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by Abigail Van Buren

Charming Single Aunt Is Regularly Uncoupled

DEAR ABBY: I have always been close to my aunt. She's my father's sister and is in her early 40s. She's perky, gregarious, charming and very pretty. She's single and insists that she is happy that way. I'm not convinced.

In the last two years, she has dated three men -- one was married, one engaged and one was recently divorced. Initially, all three seemed to genuinely care for her, but after a few weeks, they reunited with their former mates.

It would be one thing if Aunty could say, "Good riddance," and get on with her life, but this is not the case.

She visits the workplaces of their former mates, hoping for an opportunity to drop the bomb that the guys are philandering. She also calls and pages these men at work, then makes excuses to us why they never call her back. Abby, she even drives by their homes and businesses repeatedly.

I'm beginning to dread her visits, and the tales of her activities embarrass me. There is no reason for a woman with her looks and personality to get mixed up with attached men, and carry on like this when they no longer want to see her. When family members comment on her behavior, she gets defensive and angry, but nothing changes.

Abby, is there any way to get her out of this vicious cycle? I would like to see her settled and happy with one man instead of wasting her time on men who are not available. -- EMBARRASSED NIECE

DEAR NIECE: Aunty, with all her charm and beauty, may unconsciously not really want a permanent commitment. She needs to find out why she chooses only men who are not available. I recommend counseling for Aunty.

DEAR ABBY: Help! I have just returned from the walk from hell -- one of many. All because my neighbor talks nonstop about herself. She goes on and on about her past: how wonderful she is, how wonderful her son is. (She's certain he will be the mayor of this little town one day.)

She never asks anything about me or members of my family.

Abby, I try my best to be courteous and appear interested, but inside, I am ready to scream. If you have any suggestions short of running in the other direction when I see her, I will be very grateful.

I am signing my real name, but please don't use it because this is a small town, and I don't want to publicly embarrass her. -- BORED TO TEARS

DEAR BORED: Look at it this way. This pathetic woman desperately needs someone to listen to her. She has probably worn out her welcome with her other neighbors. It would be an act of charity to give her an audience, but in order to preserve your own sanity, let her talk for as long as you can tolerate it; then tell her you have things to do, give her a hug and say, "We'll talk again when I have more time."

DEAR ABBY: A relative of mine got a divorce after being married for 20 years. She has not remarried, but her ex-husband did.

He died a few months ago, and now my cousin is going around wearing black and calling herself a widow.

Abby, isn't she still a divorcee? -- CURIOUS IN CHICAGO

DEAR CURIOUS: Yes. Your cousin is a divorcee whose former husband is deceased. A man leaves only one widow -- the woman to whom he was married at the time of his death.

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