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Ask Lisi: Response to letter-writer sent wrong message

To those who felt I had wrongly judged letter writers — and to the letter writers themselves — I apologize. I do not judge. I only try to help people who ask me for advice.
Lisi Tesher, for Ask Ellie column

Dear Readers — It has come to my attention that a response I gave came across in a manner unintended and I’d like to express my apologies for inadvertently sending the wrong message.

On Nov. 15, a woman wrote in concerned about her strong “need” for sex. So strong was her sexual appetite that even though she had a healthy sex life with her husband, she would also have sex with complete strangers. She worried that something was “wrong” with her. She also worried about bringing home a disease, and/or her children ever finding out.

My response to her was that there was nothing wrong with her, but she might just want to get a health checkup. To eliminate her worries, I suggested ways in which she could enhance her own marital sex life, so she didn’t have to look elsewhere for sexual satisfaction.

Several weeks later (Jan. 3), a woman who had once been cheated on, wrote in with a different, harsher view. Clearly her view was tainted by her traumatic experience. She expressed the view that there was indeed something wrong with the original letter writer. I didn’t agree with her, but I tried to understand why this woman felt the way she did.

On Feb. 27, I included another reader’s take on the situation. This man focused on the fact that the original letter-writer had said that her husband didn’t care that she had sex with others. (NOTE – the Jan. 3 commenter said she didn’t believe the husband didn’t care.) And that if he didn’t care, then it wasn’t cheating.

He then continued with his own personal story of his sexually open marriage (I don’t want to mislabel), which I found interesting. That’s why I shared it with my readers. I responded with “What you do is your business, but if you’re married and having sex with someone else, you are cheating — whether your spouse knows and/or cares.” And it came across inaccurately.

What I should have said directly to that man was “What you do is your business as long as you, or anybody else, aren’t getting hurt.” And then I should have clarified that, with regards to the original letter, in a monogamous relationship, cheating is defined by “when a person has an emotional or sexual relationship with someone else.” Without any comment otherwise, yes, I assumed that the original letter writer was in a traditional monogamous relationship with her husband.

But in no way do I judge what other people do to make themselves and/or their partners happy, with the clarification that it is legal, above board, and no one is getting hurt. So again, to those who felt that I had wrongly judged ANY of my letter writers — and to the letter writers themselves — I apologize. I do not judge. I only try to help people who ask me for advice.

Live and let live.

FEEDBACK Regarding the young couple and the family vacation (March 6):

Reader 1 — “The issue isn’t between her and her boyfriend’s parents, but rather between him and his parents. What led him to assume that his girlfriend would be invited?

“Is this a bigger issue, meaning, do his parents not accept her as his girlfriend? And if not, why not? And further to that, does he still want to go on vacation with his parents knowing they don’t like his girlfriend? What will happen if these two decide to get married? Will his parents not attend the wedding?

“However, if the invitation wasn’t extended due to financial reasons, then I agree the couple should offer to pay – if they want to - and go together as one big happy family.”

Reader 2 — “If the parents were financially strapped then they should have said so but welcomed her anyway if the couple could afford it. If it was some other reason, then they should have been up front and discussed it.

“This exclusion by stealth is exactly what so many in my LGBT community have endured for years. It leaves lasting scars on the relationship that are difficult to heal. The young man has made it clear she’s the most important person in his life. To allow the parents to exclude her from what is obviously an important event, is to ignore the elephant in the room: They don’t respect their son, his choices, or his partner. It’s a pattern of behaviour that will continue if not confronted and dealt with. No one should be treated like this.”

Lisi — I don’t agree. I think you’re projecting as you said this happened to you. This has nothing to do with sexual orientation.

Lisi Tesher is an advice columnist based in Toronto. Send your questions to [email protected]