Q: A foreign friend used the N-word while commenting about an employee at a hotel we were staying in. After he said it a second time, I slapped him and told him that word was never acceptable, regardless of the reason.
I feel bad about hitting him but entirely justified in motive and intent. I really can’t think of another more effective way of registering how offended I am in a situation like this. Should I apologize? Should it be a qualified apology?
I tried to explain the complex racial history of the U.S. and why the word was so hurtful, but he seemed disinclined to understand. What is the right way to react in such a situation? — Anonymous in the USA
A: You should not have let the first remark go without speaking up. The right way to respond to the person’s racist comment would have been to say that it offended you and you would prefer not to hear that kind of language from him again. Physical violence is not the correct way to get a point across.
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If you must associate with this person, apologize for flying off the handle. Otherwise, avoid him.
Q: I’m in love with two men. My husband, “Victor,” and I have been together for nine years and were married last year. The other man in my life, “Wade,” was my boss, and we’ve been seeing each other for two years.
They are polar opposites and make me happy in different ways. I was engaged and planning my wedding when Wade and I started our relationship. I chose to marry Victor for emotional stability and because we had built a life together. I can’t imagine a life without him. At the same time, I can’t imagine not being with Wade.
If I stop seeing Wade, I know I won’t be happy and he’ll always be on my mind. I will always wonder about what could have been. If I divorce my husband, I’ll break his heart, and it won’t be easy.
Last week Wade demanded that I decide between him and my husband. He wants an exclusive relationship with me. I’m in a panic because I can’t decide, but I know I will lose Wade if I don’t do it soon. I need advice because I don’t know which way to go. — Stuck at a Crossroads in Florida
A: You chose to marry Victor because you wanted emotional stability, and you had built a life together. Obviously, that isn’t enough for you, or you wouldn’t be cheating with Wade. If what you really want is a marriage filled with passion, tumult and the possibility of infidelity, by all means choose your former boss. That way, you won’t be bored, and Victor will then be free to find a loving, faithful wife who appreciates what he has to offer.
Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.