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DEAR ABBY: I am a senior male. I understand I may have some beliefs that others find old-fashioned. However, I consciously try to be tolerant of others' feelings and beliefs. That said, my problem is with my younger brother, who is a homosexual. I have always tried to ignore that side of his life and, consequently, we have always had a good relationship. He lives in another state, so we only talk on the telephone.

A couple of months ago while we were talking, the subject of sexuality came up, and I told him I find the fact that he is gay "disgusting." I know it was a poor choice of words. I merely meant to say that I, myself, am and always have been totally heterosexual. I have never had any sexual interest in members of my own sex. I never meant my comment to be judgmental of my brother or anyone else.

I left several messages apologizing for anything I said that he found objectionable. Now, when I try to contact him, he doesn't answer my phone calls.

Abby, I miss my brother. I truly love him, and I don't want to lose all contact with him. If you have any advice for me, please give it to me. I'm desperate and can think of nothing I might be able to do to restore our relationship. Please help me. — FEELS LIKE A FOOL IN WASHINGTON

DEAR FEELS LIKE: I have never understood why so many straight people spend so much time obsessing about what gay people might be doing behind closed doors. that, to me, is disgusting.

I'll be frank. After what you said to your brother, he would have to be a saint to forgive you. He is doing what emotionally healthy people do, erasing a negative influence from his life. You can continue trying to apologize by penning a heartfelt letter of apology and remorse, promising to never use those words again, and sending it to your brother. But if he continues to be unreceptive, you will have to live with it.

DEAR ABBY: I met a man online seven months ago. We hit it off right away. I checked to make sure he wasn't a "catfisher" and everything checked out. We talk on the phone at least twice a day, Facebook Messenger and video chat. He sent me a card for my birthday along with some money.

I have developed strong feelings for him, and he has told me he loves me. He has told me many times he wants to meet, but we couldn't do it because of the pandemic. He's a jewelry designer trying to get his business back up before he loses it. He's afraid to lose everything.

I don't know what to do. Should I keep waiting or just stay friends with him? We really care about each other, but circumstances prevent us from meeting. — BROKENHEARTED IN NEW YORK

DEAR BROKENHEARTED: Because "circumstances" prevent you from meeting this man in person, try HARD to regain your balance and stay friends. Although you think you know him, until you finally meet in person, you really don't. Even if you confirmed he works in jewelry design, he may still be hiding something from you. Often when a significant other keeps making excuses not to meet, there's a good reason for it and not always what you want to hear.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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Jeanne Phillips
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