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DEAR READERS: A successful, single career woman wrote me recently wondering if she should "curtail (her) professional success, financial wherewithal and IQ" in order to land a husband. She asked, on behalf of herself and her unmarried friends, "how to find true happiness while being true to themselves." Fascinating mail from readers poured in. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: This is MY reaction to that woman's comment about taking a job as an "administrator" so that she won't appear to be so smart. I assume by "administrator" she means the administrative assistant positions that are vital to the smooth running of almost every business and organization.

Perhaps her elitist attitude is what's causing her to be single, and not her job or financial status. Please inform "Miss Thing" that not only are most successful assistants highly intelligent, but many of us know something she doesn't -- how to deal with people! Some of us went to college just like she did, but ended up in administrative positions through downsizing, necessity -- or maybe some of us really like our jobs.

You were right to advise her not to step down the ladder in the corporate world. With her superior attitude, she'd never make it "down here at the bottom." -- ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT WITH AN MBA

DEAR ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT: I understand why you might have been offended by the writer's comment, but please understand that people experiencing a painful life crisis aren't always politically correct.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 30-something male in the same situation. I remember a former psychology professor giving us a lecture that addressed this issue. He said people are often lonely not because nobody loves them, but because they don't love or recognize the ones who DO. He gave an example of a woman who complained that she was lonely and without prospects. Her mentor said, "What about Jim, the checker at the grocery store? He wants to date you." She dismissed it with, "... but he works in a grocery store."

I'm a college-educated professional, also unattached and sometimes lonely. I sometimes remember the nice women who might have been interested in me years ago, but whom I didn't consider because "she was just a waitress," "wasn't a college graduate," "was divorced," etc. I would urge the writer and her friends to ask themselves if they truly are without prospects. -- GEOFF IN MILWAUKEE

DEAR ABBY: I'll bet you $50 those women all go out in a crowd. There is nothing more intimidating than trying to ask for a date when the woman is at a table full of her girlfriends. Few males are confident enough to subject themselves to the typical withering judgment of a clique.

Smart women, if they are truly smart, understand that they need to make themselves accessible! -- J.S., DANVILLE, OHIO

DEAR ABBY: Successful single women with high IQs might scrutinize their criteria for "Mr. Right." Must he have a "certain income," perfect looks, the right connections? Can he have children, a limp, a bald head, be poorer than she is? Are they looking for love without judgment, as they would wish to be evaluated?

Regardless of their achieved status, they must realize that what's on the inside means more. Do they wear contacts, makeup, padded bra, color their hair? They do?

Life isn't "Sex and the City" or any other media-produced 60-minute "life." You can't put yourself on your own pedestal. I found love -- twice -- with "country boys" who ended up having more smarts and giving me more love than I ever hoped for.

If those women stop looking, love will find them when they least expect it. -- BETSY IN PLANO, TEXAS

READERS: More on this subject tomorrow.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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