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DEAR ABBY: I'm 51 and my boyfriend is 43. We've been dating for eight months, living together for five. We met at work a few months before we started dating. We get along great and never argue, but he won't let me meet his family.

He has never been married and has no children. He sees his mom and brother sometimes for dinner and such, but because his mom doesn't have any grandchildren and I can't give her any, he said he's not ready to tell her about me. Does this make sense? -- OUTSIDER IN LOUISIANA

DEAR OUTSIDER: If, after eight months of dating and living together for five, you still haven't met his family, he has no intention of introducing you -- ever. Your inability to give his mother grandchildren has nothing to do with it. You are a human being, not a broodmare, and the excuse he's giving you makes no sense. Picture this scenario: "Hey, Ma, this is 'Becky' and she's fertile!" Puh-leeze!


DEAR ABBY: My sister, who is very religious, sent my gay daughter a Bible with her name engraved on it for Christmas, even though we told her -- after she asked for suggestions -- that a gift card would be more appropriate. We are not religious, by the way.

My wife and I feel strange about it, as if my sister is trying to tell us something like, "Your gay daughter needs religion." How should we respond to this? -- BAFFLED IN THE EAST

DEAR BAFFLED: You do not have to respond. The Bible was a gift for your daughter, and the "privilege" of acknowledging it, ignoring it or regifting it is hers. What I do not recommend is allowing your sister's gift choice to become an argument about your family's values.


DEAR ABBY: I've recently rekindled an old romance with a wonderful guy. Only one thing mars our relationship. When we go out to eat, we don't carry on a conversation past occasional chitchat. The problem may be that while he's a speedy eater, I'm slow. I feel bad about not being able to talk and chew fast enough to keep up, so he finishes well before me and ends up waiting quite a while until I polish off my meal.

Can you offer any suggestions on how to come to a compromise where dinner isn't a race to the finish line, but an experience full of laughter and discussion? -- SLOWER IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR SLOWER: Yes, but it may involve making the meal even longer. If there's a topic you would like to explore with him, put down your fork, swallow your food and speak up. In Europe it's common for people to linger over their meal and communicate with each other. This practice not only fosters deeper relationships, but there are also health benefits to eating slowly. Because you're a couple, you should feel comfortable enough to ask him to slow down so your conversation can flow more easily.

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