DEAR ABBY: I'm a divorced, middle-aged professional woman with a Ph.D. who has been keeping company with a man my age for seven years. "Burt" treats me well. He takes me out, has helped with some major home renovation projects, sends me flowers and I enjoy his company. I'm perfectly happy in his world, and I like most of his friends.
On the flip side, Burt is overweight, has a drinking problem and never finished college. My problem is, I can't bring myself to introduce him to those in my "professional circle." I'm afraid he will say something boorish, show up drunk or otherwise embarrass me.
Is there something intrinsically wrong with me that I'm ashamed to have the man I love meet people with whom I work and socialize? Is there something wrong with the relationship? -- IT'S COMPLICATED IN WISCONSIN
DEAR IT'S COMPLICATED: There doesn't appear to be anything wrong with the relationship. It has worked for seven years. What's "wrong" may be that you're afraid you have "settled" for someone who isn't up to the standards of those in your professional circle. If you are happy, why do you feel you must live up to someone else's standards?
Of course, this doesn't have to be a deal breaker. If you and Burt are a happy couple, keep your personal and professional lives separate. Many couples do.
DEAR ABBY: I am a young, single mother of two girls. I work full time and I'm involved in my daughters' lives. I go to all their school functions, coach their soccer team, serve as the Cookie Mom for Girl Scouts and volunteer for anything else I can manage to squeeze into my schedule, but I have a hard time making friends with any other moms.
None of the other mothers wants to get to know me. I wait at the bus stop with my girls and the moms talk to each other, but not to me. I get a weird "vibe" from them, as if they think I'm too young to know anything. I try to join in, but it seems they really don't care for me.
I have friends my age, but they don't have children. I want friends who have families because they face the same kind of issues I do. What can I do to make these moms like me? -- FRIEND-CHALLENGED IN CYPRESS, TEXAS
DEAR FRIEND-CHALLENGED: There is no way to "make" someone like you, and if a clique has already been established, it can be difficult to break in. It is possible that because of your youth and single status you are perceived as a threat to them -- but I do have a suggestion, and your youth can be an advantage. Start asking them for advice, and it's possible they may take you under their collective wing.
DEAR ABBY: What is the proper way to kiss after the wedding officiant says, "You may now kiss the bride"? Should the couple share a simple kiss, or can it be a little more intense? -- DANIELLE IN TAMPA
DEAR DANIELLE: The wedding is a time to demonstrate eternal commitment, not unbridled passion. The kiss can be as intense as you like, as long as it doesn't last more than six seconds, and doesn't remove the bride's lipstick.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)