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

by Abigail Van Buren

Amateur in Romance Should Take Lessons From the Pros

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 40-year-old man who is a former epileptic. I lived a very sheltered life until 1994, when I had surgery that successfully eradicated my seizures. Only after the surgery, when I tried to live a normal life, did I realize how protected I had been.

Finally last year, I married a wonderful woman. We have a good relationship, but I would like to make it even better. She is a romantic, and I'm very inexperienced in that department. I don't understand much when it comes to romancing my wife. I would greatly appreciate any advice you can give me on romance. -- ROMANTICALLY ROCKY

DEAR ROCKY: Many women wish their husbands would ask this question. Being a willing student is the perfect first step. Look around you. Romance is everywhere, once you open your eyes to it. Learn from other couples who act as if they are in love. Watch their body language -- it's almost as though the rest of the world doesn't exist. Paying focused attention to your partner is romantic. So is thoughtfulness. Listen to your wife's cues. Study up. Read books -- there are many written on every aspect of romance. Watch classic romantic movies and pay attention to the small things the hero does. You'll get the picture. Then practice, practice, practice! Good luck.

DEAR ABBY: About three weeks ago, my girlfriend of five years and I had a terrible argument. We didn't speak for a week. During that time, I met another young lady whom I really started to like. She's seven months pregnant and is having a lot of problems with the baby's father, and I don't want to be in the middle of anything.

Now I'm really starting to miss my old girlfriend. Maybe I got involved with another relationship too soon. I don't know what to do. Can you please help me? -- OVER MY HEAD IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR OVER MY HEAD: The solution to your problem is to be honest with both of these women. The girl who's seven months pregnant has problems of her own to resolve with the baby's father. And your girlfriend of five years needs to hear that you miss her. Don't procrastinate. The sooner you resolve this, the better for all concerned.

DEAR ABBY: I have a big problem. It's my ex-boyfriend. We play in the same basketball club, so we see each other every day. He looks at me all the time. He can't take his eyes off me.

What does he want? And what should I do? He's very, very shy. -- CAROLINE IN BERELDANGE, LUXEMBOURG

DEAR CAROLINE: He keeps looking because he still finds you attractive. If you feel the same about him, be approachable without being too aggressive -- which can intimidate a shy young man. When you see him, smile and say hello. If you need help perfecting a shot, ask him for some pointers. After that, as the old saying goes, "The ball's in his court."

CONFIDENTIAL TO "CAN'T FORGIVE IN MINOT, N.D.": Try harder. As Benjamin Disraeli put it, "Life is too short to be small."

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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