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by Abigail Van Buren

Those Looking for New Love Must Get Out There and Mix

DEAR ABBY: "Lonely in Georgia," the woman who divorced her cheating spouse eight years ago, wrote that she's miserably lonely. I know how she feels.

I was widowed four years ago, and when I was ready to date, it seemed impossible to find "Miss Right." By a stroke of good fortune, I discovered an online dating service that matched me with people with shared personality traits and interests.

My first date was with a lady with whom I immediately felt comfortable. We have been seeing each other for six months, are engaged, and intend to be married soon. I hope "Lonely" finds this helpful. -- "EUREKA" IN ARIZONA

DEAR "EUREKA": Congratulations to you both. Very few people are lucky enough to strike platinum on the first try. I wish you every happiness. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I was divorced at 44, and decided to finally do something I'd always wanted to try: country-western dancing. I went not knowing anyone. When a gentleman asked me to dance, he didn't mind that I was a novice. He led me through the basics. He also mentioned free lessons offered by the establishment, and I decided to go. I soon got to know the regulars (even experienced dancers took lessons). Eventually, I met the man who would become my husband. We have been married three years, and I have never been happier. -- HAPPILY PARTNERED AGAIN

DEAR HAPPILY PARTNERED: I have often said that if you want to meet new people, get involved in a new activity. My longtime personal assistant, Olivia, also met the man of her dreams, Richard, while square dancing -- and I agree that it can be fertile territory for romance.

DEAR ABBY: I, too, divorced a cheating spouse. "Lonely" should consider talking to a therapist to help her regain her self-esteem. After I did it, I focused on attending events and functions where I could meet the kind of man I was interested in. I chose museum and gallery exhibitions and the theater, and went with girlfriends. I met a wonderful man at a group for over-35 singles. "Lonely" should get out and enjoy herself. I'm sure she'll find the person she's looking for. -- BEEN THROUGH IT IN GEORGIA

DEAR BEEN THROUGH IT: No one ever met anyone by sitting at home and brooding. The most important thing is to put yourself out there.

DEAR ABBY: My engagement went sour, an abusive relationship followed, and so did many disappointing dates. I decided to stop looking for a man and focus on things in life that truly made me happy. I began substitute teaching and mentoring high school students. It was then that the man of my dreams walked into my life. We married a year ago and are having the time of our lives. Please tell "Lonely" not to give up. Men are attracted to women who are happy and self-fulfilled. -- MARRIED AND STILL GETTING OFFERS

DEAR MARRIED: Right you are! As my mother often used to say, "Happiness is the best cosmetic." And so is a positive outlook. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I was divorced for 16 years before I met Mr. Right four years ago. All it took was living and enjoying what I had instead of worrying about what I was missing. Most men and women over the age of 40 recognize the signs of someone "on the hunt." It is a huge turnoff. -- HAPPY IN FALLON, NEV.

DEAR HAPPY: I agree. And that is why I advise people to involve themselves in activities where they can improve their community. There are many ways to do it -- work for their political party, as a hospital volunteer, Habitat for Humanity. Even if they don't fall in love, they can make some wonderful friends and make a difference.