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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am a 41-year-old woman who has been divorced for 10 years, during which time I've had a few long-term relationships.

I have always been a passionate woman with the men I have cared about, and they have reciprocated. I have learned a lot about myself and men as a result.

Five months ago, after a long absence from a relationship or dating, I met a man who is two years older than I am. He is extremely well-mannered and sensitive. He's affectionate and seems to care about me. We share many interests and values, and best of all, he makes me laugh.

He is healthy and in excellent shape. There is one issue, however, that deeply concerns me. I know that he enjoys sex, but I am sorry to say he is a lousy lover.

He told me that he has never been "wild and crazy" in bed. I don't think one has to be "wild and crazy" to be a good lover; however, he doesn't even like to kiss. This makes me sad because I think kissing is an important part of foreplay and particularly important during romantic moments.

I now find myself holding back when I am intimate with him, and becoming more inhibited as well. After sex, I'm left feeling frustrated, unsatisfied and sad. I don't like to put so much emphasis on sex, but I think I deserve more consideration.

Our relationship is flourishing except for the physical part. I care very much for this man, but I long to be kissed and caressed, and I doubt our relationship can endure without intimacy. Should I approach him about this? And can I expect him to change? -- NEEDING MORE IN MINNEAPOLIS

DEAR NEEDING MORE: Societal taboos, restrictive upbringings and unfortunate early experiences can cause sexual inhibitions.

You can help your lover change only if he is willing to cooperate. Honest communication is a must. There are many excellent books available to help partners improve their intimacy skills. Find a few and read them together.

A sex therapist can also help guide you to a more fulfilling sex life. Ask your physician to refer you to one.

DEAR ABBY: The 83-year-old great-grandmother from Indio, Calif., who wrote to praise the joys of life after getting a hearing aid in middle age, has done a great service for the hearing-impaired community in general.

Utilizing hearing devices at any age offers an opportunity for fulfilling the human need for communication and life participation. The majority of children diagnosed for hearing loss within the first three years of life and fitted with appropriate aids have a wonderful opportunity to develop speech and language skills with the ability to function in the normal hearing world. This is known as the auditory-verbal approach to helping deaf and hard-of-hearing children, and "looking old" is the last thing these children would imagine.

The mother who would not wear hearing aids because she thought they would make her look old might have an easier time if she could imagine the delight young people have when they realize they can actually hear. There is much research still being done to help all levels of hearing loss, and there are now hearing aids available that are hardly visible. Please let your readers know that there are also community services available to help put them in touch with audiologists who are certified to dispense hearing aids and make appropriate medical referrals. -- JOSEPHINE WILSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HEAR CENTER, PASADENA, CALIF.

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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