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by Abigail Van Buren

Man Rusty on Rules of Dating After 30 Years Off the Market

DEAR ABBY: I am newly single after a 30-year marriage. Would you please explain to me the protocol regarding intimacy? After how many dates is it appropriate to engage in intimacy? And afterward, should the man call the woman or the woman call the man? How long should one wait before calling? I'm afraid if I call too soon I'll appear needy, and if I wait too long to call I'll appear to be a player. -- TENTATIVE TOM IN TAMPA

DEAR TENTATIVE TOM: When an individual has reached middle age, that person is considered mature enough to know when he (or she) is comfortable enough with another person to engage in "intimacy." No time limit is engraved in stone. As to who should call whom first to offer congratulations on a fine performance, there is no reason to stand on ceremony. Everyone likes a compliment, and a prompt, "Thank you for a wonderful time; it was great," is not considered needy -- it's good manners.