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Awkwardness should pass soon

Dear Abby: I'm a 25-year-old guy with a unique problem. My father has been dating a woman since I was 16 who has a daughter my age named "Emma." Over the years Emma and I became good friends -- then more than that. We hooked up a few times. About a year ago, I told her I had developed feelings for her, which drove her off pretty fast. We haven't talked since. She now lives in another state with her boyfriend, and I'm happy for her.

With the holidays here, Dad expects me to go to all of the events and get-togethers. I made up excuses last year to avoid them, but don't think I can do that again. I want to escape the awkward interaction with Emma and her boyfriend because I still have feelings for her. I don't want to disappoint Dad, but I don't know how to handle this. Help, please.

-- Running From the Holidays

Dear Running: You don't have to attend "all" the events and get-togethers, but you should attend a few. When you do, consider bringing a friend with you and minimizing the contact you have with Emma and her boyfriend. Observe the social amenities, keep the conversation brief and casual, and concentrate on the rest of the family.

While the initial contact may be painful, this is no different than any other romance that didn't work out. The awkwardness will pass if you concentrate on something else.

> Mouth shut, eyes open

Dear Abby: My 22-year-old son told me he had a fight with his girlfriend. Am I allowed to ask him what it was about, or if they have resolved the problem?

-- Curious Mom in Montana

Dear Curious Mom: When your son mentioned the spat, that would have been the logical time to ask what it was about. If you start probing now -- after the fact -- it could be construed as nosiness. If he's still seeing the girlfriend, it's safe to assume the problem was resolved -- so keep your mouth shut, your eyes open and let him solve his relationship issues without involving yourself in them.

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