DEAR ABBY: I am a woman who, after nearly 25 years, is back on the dating scene. Those years were spent in a same-sex relationship. I just happened to fall in love with a woman. I have custody of our child from the union.
I do not put a label on my sexual orientation. I would like to meet a nice man and pursue a new relationship. How do I let interested parties know about my past? Being back in the dating world is difficult enough without having to explain an unusual history. -- BACK IN THE GAME IN ARIZONA
DEAR BACK IN THE GAME: The subject of where you have been for the last 25 years is bound to come up early in a relationship -- or even before there's a relationship. My advice is to just be honest. And may I be frank? Some men will find the idea that you were with another woman titillating, while others may even find it a challenge. So don't jump into anything too quickly.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a certified massage therapist who attended a reputable massage therapy school. I worked hard for my certification because my goal is to relieve people of chronic pain issues.
When I'm asked what I do for a living, men start making jokes that imply I'm the type of masseuse who massages naked men for their sexual pleasure. I find this more than a little insulting. They think they're being funny, but I don't!
How can I discourage these innuendos? Should I ignore them and hope they get the point from the expression on my face? -- OFFENDED THERAPIST IN MICHIGAN
DEAR OFFENDED: When someone makes an offensive comment, I see nothing wrong in letting that person know he has "rubbed" you the wrong way. Tell him you studied hard to be in a healing profession -- that the innuendo is insulting and not funny, and you're not "that kind" of girl. Period.
DEAR ABBY: My hubby is a smoker. He was one when we married. He promised he'd quit before our wedding; it didn't happen. When I became pregnant, he promised again he would stop. Didn't happen.
Our son is now 2 years old and "Tom" still sneaks out to smoke, and I am sure he does at work, too. His mother passed a year ago from cancer -- she was a longtime smoker, and his father has now been diagnosed with cancer. (He's a longtime smoker, too.)
I am terrified for Tom and our family. What can I do other than threaten, cry, etc. to get him to stop? -- KELLY IN TEXAS
DEAR KELLY: You're right to be worried and you have my sympathy. Smoking cessation programs are available through the American Cancer Society, but work only if the smoker is willing to avail himself. Nothing you can do will "make" your husband give up tobacco. He has been nicotine-saturated from birth. Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in the U.S. If the fact that both his parents were diagnosed with cancer -- probably from smoking -- hasn't convinced him to stop, frankly, nothing will.
You can protect your son by insisting that Tom not smoke in the boy's presence -- and when he's old enough, that he understands that his father has an addiction and cannot stop, as a warning not to start. Then pray the "family tradition" isn't passed down yet again.
For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)