Dear Sydney, my stepmom keeps hitting on me! She's been in my life since I was eight, and now, 20-plus years later, I find her embracing a little longer, with a little more "hips," and, well, those goodbye/hello smooches keep getting longer in duration. What was once thought of as cute and affectionate has quickly turned into uncomfortable and strangely satisfying. Right now I'm not sure which is the bigger problem: the obvious implications of a parent coming on to her kids--or even her kids' friends, come to think of it--or the fact that I've caught myself with flashes of her when engaging in sexual-type acts. It really grosses me out. Not in a million years would I actually do something with her, but I wonder why, why is it actually taking a hold in my life? Do you think it might be due to my tenuous relationship with my dad, and is in some way a silent rebellion? Please help.--Family Man
Dear FM: There are certain lines that should never be crossed, and this is one of them. Your stepmother is behaving inappropriately, and it's just too unfortunate that you have to be the victim of her misbehavior. I suggest you keep your distance. We all have our issues, and parents and step-parents are no exception. But coming on to your step-kid is only "fun" in the movies. In real life, it's sick. While direct confrontation may not be the path you want to take with this, I would definitely make sure you avoid the lingering hugs at all costs. She may mean nothing by it, but regardless, she should be more sensitive to your boundaries.
As for those latent nasty desires, don't worry about them. Fantasies are supposed to be twisted; that's why they're fantasies, so you don't actually have to experience them. Give yourself a break. Sometimes the mind has a strange sense of humor. You know you don't want to screw your own stepmother. Your relationship with your father may have something to do with it, but then again, probably not. Desire can be completely ludicrous, and for no apparent reason other then boredom. No doubt your stepmother is suffering from a version of this herself.
Dear Sydney, I need help with my girlfriend. We have plenty of big issues, of course, but I really need advice with one of the smaller ones. When she gets undressed (and I'll start this by saying that I think she is super-hot), she always takes off her pants first and then her shirt. So for a few seconds, she is standing there, "Fanny No Pants," with her top half totally covered. I can't say for certain why this bothers me, but it really does. I find it dirty in an unattractive way. I've talked to her about it, but she insists that she doesn't want her "cupcakes" to get cold. She's a nifty lady, and I don't want to come off as an obsessive prude--but I have to close my eyes every time she gets undressed. What can I do?--Fluff Shy
Dear Fluff: Do you have any idea how many lonely people there are out there who would give their left nipple to have a super-hot girl take her pants off in front of them, shirt or no shirt? Life is not a striptease, I'm sorry to say, and most of us, once we become comfortable in a relationship, and sometimes way before that, display eccentric and or practical methods for undressing. You can tell her how you feel, but chances are she's going to ignore you. Unless the conditions are completely nonhostile and warm, she's going to be quicker to whip off her pants then she will be to whip off her shirt. Cold tits may look nice, but they're kind of a bummer, and cold shoulders can send a positive chill to the bone. Just be happy she's taking her clothes off at all, and try not to close your eyes at the sight of the woman you love wearing nothing but a sweater. It's February; give the girl a break. If she keeps it up well into July, then she's probably self-conscious. If this is the case, then heap on an inordinate supply of compliments and tender administrations, and see if you can get her shirt off in more creative ways. Or buy a space heater. The Presto HeatDish is my personal favorite.
Dear Sydney, I came home one day last week, and the kitchen was mostly clean, except I noticed that one dirty glass was in the sink. It was my dirty glass. The thing is, though, my boyfriend was the last one to leave the house, and he did all of his dishes, but he left my glass unwashed. This really irked me. Our schedules were not in alignment for the next few days, so I didn't have a chance to tell him about it. When I finally did, he got very defensive and said that it was "baffling" to him that I would still be thinking about a dirty dish from three days ago, and that I would "lecture" him about it for four minutes. I believe communication is important, especially if you are living together. Do you think I was being unreasonable?--Kitchen Witch
Dear Unrinsed: A rising irritation at the sight of your unwashed glass left standing in the sink could happen to anyone. But consider the possibility that he might not have left your glass in the sink on purpose. Maybe he quit cleaning up before he was done with the job. Some people do that, and though this is a generally frowned-upon behavior, it is not as bad as leaving your glass there out of some form of vindictiveness. If he did leave your glass there intentionally, you could feel hurt, but better to discard the hurt and just be puzzled by it. You don't know what he was thinking in the moment. It was just one moment. It was just one glass. Give him the chance to fuck up every once and a while, to have a bad thought. If it becomes chronic and he never washes your dishes or begins leaving your laundry sitting in the basket while he washes only his own, then ask him what's going on. He must have some rationale for his behavior and once you know what it is, it will be easier to deal with the issue and actually resolve it. You don't just leave your lover's glass sitting there, alone in the sink, for no reason. Find out the reason, and the answer will follow. Though direct confrontation has its benefits, sometimes you can save yourself needless hard feelings by understanding that some things are better left noted and observed rather than accosted.
No question too big, too small or too off-the-wall.