Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am a female in my mid-40s, involved with a 50-year-old man. We were co-workers for 10 years, but we no longer work together. Our relationship began before I left the job.

Now that we're seeing more of each other, I'm getting glimpses of a side of him I didn't know existed. His attitude toward women disturbs me. For example, he recently remarked, "I can take getting into an argument with a man better than I can take an argument with a woman." When I asked him why, he retorted, "Because a man is my equal. But to have to listen to a lot of 'guff' from someone who's a second-class citizen and can never be my equal is ridiculous."

Abby, I was shocked. I found his remark offensive to say the least. Now I'm wondering whether this relationship stands a chance. What do you think? -- L.B. IN BALTIMORE

DEAR L.B.: An intelligent woman such as you can do far better than a man who thinks you and all other women are second-class citizens. You can't teach an old dog new tricks, and this one will be hard to housebreak.

DEAR ABBY: You gave "Wondering What I'm Missing" -- the woman who married young and never had the chance to live life as a single -- good advice, as far as it went.

I was married fresh out of high school and had six children by the time I was 30. I was active in the community, but that didn't stop me from feeling that everything was happening to us as a couple and not to me alone. I discussed my feelings with my husband, and he suggested that I go to college and then enter the workforce. I began evening classes almost immediately.

After college, I joined my husband in business and we also purchased some real estate as an investment. I am now 60 years old, and unfortunately a widow, but I have a real estate portfolio, enough income to retire and travel, and time to spend with our 14 grandchildren.

We go around only once, so "Wondering" should do something to make herself feel important, and stop regretting that she's not single. She can be her own person if she wants to, in spite of being part of a couple, and a mother. -- ELAINE SCHORSCH, FEDERAL WAY, WASH.

DEAR ELAINE: That's sage advice. I hope that "Wondering" will take a page out of your book.

DEAR ABBY: I celebrated my 14th birthday last week. I was very happy with all the gifts I received. However, one thing is bothering me. My grandma, whom I love very much, gave me some movie guest passes. Later, I noticed they had all expired.

I have not told Grandma, and I don't know if I should. If I tell her, how do I do it without sounding rude? I've put off saying anything for fear of doing it wrong. Please help! -- NOT SURE WHAT TO DO

DEAR NOT SURE: I'm not sure either, because I don't know your grandma. Some grandmas would want to know, so they could replace the passes with valid ones you could use. Others might be upset and would prefer not to be told. Ask your parents. They will know what's best in your case.

For Abby's favorite family recipes, send a long, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet No. 1, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600