Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: Almost two years ago, I fell hard for a man who at the time was my professor (he's seven years older than I). I managed to stuff down my feelings and carry on to have a mutually beneficial professional relationship with him. A number of months after graduating, I had the opportunity to visit with him. After staying up late, talking and drinking, I found myself spilling what had been a long and well-kept secret. I explained that I understood his position in life, and that I knew he had a wonderful partner, and that I expected no action in return on his part. I thought confessing was the right thing to do. I was shocked when he said that the feeling was mutual. What followed was a stunned conversation about how impossible and sad this situation was. We live in different cities, and he has a partner. I started stress-drinking and he advanced for a kiss, and I didn't have the presence of mind (or desire) to refuse. A twist of fate has occurred, whereby I have since begun to have a friendship with his partner. She and I will move to the same city in the fall for a school program. She has even proposed that we share housing. My instinct would be to avoid closeness with her, but she's an amazing person and I can imagine becoming a close friend. Now my moral compass is spinning. Do the kiss and other brief signs of affection constitute some sort of pre-friendship betrayal? Or can I move forward without guilt and become roommates with her because I've done what I can to behave with integrity? Do I owe her a conversation, or would that do more harm than good?

-- Your Admiring Reader

DEAR READER: You don't say what your field of study is, but I'm assuming you are in a theater program. You seem to have a flair for the dramatic.

Something happened, you and he both decided not to take it further, and now the case is closed. Is this really a compass-spinning moment? Your situation is actually quite common: Two people share a regretful make-out session and eventually all parties simply move on and alter the dance so that everyone can enjoy a friendship.

Do not tell this man's partner about your confession/kiss. If you haven't moved on from this infatuation, then you should not room with the partner. If you have moved on from the infatuation, then behave now with integrity. No more secret confessions, no more drunken kisses, and no more drama.

DEAR AMY: Our niece, "Cynthia," is having a quickie wedding and although we are on cordial grounds, she has said and done some things in the recent past that have left a sour taste in our mouths. The wedding invitation arrived addressed to "(my daughter's name) and family." As her aunt and the one who writes the gift check, am I wrong to be offended -- or is this just tacky?

-- Offended AuntDEAR AUNT: You obviously think your niece is perennially inappropriate, and so you should look on this as "Cynthia being Cynthia." You get to choose whether to be offended by an actual (or a perceived) slight. If it makes you feel better to judge, steam and stew in your juice about the way this envelope is addressed, then definitely keep at it.

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However, if you want to feel better, then you should act better: Accept your niece's limitations now -- and in the future when she says or does something that leaves a bad taste in your mouth -- "spit it out" and talk to her about it.

DEAR AMY: I'm responding to "Unwilling to Forgive," who was upset about how an in-law treated his parents. I have lived long enough to understand that, while forgiveness is indeed a kind and generous thing to do, it is also a very selfish thing to do because you, the offended, are the benefactor of your forgiveness. The offender may never know that you have forgiven, but in the place where the anger and bitterness once lived there is now peace, satisfaction and contentment in your heart.

-- Ann

DEAR ANN: Eloquently stated. Thank you.