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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman in Bankruptcy Worries About Giving Man True Account

DEAR ABBY: I am a woman in my late 20s. I declared bankruptcy last year. What led to this decision wasn't so much irresponsibility as it was circumstances beyond my control.

A few months ago, I met a wonderful man I'll call Andrew. We've grown attracted to each other. Andrew has begun talking about seeing me on an exclusive basis. I am extremely nervous about the prospect, primarily because Andrew is a financial adviser. Up until now, I saw no reason to divulge my bankruptcy. However, if we are beginning a long-term relationship, what's the best way to go about it?

I don't want him to feel I've been hiding something all this time, and I don't want him to think I'm using him for his financial expertise. I'm quite independent, have a stable job that I love and am now managing on my own. Any ideas? -- "INVESTING 101" IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

DEAR INVESTING: Say it this way: "Andrew, there is something I need to tell you. It's something I'm not proud of, so I have been hesitant to disclose it to anyone. Last year I had to file bankruptcy, and this is why." Then explain the situation.

Tell him how special you think he is and that you are getting back on your feet without any outside assistance. His response will give you an indication of the depth of his feelings for you.