop telling them that “surely some cute little kid” must have caught their eye. – Wise One in Virginia

Dear Wise One: I agree. Young children may “like” someone, but may find it embarrassing to talk about. Another question, in addition to the ones you have suggested, might be, “Who are your friends, and what do you like doing with them?”