Dear Margo: A Very Odd Way To Leave a Family

Patching up a family after a disappearing act. Margo Howard’s advice

A Very Odd Way To Leave a Family

Dear Margo: I have just begun an entirely new stage in my life and am feeling caught between the old and the new. First of all, I married very young (at 21), three months into an accidental pregnancy. I stayed with my husband for 16 years while we raised our son, although my husband and I never got along as well as we did prior to our marriage. After we married, there was virtually no romance and very little sex. I dropped out of college to get married, which I regret to this day.

Last winter, I met a man through a friend and became infatuated. I had an affair with him for four months before I found out I was pregnant again. He wouldn’t hear of ending the pregnancy. I didn’t know what else to do, so I left my husband and bought an apartment with this man in another state. I did not tell my husband or my son that I was leaving and have not spoken to either of them since.

Last week, my son called me. I ignored that call and the next eight (he doesn’t give up easily), as I was unsure how to handle the situation. And that’s why I’m writing. My son and I have always gotten along pretty well, though he tends to be a little unstable at times and is rather anxious. Should I let my son back into my life, or is he better off not knowing what happened? — Starting Again

Dear Start: Outside of an abusive situation, I have never heard of a woman just disappearing, with her husband and teenage son having no idea where she is or why she left. I think they are entitled to know you have walked out for good, are not coming back and are not in harm’s way. I assume your son has your cell number, which you apparently didn’t change, and I wonder why your husband has not phoned you at all.

I not only think a divorce is in order, but a reconnection with your son is a must. If you find him “a little unstable” and anxious now, imagine the scenario if he never gets any answers. Your “solution” to your troubles strikes me as irresponsible and selfish. No child could be “better off” not knowing why his mother left him. I suggest you answer the phone — or better yet, call him. — Margo, depressingly

Way Too Young To Give Up

Dear Margo: I’m writing to you because there is no one I can objectively talk to. I’m a 51-year-old gay male, and I’ve never successfully dated or been in a relationship. To make a long story short, I once heard that a man in his early 50s in the gay world might as well be 80, and evidence seems to bear that out. I’m lucky that I have friends and this city has a large gay population. I wonder whether I would be wasting my time trying to date anymore. It does seem very late in life to be doing that. — Probably Done in Denver

Dear Prob: If this letter had come from a 51-year-old straight female, I would say the same thing: One is never too old to meet a romantic partner. I am somewhat curious as to why, when you were younger, there were no “successful dates,” so you might want to review that situation and take an honest self-inventory. As with both men and women, gay and straight, not every middle-aged single is looking for a cupcake (my designation for someone younger and hot looking). Just put yourself out there with activities and affinity groups, and be an interested listener. Forget what you “once heard,” and decide your quest is not Mt. Everest. It is merely to find a comfortable companion. — Margo, optimistically

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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


Every Thursday and Friday, you can find “Dear Margo” and her latest words of wisdom on wowOwow

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64 comments so far.

  1. avatar Frau Quink says:

    Ltr. 1: Is this for real? You should beg your son on your knees to forgive you.

  2. avatar Randy Portwood says:

    LW #2: I am a gay white male who has been in three relationships, two of them long-term. I have no idea where LW #2 is getting his information from when he states a gay male in his 50s may as well be in his 80s. I have found that I merely attract an entirely different age group of men, that’s all. (Men in their 30s to 60s.)

    My third relationship was with a man who was emotionally and verbally abusive, and when that relationship ended in 2000, I didn’t think I could trust someone again, nor did I think I could trust my own judgment when it came to selecting a partner. But that all changed in October of last year when I met my current partner. At the age of 53, I am in my fourth relationship with a man who is loving and honest, and who makes me feel cherished. So, if I can meet someone wonderful at the age of 53, I know LW #2 can meet someone wonderful at the age of 51! Get yourself out there!

  3. avatar BeanCounter says:

    My speculation on the gay guy?   HE is the one looking for a cupcake, or the perfect guy he’s attracted to.   Not the other way around.   People that are picky will always blame other people’s perception of him, instead of his affinity for a “10 out of 10″…just sayin’….

  4. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    Letter #1 – Of all the letters of the last couple of years I have read from Margo, this letter takes the cake!

    This letter writer is such a horrible, horrible person I am stunned by the ignorance she confesses to.  If I were giving you advice I would say DO NOT respond to your son. As Margo and many others that post on this site often say, sometimes our friends and associates are more like family than our own blood relatives.  You didn’t care whether he and your ex didn’t know if you were alive or dead before, so why suddenly care? You are still a horrible person, the deed was done. The moment you snuck out of their lives under the cloak of darkness, you showed your true colors. In this instance I can only pray that his father and his friends can fill the void of a selfish, irresponsible, adulteress, flake that is masquerading as a mother.

    You sicken me!

    Letter #2 – I am always confounded by people over the age of 50 that lament about not being able to find love. Men over 50 say it. Women over 50 say it. Gays and Lesbians over 50 say it. If we are all looking for love, wouldn’t it stand to reason we would find it? 

    This letter writer needs to decide to put himself out there. Not just physically, but emotionally….be open to meeting a man for a relationship. I happen to believe we pass people everyday that could be our soul mates, but because they aren’t the right height, weight, race, age…..we look beyond them. The best advice I would give this man is be aware of your surroundings and really look at people that come into your space.          

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      “Men over 50 say it. Women over 50 say it. Gays and Lesbians over 50 say it.”


      Gays and Lesbians are Men and Women too

  5. avatar hillidaa says:

    I, too, think LW1 is fake, but for a different reason. Imagine it had been written by a man instead, whose wife/girlfriend were pregnant. Then, it seems more likely (sadly enough) to have completely ditched his family. How many times have you heard of Dad walking out the door and never coming back?

    I wonder if this is an attempt to test the response to a woman trying the same thing…

    • avatar blueelm says:

      Not a bad thought, but after 16 years?

      This lady behaved like people expect a lot of men do, it’s true. Not that many men actually behave this way though. It’s pretty unfortunate and there’s probably something wrong with the ones who do. I don’t really think it’s normal for anyone. Just the negative stereotype for men makes people more likely to blow it off and more likely for men to think of it as normal even if they wouldn’t be that way themselves.

  6. avatar J. Smith says:

    LW1 may have a form of mild mental retardation. The red flag for me is her statement “He wouldn’t hear of ending the pregnancy. I didn’t know what else to do, so I left my husband …..”

    I know someone who was born with some mild brain damage, and her responses are a lot like this woman’s. She eventually became estranged from both her children. It’s sad, because this condition is not something she can control. But it’s very difficult for those of us who have to deal with her. Alternative paths of action do not exist for this woman. Her brain is capable of seeing only one option at a time.

    I feel sorry for LW1’s son. Even if she phones him, the prognosis for them having an even halfway-decent future relationship ranges from dim to non-existent.

  7. avatar Lym BO says:

    Actually, my grandmother did exactly this in the early 60s. Her husband had a chronic disease & was 6 years older. (I know nothing about their relationship). She had an affair with a guy at work, became pregnant & they took off to another state. She was 46 so guessing she thought she couldn’t get pregnant. She wasn’t heard from for a year then appeared back on the scene for a visit with a baby. My grandpa was devastated & actually lost his will to live & died a few years later (in his 50s). My dad was hurt deeply. He was newly married & had just finished college. His sister was also newly married & had a baby on the way when she took off. When I first met her at age 6 she introduced us as the Smiths from another state, not her family. I guess she didn’t want anyone to know her grandchildren were close to the same age as her child. (ANd that she was old enough to have kids in their 30s) My dad went into her store & asked one of her close friends of 10 years “Where’s my mom?” . The friend was confused bc he had no idea she had a son. Things seem to get better over the years. My dad & his sister visit her at least once a year (she still lives far away). My uncle (the love baby) was murdered a few years ago related to drugs. At that time, my dad & his sister learned she had planned to leave everything to this son. (another blow as their relationship had mended tremendously over the years) She has now changed her will & is leaving everything (which isn’t much) to her very successful children. She is now in her 90s.. The strangest thing is the family acts like it never happened. It simply isn’t brought up. I did learn from another cousin their work place was quite the “swinging”, happening place in the 60s.I have half a mind to ask her more about it all, but am not that close…
    Point is .. it does happen. As far as I know she has never apologized for leaving her children wondering where she was for over a year. Her second stallion hub & she divorced about 16 years later. He had left young children behind (900 miles away). The one child moved down to be with him as a young adult & remains close to him. It sure is odd. We are upper middle class.

  8. avatar blueelm says:

    I’m just really interested in the psychopathology of LW1. There’s clearly a disorder there somewhere. The combination of complete selfishness, lack of forethought, carelessness, short sighted goals, and inability to relate to others is stunning. Wonder if she’s a psychopath. Congrats lady, you’d make a good case study!

    • avatar Lym BO says:

      I’d go more along the lines of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. OR more likely Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Likely she has a combo of a few different diagnoses. She does convey some guilt so psychopath seems out. RAD would be one who doesn’t inherently know wrong from right, but can learn the difference and apply in life if taught. The point of the letter is the writer trying to determine whether she is right or wrong by not having a relationship with her eldest child. She truly doesn’t seem to know. RAD.
      I would also guess she loves advice sites because she learns a lot about correct human behavior from them.

  9. avatar blueelm says:

    By the way, my opinion is that the missing info (why she could be gone for a while without the police being involved, etc.) is due to the fact that the kinds of problems that this person seems to have would mean that this family has been dealing with her for a long time. I would guess running out for a long while might even be familiar. There might be other things going on as well that aren’t being written (drug addictions, hospitalizations, that time she decided to go to Denver) because there clearly seems to be more going on than is being stated. Either this is fake, or this person is kind of a failure at most of the important parts of being human, which is just sad.

  10. avatar Eaups87 says:

    Margo was right on the money when she signed the letter “Margo, depressingly”. This is such a depressing situation! I’m not even admonishing her for having an affair. But instead of facing your part in this – you run away and refuse to take calls from your CHILD? If it is indeed an abusive situation, what kind of person leaves their child with the abuser? I can’t believe she put that her son was “a little unstable at times and very anxious”. Well, we can’t pick the kids we get and I can’t imagine his mother disappearing would help to soothe his nerves. I also can’t imagine what kind of man would want to be with a woman who could so easily walk on a family after 16 years. I hope that she shapes up and at least gives her child some closure if she’s not going to “let him back into her life”.