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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I'm sure you opened the floodgates when you asked your readers for their definition of either a lousy or a great lover. I have always thought there should be a school to teach people how to be great lovers. There are so few of them around. A lady is lucky indeed to run into one, and truly blessed to be married to one.

Your definition that a lousy lover is hurried, selfish and inconsiderate was right on, but the list also should include being insensitive, having poor hygiene, poor verbal skills, and unwilling to give more than he gets, etc. I hope you print some of the responses you get. It will be interesting to see what your readers have to say on the subject. -- BEBE IN LA MIRADA, CALIF.

DEAR BEBE: I certainly hit a nerve when I asked the question, because the responses are still pouring in. I had no idea so many women (and men) would have so much to say on the subject. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: A good lover, male or female, is one who is teachable. -- SUZANNE IN PHOENIX

DEAR ABBY: In an interview, the actor Ricardo Montalban was asked, "What is a great lover?" He replied, "A great lover is someone who can satisfy one woman her entire lifetime and be satisfied with one woman his entire lifetime. It is not someone who goes from woman to woman; any dog can do that." -- PATRICK IN NASHVILLE

DEAR ABBY: Great lovers have the same qualities both in and out of bed -- they just manifest them differently in public (fortunately). They are chronically kind, have an incredible memory for what you like, touch you often, aren't in a rush, welcome new ideas, never fall asleep without saying, "I love you," and treat you like the most beautiful woman in the world, even if in reality you're 49 and porky. -- STEVE'S INCREDIBLY LUCKY WIFE IN LA JOLLA

DEAR ABBY: A good lover is a person who takes into consideration the needs of the other person. He is unselfish and wants to satisfy his partner. He's always patient and takes his time when he is making love. A good lover makes every effort to find out what his partner wants and then he fulfills those needs. A good lover is gentle and caring with his partner. He gives soft touches, gentle caresses and sweet kisses in all the right spots. He also is passionate and honest. I was very fortunate to fall in love with a fabulous lover. -- CRAZY IN LOVE IN RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA

DEAR ABBY: I never thought I'd ever have a chance at a great lover. However, at 65 I've been lucky enough to meet him. He is trustworthy in all things, not just sex; he wants to please and provide happiness in my life; he's able to control his own sexuality and bring us ultimately to even higher heights. By the way, my guy is in his late 70s.

P.S. I completely agree with your definition of a lousy lover. Been there -- had that! -- SEXY LADY IN ARLINGTON, TEXAS

DEAR ABBY: A lover who looks a woman in the eyes and tells her how beautiful she is and how much he loves her is a good lover. But what really makes it or breaks it, in my opinion, is if after all the afterglow fades -- can you talk to each other? I am only 28 years old, but I am sophisticated enough to know that sex is only a bonus. A good friendship is a lifetime commitment. I have a man who talks with me. We have a wonderful sex life, but it has more to do with how happy we are -- not how technically proficient we are. Abby, feel free to edit this and you are welcome to print my name. I want my Edward to know that he's a good lover because he cares. -- NORMA JEAN BARON, PLAINSBORO, N.J.

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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