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by Abigail Van Buren

Affair That's Survived Death and Divorce Must Now End

DEAR ABBY: I have started this letter many times, not finishing it because I know the answer to the advice I seek. I am a 48-year-old woman, married to a wonderful man for 10 years.

For the last 21 years, I have been having an affair.

It started when my first marriage came apart. My lover is a handsome younger man. Over the years I divorced, he married, I remarried, he became a widower -- and we continued our affair.

To our family and friends, we are old friends. We are thrown together for all occasions and no one has ever suspected. As the old song goes, "Daytime friends, nighttime lovers."

I know this affair must end. It has to, before we hurt and disappoint our families and friends. I love him and always will. But I need to know how to end it after all these years. -- NAMELESS

DEAR NAMELESS: The first step is to tell your lover exactly what you have told me -- that you want the affair to come to an end. Ask him to help by limiting the number of social occasions when you will be thrown together. (An eligible, attractive widower must get many invitations, not to mention offers.) You are both adults, and with mutual cooperation you can eliminate the opportunities to succumb to temptation.

The alternative would be to tell your husband what has been going on all these years. That, I guarantee, would end it.

DEAR ABBY: Here is my 2 cents for "Bent Out of Shape in San Francisco." It is sad that he lost his car and tried to keep the female, but his priorities are screwed up. They should be:

1. Fix car.

2. Dump girlfriend.

Since he bought the car 30 years ago, he is about my age (50). I, too, have a classic car that I drove off the dealer's lot in 1968. I've never found a woman I would trade the car for. Classic cars are too hard to find nowadays, and the restoration costs are high.

Most of the women I've met bailed out when the going got tough, and yet my car (and motorcycle) are still there taking me to job interviews and getting me through the difficult times.

It's far better to be alone and lonely than to be married and lonely. -- PAT IN FONTANA, CALIF.

DEAR PAT: Sorry about your bad luck with females. However, far more women stick it out rather than bail out when times get tough. Fiftieth wedding anniversaries are common, and that's testimony to the ability of many females to last for the duration of a run of bad luck. Furthermore, they're a lot softer and warmer to snuggle up to than cold steel and leather on a chilly night.

DEAR ABBY: A few years ago you printed the way to determine a dog's age. Would you please send me that column, or print it again? -- GLINN IN RENO, NEV.

DEAR GLINN: I'm pleased to oblige. The first year of a dog's life is equal to 15 in a human's. The second year is the equivalent of nine more years of human age, making the dog 24 years old. After that, each year equals four more years of human life. Interestingly, the smaller the dog, the longer its life. So when a pup has been with its owner for 16 years, its age would be equivalent to an 80-year-old human.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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