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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My fiancee, "Rhonda," and I went to a nightclub. The bouncer said she could go in, but I could not. I wasn't surprised because the doors are always open to gorgeous women. What did surprise me was that Rhonda went in and left me standing there.

The next day I asked her if we could go places where we could both have a good time. She said: "Look. I wanted to go in, OK? My friends were there, and I wanted to have a good time."

Well, so did I, Abby! She could have gone to the club another time with her girlfriends. We were supposed to be together that night. I think it was insulting and callous for her to treat me like that. I'm so hurt I'm ready to break the engagement.

Do you think I am being overly sensitive? Rhonda does. -- HURT AND ASHAMED IN N.Y.C.

DEAR HURT AND ASHAMED: Not only was it insulting and callous of Rhonda to leave you at the door, it was also selfish, immature and completely without regard for your feelings. You were remarkably tolerant not to have broken the engagement the next morning. However, please consider it. Rhonda has a lot of growing up to do before she should marry anyone.

DEAR ABBY: My friends "Mike" and "Mary" were happily married for 20 years. They led a healthy, active life and were an inspiration to many people, including me.

Unfortunately, Mary lost her battle with cancer three months ago. Mike was her devoted caregiver, but now he says he is ready to live again.

Mike and I share many interests and have been spending time together, but we're unsure about what the proper waiting period should be to begin dating publicly. The time is right as far as we're concerned, but we are worried about the feelings and attitudes of others -- even though we've been friends for 20 years.

What do you think is the appropriate length of time before we can "go public"? -- READY TO LIVE AGAIN

DEAR READY: There is no one-size-fits-all answer to that question. Did Mike and Mary have children? How will a quick attachment look to them? How long was Mary's battle with cancer? If it was a long fight, then people in your community will recognize that Mike had time to mourn his loss before her actual death.

In a nutshell, there is no exact timetable for grief. But in my opinion, six months to a year is a reasonable time, out of respect for a loved one's memory, before "going public" -- unless the two of you are in your 80s. (In which case, time may be of the essence.)

DEAR ABBY: Please advise this never-married 41-year-old woman how to answer the dreaded, "So why aren't you married yet?" question. During the early getting-to-know-you stage of dating, this question invariably comes up, and I always feel like I'm taking a pop quiz -- and failing. Please advise. -- ON THE SPOT IN TUCSON

DEAR ON THE SPOT: Stop feeling defensive about it, and just tell the truth. "The right person hasn't asked me."

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