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by Abigail Van Buren

Man Has Wife's Ok to Look, but Not Touch, Other Women

DEAR ABBY: Regarding your answer to "Yoo-Hoo, I'm Over Here!" (Jan. 10), who was bothered by her husband's constant leering at women, you've got to be kidding. Men have been looking at young women since the beginning of time. My husband and his friends hold "office hours" every morning at our neighborhood coffeehouse. I've told him as long as he "touches" only with his eyes, there won't be a problem.

My husband and his pals are not "creepy old men." They are leaders in our community -- doing what they can to make the world a better place, while enjoying the scenery. There must be something terribly wrong with "Yoo-Hoo's" marriage if she's contemplating divorce because of this. -- KEEPING IT REAL IN TAMPA

DEAR KEEPING IT REAL: I told "Yoo-Hoo" that from her description, her husband's behavior seemed obsessive, that it showed a lack of sensitivity to her feelings and I recommended marriage counseling. Responses from my readers were varied. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: In marriage we promise to love and cherish our wives. That is not what "Yoo-Hoo's" husband is doing. It is disrespectful to her, his supposed one and only, and to the women he is ogling. When a man stares at another woman, it is not just looking. He is fantasizing about her. And sometimes it doesn't stop there. -- TOM IN HALF MOON BAY, CALIF.

DEAR ABBY: I have been happily married for 18 years, we have four children, and I can attest that all men do NOT do that. My husband isn't blind to a beautiful woman, but he is respectful of my feelings and has enough self-respect to not openly drool over any women in my presence.

Unfortunately, we do know "Yoo-Hoo's" husband's type. We have seen "men" like him gawking open-mouthed at the teenage girls wearing tight jeans at school. We have also made careful note of who they are and who their children are. If an invitation comes for one of our girls to visit their kids at their house, the answer is always NO.

"Yoo-Hoo's" husband has a problem. The sooner she realizes it, the better. -- WATCHFUL MOM IN BUTLER, PA.

DEAR ABBY: You said that if "Yoo-Hoo's" husband were 20 years younger, his behavior would be chalked up to "boys will be boys." Boys of all ages can be respectful of women -- the ones they're dating or are married to, and the ones who do not want to be ogled by strangers. Appreciating attractive people without being creepy is something people of all ages and both genders are capable of. Please don't perpetuate this stereotype. -- BROOKE IN HILLIARD, OHIO

DEAR ABBY: The way she describes her husband's behavior with women sounds like he may have a sexual addiction. If so, he is powerless over his behavior and will do anything to justify his addiction. It's a waste of time asking him to change unless he goes into recovery for it. Other signs of this addiction are affairs, frequenting bars, using Internet chat rooms and looking at porn. -- KNOWS FROM EXPERIENCE

DEAR ABBY: I wonder how that man would feel if he caught someone his age leering at HIS daughter? Maybe then he would think twice about what he is doing. -- DIVORCED IN KANSAS CITY

DEAR ABBY: Women look, too. I look! I think it's healthy to be aware of the people around you. But that doesn't mean we have to be obvious about it -- certainly not so obvious that we are inconsiderate of the people we are with.

That said, the other side of the coin is: Did he act like this when they were dating? Did she know what she was getting when she married him? As they say, a leopard doesn't change its spots. -- IRENE IN SAN ANTONIO

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)