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

by Abigail Van Buren

Neighbor Struggles to Strike Match of His Dreams on Fire

DEAR ABBY: I have a neighbor (friend) who's 55. I'm 60. We're both in good physical condition and share similar interests. No matter what we do, we always have a good time. I've gotten to know her well enough to consider her the match of my dreams.

She knows how I feel about her, but early on, she stated that she had a history of bad relationships. (She's been married twice; I've been married once.) She claims that most men want only to dominate her.

Every single holiday, she leaves town accompanied by other friends with no other word to me than, "Talk to you later!" As I write this, she's been gone four days following a 10-day illness. During those 10 days, I nursed her -- running errands, buying her flowers, washing her car, bringing her food, you name it.

I don't know what to do. I have respected her privacy and given her all the space she seems to need, and I hate to walk away. This feeling of being left standing on the back porch while she's running out the front door has become really hurtful. My friends say if I confront her, she'll be gone -- and maybe I should just enjoy our relationship for what it is.

Abby, what's your take on this? -- SMITTEN IN ODESSA, TEXAS

DEAR SMITTEN: When it's clear that no commitment is forthcoming, people who want a serious relationship usually drift away. Only those who think they do not deserve better remain in the unhappy "status quo."