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Dear Annie: Fantasies normal but be careful

Dear Annie: I have discovered a fascination with some aspects of bondage, dominance and submission, and eventually would like a chance to play out some of my fantasies. Is this normal?

My childhood life was very sheltered, and my parents are quite conservative. I was bullied in middle school and had suicidal tendencies. I received counseling and think I have moved past the serious stuff, but could my fascination with BDSM be connected to my childhood? Would a return to counseling help me get over it?

I’m 19 years old and don’t want to be doing something like this if it is only because I’m rebelling against my parents or have some kind of mental health issue. – Curious

Dear Curious: Most sexual behavior is rooted in how we were raised and the life experiences we have had. At your age, it is also not uncommon to have a variety of fantasies, although in actual practice you may change your mind about their appeal. Most fantasies are harmless, and acting on them is a problem only if someone is likely to get hurt. In this particular case, that would be a major hazard, so be careful. And if you are concerned about your proclivities, counseling can help you get to the reasons behind your interest.

Dear Annie: I am 26 years old and currently live with my parents due to financial hardships. My sister, “Kate,” works a full-time job and has two boys to support. Kate recently became engaged to a co-worker, and they are expecting a baby in September. She has child care, but it seems every other week something comes up with the baby sitter and I end up watching her kids.

Annie, I love my nephews to death, but I just got engaged myself. Last week, I booked an appointment with a wedding planner, but Kate called at the last minute saying the baby sitter was busy, so I ended up canceling my appointment. This is not the first time it’s happened. Out of the goodness of my heart, I’ve been there for Kate because I don’t want her to lose her job, especially with a new baby coming. But it seems like every time I have plans, they need to be put on the back burner for her.

I feel taken advantage of. Can you help me fix this? – Stressed Out in Connecticut

Dear Stressed: Kate takes advantage of you because you permit it. It’s nice that you help her out and you should do so when you are able. But when the baby sitter cancels and you already have other plans, it’s Kate who needs to rearrange her schedule, not you. Practice saying, “I wish I could take the kids, but I have an appointment that can’t be changed. Sorry.” If she becomes angry, so be it.

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar are longtime editors of the Ann Landers column.